Tags: urban planning*

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  1. What are the limits to urban manufacturing? Surely not everything can be made/produced locally, so as a percentage of a city’s total consumption of resources, how much can we expect to shift?

    In theory, a city could make anything. It depends on factors such as whether we shift to safe, non-polluting products and production processes – one of the reasons for zoning in cities was to separate sensitive uses such as residential areas from the nuisance and potential danger of industrial areas (and there are environmental justice issues with who lives near dirty industry). What a city can produce also depends on what it wishes to prioritise, for example, does it want to invest a lot of land in car-dominated transport, or can it reclaim land for all kinds of productive purposes? Does it have the energy available to relocalise more of its production, or is it willing to invest in building such capacity?And governments and business love to talk about the circular economy, and recycling, but if you’re not making locally, if you’re not providing a way for things to be produced and materials to be remade locally, you don’t have a circular economy.

    Most cities could readily produce more of their own furniture, utensils, fixtures and fittings, appliances, equipment/tools, textiles and clothing – as cities once did anyway before cheap fossil fuels allowed production to sprawl across the globe. But not all cities can or would want to make more complex artefacts like aircraft, which require specialised skills and facilities. It is likely that some kinds of manufacturing will still require an economy of scale – regional, or national, but not necessarily international. It depends on the size of the city; the skills of the workforce; whether the city values local production and associated economic and social benefits over windfalls derived from property speculation; and what its policy and incentive frameworks prioritise, though these are often influenced by national policy.


    Each city will have its own unique way of addressing this, however here are some suggestions:

    Build the understanding and buy-in to get people invested in the idea. Determine how you can best communicate what cosmolocalism means, and articulate the benefits for different interest groups – why would they want to pursue this, what’s the story to engage them with?
    Make an inventory or map of what locally productive capacity already exists, both formal and informal.
    Know when and why local production might not be the best option for a certain activity.
    Keep the emphasis on people and culture first – and then appropriate technology. Give at least as much emphasis to the role of ownership and underlying economic DNA in local production as to the flow of physical materials.
    Appreciate that innovation occurs and is being practised by people who do not identify with the language of innovation, who might not see themselves as entrepreneurs or makers or agents of change. Recognise that remarkable, innovative activity occurs in unexpected places – outside the boundaries of ‘innovation districts’ where, all too often, business and government and the big end of town have determined ‘this is what innovation looks like, who does it, here’s where it happens’ because you will miss many voices, many ideas, and a big part of what’s going on in your city.
    Take some calculated risks – you can’t be innovative, or achieve anything audacious, without it!
    https://ecology.iww.org/texts/misc/Cosmo-localization
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  2. This is probably the key rule, because a simple understanding of economics makes it hard to avoid reaching the conclusion that AVs will result in a ton more driving. If they cut the cost of driving by 80 percent as anticipated, that's supposed to add 60 percent of the traffic to city streets that are already at capacity. That is what has gotten former mayor Bloomberg up in arms, proposing new regulation and policy to avert disaster.

    But it’s actually worse than 60 percent, for a number of reasons. The biggest one is called induced traffic, or the fundamental law of congestion. If you ignore induced demand, 60 percent more trips are not a problem, as long as we have swarming. Elon Musk tells us that a driving lane full of swarming AVs can handle 3 times as many cars as it does today. So, problem solved, until you realize that, these days, traffic congestion is the principal constraint to driving. Because driving is already so subsidized, we do it as much as we can, unless we are punished by traffic.

    This becomes especially alarming when we realize that AVs will make driving cheaper in two ways: money and time. You will pay less per mile, and won’t mind sitting in gridlock as you work or watch cat videos.

    The right solution, is to make the streets what you want them to be. Since cars will be more efficient, you can commit to no increase in driving lanes. Maybe even get rid of a bunch! You can convert parking lanes to bike lanes and express bus lanes, which will still be needed as the AVs reach their natural state of equilibrium, which we know, from the law of induced traffic, will be determined by congestion.

    Now, I’ve been fighting sprawl for a quarter century, with limited success, and everyone knows that it’s a function of four main factors: highways, mortgage programs, local subsidies, and racism. But mostly highways. Before the car, land development was mostly nodal, mostly around rail stops, and therefore walkable. Only with the car did the entire landscape take on wasteful, unwalkable, disconnected forms that now, more than anything else, characterize American life.

    But there is recent good news, which is that cities and towns have begun to figure out that sprawl does not pay for itself. As many of you with sprawling cities can attest, the tax revenue from low-density sprawl is not enough to replace roads and pipes once they fail. For this reason, we can hope that the next great inducement to national sprawl, cheap autonomous vehicles, will not have as great an impact as universal car ownership did. But this is only a hope, which is why smart growth policy is needed.

    It sounds implausible, but there is a very real worry that AV providers will ask to buy certain city streets, or certain segments of city streets, and cities will take the money. This has precedents—like Chicago leasing it’s on-street parking to Morgan Stanley for 75 years. We need to remember that your city’s streets are its principal public spaces and, especially downtown, they perform many more jobs than just moving vehicles. They are places to walk, bike, access buildings, dine, converse, grow trees, protest, and much more, and they belong to us all.

    I particularly like this recent quote from Adam Gopnik: “Cities are their streets. Streets are not a city’s veins, but its neurology, its accumulated intelligence.” Never sell that.

    Another ownership issue has to with all the traffic data collected by Uber, which cities can benefit from in many ways—for example knowing which way to send a fire truck. Like Uber, AVs will represent a viable business model only by running on public streets. Sharing full data would seem a small price to pay for that privilege.
    https://www.cnu.org/publicsquare/2017...rules-cities-about-automated-vehicles
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  3. The “bad part of town” will be full of algorithms that shuffle you straight from high-school detention into the prison system. The rich part of town will get mirror-glassed limos that breeze through the smart red lights to seamlessly deliver the aristocracy from curb into penthouse.

    These aren’t the “best practices” beloved by software engineers; they’re just the standard urban practices, with software layered over. It’s urban design as the barbarian’s varnish on urbanism. People could have it otherwise, technically, if they really wanted it and had the political will, but they don’t. So they won’t get it.
    https://www.theatlantic.com/technolog.../stupid-cities/553052/?utm_source=twb
    Voting 0
  4. The key concept to grasp with driverless cars is that they truly redefine all of our assumptions and preconceived notions. Combustion engines are replaced by two small electric motors, the dashboard and steering wheel are unnecessary, and safety features are redundant when the cars don’t crash.

    Driverless vehicles are simply rooms sitting atop an all-electric drivetrain and rechargeable battery pack with a few extra visual, laser or radar sensors.
    Tesla Powertrain

    In a Tesla Model S there are only 18 moving parts compared to the 1500 in an average internal combustion engine vehicle. As such it’s predicted that by 2025 all new vehicles produced will be 100% electric and cost much less than the cheapest combustion engine vehicles sold today.
    https://medium.com/@nathanwaters/driv...rbnb-and-human-landlords-e39f92cf16e1
    Tags: , by M. Fioretti (2018-01-07)
    Voting 0
  5. In the city of Kampot in southern Cambodia, the extraction of sand from an estuary on the Praek Tuek Chhu river is increasing and sand extraction is so common in Asia currently that the continent may deplete all of its sand in the not-too-distant future.

    A 2016 investigation revealed that Singapore imported some $752 million in sand from Cambodia. However, Cambodia only reported that they had exported $5.5 million worth of sand to Singapore. The discrepancy between the figures compelled officials in both countries to curb all sand exports in July.

    "It was a systematic fraud," said Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, co-founder of Mother Nature, an environmental group in Cambodia. "Taxes were evaded for 95 percent of the exports."

    Other countries in Asia, including Indonesia and Vietnam, have restricted sand exports over the last few years due to environmental damage. In the same vein, India had limited licenses for sand exportation.
    https://sputniknews.com/environment/2...ce-doom-asian-infrastructure-projects
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2018-01-07)
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  6. From 1900 to 2010, the amount of materials accumulated in buildings and infrastructure across the world increased 23-fold. We are depleting our resources at unprecedented rates. Instead of extracting dwindling raw materials from nature at ever-increasing cost, the time has come to start re-using materials from buildings and infrastructure in our cities.

    We have been working on identifying the material resources in cities that could be “mined” for re-use. In a case study, we modelled more than 13,000 buildings in central Melbourne, Australia. We estimated the quantities of construction materials as well as the embodied energy, water and greenhouse gas emissions associated with constructing these buildings (if they were built today). We also modelled the replacement of materials over time and into the future.

    Further reading: The 20th century saw a 23-fold increase in natural resources used for building

    The extraction and transformation of resources have broad environmental effects. These include resource depletion, loss of biodiversity, soil and water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions, which drive climate change.

    Adding to these challenges is the amount of waste generated, especially by the construction sector due to construction, renovation and demolition activities. Every time a construction material is discarded, all the embodied energy, water and emissions that went into producing it also go to waste.

    In our two recent studies, we propose a model that can help us “mine” our cities and quantify the environmental benefits of this urban mining.


    These maps allow us to start thinking of cities as urban mines and places of material production (supply), rather than just consumption (demand).

    We can imagine how a new construction project could survey what materials would be available at its start and how it can best re-use these and incorporate them into the design. This would save large amounts of energy and water, while avoiding greenhouse gas emissions and further ecosystem degradation from raw material extraction (usually far from the city).
    https://theconversation.com/with-the-right-tools-we-can-mine-cities-87672
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  7. Mr. West also provides an elegant explanation of why living organisms have a natural limit to growth and life span following a predictable curve, as an increasing proportion of energy consumed is required for maintenance and less is available to fuel further expansion.

    When he turns to cities, Mr. West shows that infrastructure growth scales in analogous sublinear fashion. Hence, the number of gas stations or length of roads needed when a city doubles its size reflects similar economies of scale. But relevant socioeconomic qualities actually scale superlinearly by the same factor. And while it is good news that large cities produce higher wages and more patents per inhabitant, they also generate relatively greater crime and disease. This conundrum is at the heart of Mr. West’s sustainability concerns. Theoretically, unbounded growth of cities generated by superlinear scaling “if left unchecked, potentially sow s » the seeds of their inevitable collapse.”
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    Despite his reliance on the analysis of huge troves of data to develop and support his theories, in the concluding chapters, Mr. West makes a compelling argument against the “arrogance and narcissism” reflected in the growing fetishization of “big data” in itself. “Data for data’s sake,” he argues, “or the mindless gathering of big data, without any conceptual framework for organizing and understanding it, may actually be bad or even dangerous.”

    In presenting his own provocative and fascinating conceptual framework, Mr. West manages to deliver a lot of theory and history accessibly and entertainingly. Yet it is not clear whether that framework is robust enough to be applied productively to the business realm as he attempts to do.

    Mr. West concedes early on that the strength of mathematical correlations on which he relies decreases as he moves from the biological to the urban to the corporate.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/26/bu...growth-innovation-sustainability.html
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  8. According to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association, the United States saw its largest annual increase in pedestrian fatalities since such record keeping began 40 years ago. "The association » estimated there were 6,000 pedestrian deaths in 2016, the highest number in more than 20 years," reports CNN. "Since 2010, pedestrian fatalities have grown at four times the rate of overall traffic deaths." From the report:
    The thing that has changed dramatically in recent years is smartphone use. The volume of wireless data used from 2014 to 2015 more than doubled, according to the Wireless Association. Drivers and pedestrians who are distracted by their smartphones are less likely to be aware of their surroundings, creating the potential for danger. The Governors Highway Safety Association looked at data from the first six months of 2016 that came from 50 state highway safety offices and the District of Columbia. The complete data will be available later this year. The findings come as traffic safety experts have called for totally eliminating deaths on roadways. Near-term solutions include designing roads and vehicles to be safer. Cutting down on speeding and drunk driving are obvious targets.
    http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/30/technology/pedestrian-safety-smartphones
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  9. occorre che sopratutto il "popolo condominiale" diventi consapevole che buona parte dei fabbricati storici e quelli costruiti oltre cinquant'anni fa in cemento armato, ha superato da un pezzo il cosiddetto "ciclo vita edilizio", pertanto pronto per il suo pensionamento e sostituzione urbanistica con un nuovo e migliore organismo.

    Da qui trae inizio l'esigenza della tanto acclamata "rigenerazione urbana".
    http://www.condominioweb.com/fascicolo-fabbricato-obbligo.13529
    Voting 0
  10. Mallach’s non-profit focused on revitalizing distressed neighborhoods, particularly in “legacy cities.” These are towns like St. Louis, Flint, Dayton, and Baltimore, that have experienced population loss and economic contraction in recent years, and suffer from property vacancies, blight, and unemployment. Mallach is interested in understanding which neighborhoods are likely to continue down that path, and which ones will do a 180-degree turn. Right now, he can intuitively make those predictions, based on his observations on neighborhood characteristics like housing stock, median income, and race. But an objective assessment can help confirm or deny his hypotheses.

    That’s where Steif comes in. Having consulted with cities and non-profits on place-based data analytics, Steif has developed a number of algorithms that predict the movement of housing markets using expensive private data from entities like Zillow. Mallach suggested he try his algorithms on Census data, which is free and standardized.

    The phenomenon he tested was ‘endogenous gentrification’—this idea that an increase in home prices moves from wealthy neighborhoods to less expensive ones in its vicinity, like a wave. In his blog post, Steif explains:
    https://www.citylab.com/cityfixer/201...ms-that-predict-gentrification/516945
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