Urban Planning

Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia

Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia
W. W. Norton & Company

Anthony M. Townsend
10/07/2013

An unflinching look at the aspiring city-builders of our smart, mobile, connected future.

We live in a world defined by urbanization and digital ubiquity, where mobile broadband connections outnumber fixed ones, machines dominate a new "internet of things," and more people live in cities than in the countryside. In Smart Cities, urbanist and technology expert Anthony Townsend takes a broad historical look at the forces that have shaped the planning and design of cities and information technologies from the rise of the great industrial cities of the nineteenth century to the present. A century ago, the telegraph and the mechanical tabulator were used to tame cities of millions. Today, cellular networks and cloud computing tie together the complex choreography of mega-regions of tens of millions of people.

In response, cities worldwide are deploying technology to address both the timeless challenges of government and the mounting problems posed by human settlements of previously unimaginable size and complexity. In Chicago, GPS sensors on snow plows feed a real-time "plow tracker" map that everyone can access. In Zaragoza, Spain, a "citizen card" can get you on the free city-wide Wi-Fi network, unlock a bike share, check a book out of the library, and pay for your bus ride home. In New York, a guerrilla group of citizen-scientists installed sensors in local sewers to alert you when stormwater runoff overwhelms the system, dumping waste into local waterways.

As technology barons, entrepreneurs, mayors, and an emerging vanguard of civic hackers are trying to shape this new frontier, Smart Cities considers the motivations, aspirations, and shortcomings of them all while offering a new civics to guide our efforts as we build the future together, one click at a time.

Social Media in Disaster Preparation, Response, and Recovery

Social Media in Disaster Preparation, Response, and Recovery
TR News July-August 2013: Logistics of Disaster Response

Sarah M. Kaufman
09/27/2013

Social media have become an essential source of information before, during, and after disasters. Social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr—instantaneous, far-reaching, and interactive— have become the convergence point for a range of information sources, dialogues, and dynamic content. A survey conducted by the New York University (NYU) Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management found that during Superstorm Sandy, social media were the second-highest-rated source of information, ranking higher than other popular sources such as television and radio news, news websites, and community groups.

Residential Street Parking and Car Ownership

Residential Street Parking and Car Ownership
Journal of the American Planning Association 79.1 (2013): 32-48.

Guo, Zhan.
05/09/2013

Problem, research strategy, and findings: Local governments’ minimum street-width standards may force developers to oversupply, and residents to pay excessively for, on-street parking in residential neighborhoods. Such oversupply is often presumed to both encourage car ownership and reduce housing affordability, although little useful evidence exists either way. This article examines the impact of street-parking supply on the car ownership of households with off-street parking in the New York City area.

The off- and on-street parking supply for each household was measured through Google Street View and Bing Maps. The impact of on-street parking on car ownership levels was then estimated in an innovative multivariate model. The unique set-up of the case study ensures 1) the weak endogeneity between parking supply and car ownership and 2) the low correlation between off-street and on-street parking supply, two major methodological challenges of the study. Results show that free residential street parking increases private car ownership by nearly 9%; that is, the availability of free street parking explains 1 out of 11 cars owned by households with off-street parking.

Takeaway for practice: These results offer support for community street standards that make on-street parking supply optional. They also suggest the merits of leaving the decisions of whether, and how many, on-street parking spaces to provide in new residential developments to private markets rather than regulations.

Research support: This project was supported by grants from the University Transportation Research Center (Region 2) and the Wagner School Faculty Research Fund.

How New York Housing Policies Are Different -- and Maybe Why

How New York Housing Policies Are Different -- and Maybe Why
In Andrew Beveridge and David Halle, New York City-Los Angeles: The Uncertain Future. Oxford University Press, 2013.

Ellen, I.G. & O'Flaherty, B.
05/07/2013

Almost everyone says New York City is exceptional, and many people think that housing is one of the most exceptional aspects of New York life. But New York’s housing conditions are not so different from those in other large US cities, or at least not in the ways that are commonly believed. Policies, not conditions, are what truly set New York’s housing market apart.  Our aim in this chapter is to describe New York City’s policies, to explore how and why they differ from those in Los Angeles and other large cities, and whether they have shaped how New York City’s housing market has weathered the recent downturn. The policies we consider are public housing, in rem properties, other subsidized housing, rent regulation, housing allowances, city capital subsidies for construction and rehabilitation, special needs housing, local tax structures, and building codes. Do unusual housing market conditions lead to these unusual policies? Do some common factors cause both unusual policies and conditions? Naturally, we cannot answer these questions definitively. But we can offer some alternative explanations.

Overweight, obesity, and inactivity and urban design in rapidly growing Chinese cities

Overweight, obesity, and inactivity and urban design in rapidly growing Chinese cities
Health & Place, 21, 29-38. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2012.12.009

Day, K, M Alfonzo, Y F Chen, Z Guo, and K K Lee
05/01/2013

China faces rising rates of overweight, obesity, and physical inactivity among its citizens. Risk is highest in China’s rapidly growing cities and urban populations. Current urban development practices and policies in China heighten this risk. These include policies that support decentralization in land use planning; practices of neighborhood gating; and policies and practices tied to motor vehicle travel, transit planning, and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. In this paper, we review cultural, political, and economic issues that influence overweight, obesity, and inactivity in China. We examine key urban planning features and policies that shape urban environments that may compromise physical activity as part of everyday life, including walking and bicycling. We review the empirical research to identify planning and design strategies that support physical activity in other high-density cities in developing and developed countries. Finally, we identify successful strategies to increase physical activity in another growing, high-density city – New York City – to suggest strategies that may have relevance for rapidly urbanizing Chinese cities.

How Social Media Moves New York, Part 2: Recommended Social Media Policy for Transportation Providers

How Social Media Moves New York, Part 2: Recommended Social Media Policy for Transportation Providers
NYU Rudin Center for Transportation, December 2012

Kaufman, Sarah.
12/01/2012

Social media networks allow transportation providers to reach large numbers of people simultaneously and without a fee, essential factors for the millions of commuters and leisure travelers moving through the New York region every day. This report, based on earlier findings (from Part 1), which analyzed local transportation providers’ use of social media, and a seminar on the subject in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, recommends social media policies for transportation providers seeking to inform, engage and motivate their customers.

The goals of social media in transportation are to inform (alert riders of a situation), motivate (to opt for an alternate route), and engage (amplify the message to their friends and neighbors). To accomplish these goals, transportation providers should be:

- Accessible: Easily discovered through multiple channels and targeted information campaigns

- Informative: Disseminating service information at rush hour and with longer-form discussions on blogs as needed

- Engaging: Responding directly to customers, marketing new services, and building community

- Responsive: Soliciting and internalizing feedback and self-evaluating in a continuous cycle

Urban Mobility in the 21st Century

Urban Mobility in the 21st Century
The Furman Center for Transportationan and

Moss, Mitchell L. and Hugh O'Neil
11/12/2012

Between 2010 and 2050, the number of people living in the world’s urban areas is expected to grow by 80 percent – from 3.5 billion to 6.3 billion. This growth will pose great challenges for urban mobility – for the networks of transportation facilities and services that maintain the flow of people and commerce into, out of and within the world’s cities.

Addressing the challenge of urban mobility is essential – for maintaining cities’ historic role as the world’s principal sources of innovation and economic growth, for improving the quality of life in urban areas and for mitigating the impact of climate change. It will require creative applications of new technologies, changes in the way transportation services are organized and delivered, and innovations in urban planning and design.

This report examines several aspects of the challenge of urban mobility in the twenty-first century – the growth of the world’s urban population, and changes in the characteristics of that population; emerging patterns of urban mobility; and changes in technology design and connectivity.

 

 

Transportation During and After Hurricane Sandy

Transportation During and After Hurricane Sandy
Rudin Center for Transportation, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, November 2012

Kaufman, Sarah, Carson Qing, Nolan Levenson and Melinda Hanson
11/01/2012

Hurricane Sandy demonstrated the strengths and limits of the transportation infrastructure in New York City and the surrounding region. As a result of the timely and thorough preparations by New York City and the MTA, along with the actions of city residents and emergency workers to evacuate and adapt, the storm wrought far fewer casualties than might have occurred otherwise.

This report evaluates storm preparation and response by New York City and the MTA, discusses New Yorkers' ingenuity in work continuity, and recommends infrastructure and policy improvements.

Commuting to Manhattan, A study of residence location trends for Manhattan workers from 2002 to 2009

Commuting to Manhattan, A study of residence location trends for Manhattan workers from 2002 to 2009
March 2012

Moss, Mitchell L., Carson Y. Qing, and Sarah Kaufman.
03/01/2012

Manhattan, a global center of  finance, culture, fashion and media, harnesses a workforce of 2 million people. Regionally, Manhattan is the business hub for the New York metropolitan area, with commuters entering the city every morning from the other four boroughs,  suburban counties in New Jersey, the Hudson Valley, western Connecticut, and Long Island, and distant locations, such as eastern Pennsylvania. The workforce of Manhattan is both growing and changing. There is a growing set of high-income, service-related occupations, and an increasing number of workers are residing in the outer boroughs or to the west, across the Hudson River in New Jersey. In fact, Manhattan now has 59,000 “super-commuters” who do not live within the metropolitan region. This report examines key trends in the residential location of Manhattan workers and will also discuss the travel, occupation, and income characteristics of Manhattan workers living in the surrounding metropolitan region. Finally, we explore the strength, resilience and vitality of Manhattan as a global economic and cultural hub in the 21st century.

The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011

The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011
January 2012

Ballon, Hilary
01/01/2012

Laying out Manhattan's street grid and providing a rationale for the growth of New York was the city's first great civic enterprise, not to mention a brazenly ambitious project and major milestone in the history of city planning. The grid created the physical conditions for business and society to flourish and embodied the drive and discipline for which the city would come to be known. Published to coincide with an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York celebrating the bicentennial of the Commissioners' 1811 Plan of Manhattan, this volume does more than memorialize such a visionary effort, it serves as an enduring reference full of rare images and information.

The Greatest Grid shares the history of the Commissioners' plan, incorporating archival photos and illustrations, primary documents and testimony, and magnificent maps with essential analysis. The text, written by leading historians of New York City, follows the grid's initial design, implementation, and evolution, and then speaks to its enduring influence. A foldout map, accompanied by explanatory notes, reproduces the Commissioners' original plan, and additional maps and prints chart the city's pre-1811 irregular growth patterns and local precedent for the grid's design. Constituting the first sustained examination of this subject, this text describes the social, political, and intellectual figures who were instrumental in remaking early New York, not in the image of old Europe but as a reflection of other American cities and a distinct New World sensibility. The grid reaffirmed old hierarchies while creating new opportunities for power and advancement, giving rise to the multicultural, highly networked landscape New Yorkers thrive in today.

 

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