Litigation has long been recognized as a tool for compelling change in individual behaviors and industry standards, often serving as a stopgap where existing government regulations are inadequate. For example, litigation against tobacco companies helped raise awareness about the health impacts from smoking and played a part in spurring stricter regulations on cigarette manufacturing and marketing.
In the climate change context, we’re seeing an evolution of different legal strategies being employed to affect changed behavior and standards.
When we first approached business owners about their interest in getting a ramp we were offering the them for a fee to cover some of our costs. But even at $50 most people weren’t interested. Some business owners told us that they don’t need a ramp because they don’t have any customers that use wheelchairs! Ha! So we had to figure out a different approach. We pulled together some volunteers, got some donated building materials, and went back with an offer of a free ramp.
Cities have primarily relied on traditional procurement methods because of the ability to effectively evaluate vendor requirements – and well, they’re familiar. However, this method is ill-adapted to the rapid innovation in smart cities technology, and can leave the city with outdated technologies, considering the inflexibility of some traditional procurement processes.
To overcome this challenge, some cities are incorporating new tools into their traditional processes to accommodate the changing vendor landscape.
Working with a coalition of more than 260 cities to help them engage residents to solve problems, we’ve learned a few things about what makes these relationships work and what can wreck them. When they work, long-term relationships between city leaders and citizens are the foundation for the collaboration that creates strong, vibrant cities.
Disaster resilience is frequently pursued separately by the public and private sectors in the US. Federal, state, and local governments take it as their role to execute disaster preparedness and emergency response for their populations; however, economic recovery is often not addressed. The public sector does not necessarily engage businesses, nor does it seem to plan for the economic “reboot” required after a disaster, resulting in business disruption continuing for much longer.
The clout of local governments should never be underestimated. When Xcel Energy recently made the monumental decision to pursue a 100% carbon reduction goal by 2050, Chairman and CEO Ben Fowke noted that local communities are already leading the charge.
For city residents and businesses, trust is closely aligned with outcomes. When a city creates services that consistently provide the outcomes residents and others expect and rely on, at a fair cost, then a sense of trust is earned and reinforced. Residents expect that the bus service gets them to work and back home safely and on time everyday. When that occurs consistently, they will trust and rely on the bus as their main commute choice.
For many people, the deciding factor in whether to walk or bike isn’t whether there is one really awesome stretch of bike lane or sidewalk on the trip – instead, it is the least safe link in their journey. If we want families, kids, and normal, death-averse people to bike and walk, we need to think about how to design crossings so that people can safely and conveniently get from any area of town to any other.
Though there are many critical factors in creating and sustaining a culture of innovation, leadership has emerged as perhaps the most critical. A change of administration or staff turnover is one of the most common reasons for why these initiatives end. Therefore, it is important to take the politics out of innovation by ensuring that champions are not all political appointees or nearing retirement.
Because Smart City is not only a prestigious label but also a way of thinking, US cities and local governments are reshaping the lines of the public-private partnerships to drive innovation; adding modularity, experiments and collaborative tools to their toolkit for procurement.
To allow city managers to ‘see’ how social, physical and demographic vulnerability is distributed across their city, the UAA provides data at the level of the neighborhood, using census tract data. For each census tract, we provide demographic data on medium household income and ethnic or cultural representation; we allow the user to then overlay aspects of the city’s built environment and social vulnerabilities at that census tract, such as single mothers, access to vehicles, housing instability, building age or infrastructural conditions.
Whether we realize it or not, the design process decides who benefits, who participates, and who counts. When that process is intended to be inclusive of everyone in society, we get places that welcome all, products that work for everyone, and services and systems that benefit each of us.