exploring urban policy + technology + design
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via citylab and the guardian:

Helsinki aims to transcend conventional public transport by allowing people to purchase mobility in real time, straight from their smartphones. The hope is to furnish riders with an array of options so cheap, flexible and well-coordinated that it becomes competitive with private car ownership not merely on cost, but on convenience and ease of use.

Subscribers would specify an origin and a destination, and perhaps a few preferences. The app would then function as both journey planner and universal payment platform, knitting everything from driverless cars and nimble little buses to shared bikes and ferries into a single, supple mesh of mobility. Imagine the popular transit planner Citymapper fused to a cycle hire service and a taxi app such as Hailo or Uber, with only one payment required, and the whole thing run as a public utility, and you begin to understand the scale of ambition here.


Smarter Cities of the Future Will Be More Open, Social | A Smarter Planet Blog

Forward thinking city leaders are looking to embrace the opportunities enabled by technology to overcome the ever-widening range of these significant challenges. Big data and related analytics delivered from the cloud to highly mobile citizens using powerful social media means of communication are mandatory elements of meeting these challenges.


Does San Francisco’s smart parking system reduce cruising for a space?

Transportation energy so dwarfs building energy that even those suburban households with energy-efficient homes and cars use more energy and emit more carbon than ordinary households in urban, transit-served locations.


It’s far too early to say what these services will mean for the good (and bad) old city bus, but they do spark plenty of questions. Will the services disrupt traditional public routes, or will they serve as high-end carpools for workers from similar neighborhoods? Will the benefits they provide for the transportation network outweigh the harm they might cause to social equity? Will cities use them to consider charging a price for private access to the public curb?

And the biggest of all: Will transit agencies fight the services, or use them as motivation to do better themselves?

-The Rise of Private ‘Luxury’ Mass Transit Buses


We post this chart from Marketing Charts every time they update (monthly it looks) because the trend in smartphone penetration doesn’t show any sign of flagging.  We’re now at 70% penetration and guess what, it’s fueling the “everything is going mobile” in a big way.

Smart cities are what happens in the intersection of urbanism and art exploration through digital media facades and other kind of critical thinking interventions in public space in which citizens engage, build, organise, create and share a common platform— our cities.


How Chicago Is Building a Better City With Big Data | People For Smarter Cities

Urban design is no longer just for architects and city planners: Citizens also are getting into the act.

Chicago is one example of how data collected from residents transforms urban design. The project’s aim is to highlight how data generated by citizens can be used to make cities a better place to live. Where does this information come from? It can be gathered from sensors on water pipes that detect leaks, for one. Or it could be as simple as data culled from city-to-citizen social-media engagement. Armed with this, architects, planners and engineers can draw up, create and implement programs in areas such as public safety and transportation that are designed to improve residents’ quality of life.

My Intelligent Cities class has been exploring civic hacking, and one of my favorite examples is SeeClickFix and Open311 in Chicago.

SeeClickFix is a web tool and mobile app in which citizens can report non-emergency problems to their local government, such as potholes, broken traffic lights, or overgrown trees. It was founded in 2008 by ordinary citizens looking to build civic activism and engagement with government, to hold government accountable and improve transparency, and to increase efficiency in solving local problems.

Over 25,000 towns and 8,000 neighborhoods adopted the tool, and in response, many local governments have partnered with SeeClickFix to formalize the process, including the City of Chicago, which now has its own customized Open311 Platform. The city also partnered with Code for America, opening the data and API from its 311 services to invite civic hackers to continually improve the service.

The City of Chicago’s partnerships with SeeClickFix and Code for America to promote and improve upon the process of citizens reporting problems directly to government exemplifies how governments can engage with not only “civic hackers” but with all citizens. The choice to actively embrace the app, open city data, and invite innovation also makes the app more sustainable for the long-term and will potentially reach more people than if it remained purely citizen-driven. It shows how bottom-up processes can combine with top-down governance to benefit both elected officials and citizens, balancing the will of the people with official government services while increasing transparency and engagement.

New York City launched its bike share program Citi Bike last year, making the system data open and downloadable online. This visualization models Citi Bike data over two days in September, spanning about 75,000 rides (via Atlantic Cities.)

This visualization only maps rides from station to station. Still, this limited data already revealed interesting patterns, including peak times, busiest locations at peak times, differences in membership users and casual users, differences in borough usage, and so on.

This presents the opportunity for New York City/Citi Bike to incorporate GPS tracking into the bikes, which already have mobile apps built-in to displays the location and capacity levels of the nearest docking stations. Similar to the data being collected from taxis, and the knowledge the city gained by analyzing their traffic patterns, by incorporating GPS on Citi Bikes to overlay the city’s actual street maps, the city could learn more about bike traffic patterns and hone in on more details, such as which intersections are most congested and when, and adjust bike lane patterns, design, or width accordingly. Combined with regular traffic data and data on accidents, the city could identify and amend particularly dangerous corners, perhaps by altering traffic light patterns and/or alerting bikers when they are approaching a busy/dangerous intersection. Measuring how bikers respond to pilot lanes or new docking stations would also be easier. In essence, bikers become mobile sensors for the city, providing actionable data, and making the city “smarter.”

The most significant impacts of the Internet on people’s lives by 2025 will involve augmented reality applications. Augmented reality tools such as AR mobile browsers (like Layar) or wearables (like Google Glass) will become affordable and widespread, and we will grow accustomed to seeing the world through multiple data layers. This will change a lot of social practices, such as dating, job interviewing and professional networking, and gaming, as well as policing and espionage.

Daren C. Brabham, assistant professor at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, on what digital life will be like in 2025.

Today, Google Glass is being made available to the public.

(via pewinternet)


Project by: Margie Ruddick

Transforming the tangle of infrastructure at the gateway to New York’s Long Island City into a lush green corridor welcoming to pedestrians and bicyclists. For the New York City Department of City Planning and Economic Development Corporation. With Marpillero Pollak, Michael Singer Studio, Leni Schwendinger Light Projects, WRT

(via thisbigcity)

In the radical future, we may not be able to tell the difference between an employee and a customer,” Owyang speculates. “The most successful companies will let the crowd determine products, design, and share them. The crowd is doing most of the work. The only thing that could be left would be the logo.


Multi-use city square built to collect floodwater

Thanks to its proximity to the sea, the flat nature of its topography and high levels of precipitation, the Netherlands is a country that is prone to flooding. When rainfall hits cities such as Rotterdam, it can cause closed roads and ruined basements due to the lack of drainage. Aiming to tackle this problem, Watersquare Benthemplein is a public space featuring a sports pitch, theater and greenery that automatically becomes a reservoir for excess water during heavy rain. READ MORE…