By Rick Rybeck, Director, Just Economics //
If smart growth is so smart, how come there’s so much dumb growth? Economic incentives for sprawl are partly to blame. If we understand the economic incentives for sprawl, the remedies become clear. Properly applied, these remedies can create jobs, enhance housing affordability and reduce tax burdens.
Today, infrastructure such as transit can be a double-edged sword. We create it to facilitate development. Yet, the resulting inflation in land prices near transit stations often drives development (particularly affordable development) to cheaper but more remote sites. We then extend the infrastructure to these remote sites only to have the process repeat. Thus infrastructure created to facilitate development ends up chasing it away. We run after sprawl with more infrastructure, but never catch up. This process destroys both the countryside and urban budgets as cities end up with much more infrastructure per capita than they would need if development was more compact.
By Jay Walljasper //
Asheville traveled pretty far down the same path as most American cities in the 1970s and 80s with a dwindling downtown and booming suburbs. All the boarded up buildings gave rise to a proposal to tear down eleven square blocks downtown and construct a state-of-the-art shopping mall. Plans fell through and the mall was build elsewhere, hurting downtown even more in the short run but setting the state for a remarkable revival.
Downtown Asheville today – with its wealth of restored art deco architecture and an almost absence of chain stores – rivals the Blue Ridge Mountains and Biltmore mansion as a tourist draw, says Robin Cape of the Asheville Buncombe Sustainable Community Inititative and former city council member. The historical buildings foster lively streetlife, plentiful small businesses and a flourishing arts scene. An old Woolworth store has been repurposed as Woolworth Walk – a collection of galleries featuring photography, paintings, jewelry and music. You can visit artists’ studios in the nearby River Arts District.
By Sam Williams, Business City Partnerships //
Metro cities are the drivers of our nation’s economy and will contain 80% of the population by 2020. They are complex geographic, social, political and economic regions. With a multitude of local governments, issues such as infrastructure, healthcare and economic development frequently bog down in political standoffs.
In The CEO As Urban Statesman, Sam Williams uses case studies including participant interviews and research from five cities to argue that business leaders can and should contribute to their communities by using their business skills to help solve public-policy problems. Leading cross-sector coalitions, focusing on tipping point critical issues, each city has tapped the leadership of business to compliment, not replace, the role of government. Backed by professional staff or consultants these coalitions operated in public meetings recruiting leaders from different viewpoints around the table and determining the facts in a case study method. They then debated a short list of alternatives and focused on most likely solutions driving for consensus and eventual action. It works and Williams tells how with personal interviews and insight.
By Ryan Stanton, Smart Cities Leader, Schneider Electric //
From big data to open data, the discussion of digital data is a hot topic for cities right now. And for good reason, digital data promises to improve decision making by understanding the health of our cities while increasing transparency to citizens and stakeholders. While the use of data has long played a critical role in cities, new technology continues to enable previously unimagined sources and uses of data.
In fact, researchers at IDC report that between 2005 and 2020, the world output of digital data will increase by a factor of 300. Connected sensors now exist in all corners of our cities, providing an almost endless stream of information from smart buildings, traffic sensors, parking sensors, and even citizens themselves. And the pace of deploying connected sensors will only continue, yielding an unfathomable increase in data in just the next 5 years. Yet, the use of this additional data in decision-making doesn’t seem to have caught up.
By Michael Martin, Place-Based Innovation Lead, HD MADE //
I left my job as a city planner and joined a digital creative agency. Why? Because I am certain that to make our future cities versatile, responsive, and engaging, we must combine citizen interaction with smart technology and design.
At HD MADE I lead our place-based initiatives, which include work with the Times Square Alliance and theAlliance for Downtown New York. We’re working with these clients to reimagine how they integrate digital into every part of their organization, programs, and neighborhoods.