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green streets
thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
Curated by Lauren Moss
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Transportation & Innovation: Here Are the First Route and Station Proposals For the Hyperloop

Transportation & Innovation: Here Are the First Route and Station Proposals For the Hyperloop | green streets |

The Hyperloop is an entirely new form of a transportation proposed by Elon Musk that would hypothetically shoot capsules of people through what are essentially giant pneumatic tubes, getting travelers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about half an hour.

It's supposed to be "ultra-clean, ultra safe, affordable, intra-urban travel at super-high speed." Everyone, including Musk, knows it is hypothetical. What Suprastudio, a master's architecture and design studio at UCLA, and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, an Arts District startup, presuppose is: maybe it isn't? The two have been working together to come up with a prototype and the Suprastudio students have just released some of their research and proposals, with ideas for routes, station design, capsule design, and more.

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Rural Urban Framework: Designing Projects that Help Communities Come Together

Rural Urban Framework: Designing Projects that Help Communities Come Together | green streets |

Often lost among the headlines about China's astonishing development has been a growing interest in the corresponding transformation of the Chinese countryside. At the forefront of architectural research and experimentation in this area is Rural Urban Framework (RUF), a studio headed by University of Hong Kong professors Joshua Bolchover and John Lin.

Since 2006, Bolchover and Lin, who originally hail from England and Taiwan, respectively, have been working with nonprofit organizations, private donors, and local governments on projects in villages throughout China. In Qinmo, in southern Guangdong province, they converted a disused school building into a community center, complete with a demonstration farm. In northern Shaanxi province, their Lingzidi bridge spans a small river to better connect local residents with agricultural fields, while accommodating washing, fishing, and small-truck access.

“Nowadays, 50 percent of the world lives in cities,” says Lin. “But we're interested in the other 50 percent—especially in China, one of the most intensively urban and intensively rural places in the world.”

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7 Ways Our Cities Will Change According to TED's Urban Experts

7 Ways Our Cities Will Change According to TED's Urban Experts | green streets |
Silent parks. Designing for disabilities. Human-powered data. Garbage anthropology. World-class sidewalks. Floating favelas. Paint as infrastructure.

These are the keys to the cities of the future, according to the most recent TED conference, City 2.0. Last year, for the first time, the TED Prize went to an idea—the future of the city—and a million dollars was divvied up among ten grantees all over the world.

Last week was the first-ever TED City 2.0 conference, featuring several of those grantees plus many other urban leaders discussing their ideas for the future of the city.

Raymond Versteegh's curator insight, October 6, 2013 3:36 PM

Simple ideas wrapped in big dreams. GET INSPIRED! 

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In the Climate Change Economy, It's About Efficiency, Not Just Growth

In the Climate Change Economy, It's About Efficiency, Not Just Growth | green streets |

North American cities are producing substantially less wealth per ton of greenhouse gas emissions than their European counterparts.

Research has shown that if you know a country's GDP, you can pretty accurately estimate its carbon emissions. There's "almost a mechanical relationship" between the two. And as a depressing corollary: Emissions rise much faster in good times than they fall during, say, a global recession.

Cities in some parts of the world are already doing a substantially better job at decoupling these two trends than others, wringing the most wealth out of the smallest carbon footprint. These are the cities that produce the greatest amount of GDP per ton of greenhouse gasses emitted.

The Carbon Disclosure Project, along with AECOM and the C40 Cities, have calculated this "economic efficiency" for dozens of global cities that participated in a questionnaire on how they are preparing for climate change...

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The Real Reason Cities Are Centers of Innovation

The Real Reason Cities Are Centers of Innovation | green streets |

Throughout human history, people have long found unique value in living and working in cities, even if for reasons they couldn’t quite articulate. Put people together, and opportunities and ideas and wealth seem to grow at a more powerful rate than a simple sum of all our numbers. This has been intuitively true for centuries of city-dwellers.

"What people didn’t know," says MIT researcher Wei Pan, "is why."

In a new paper published in Nature CommunicationsPan and several colleagues argue that the underlying force that drives super-linear productivity in cities is the density with which we're able to form social ties. The larger your city, in other words, the more people (using this same super-linear scale) you’re likely to come into contact with.

"If you think about productivity, it’s all about ideas, information flows, how easily you can access ideas and opportunities," Pan says. "We believe that the interaction mechanism is what drives the productivity of the city."

Norm Miller's curator insight, June 14, 2013 5:35 AM

Similar to Ed Glaeser's views in the Triumph of be City

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Could Earth's Population Peak in 2050?

Could Earth's Population Peak in 2050? | green streets |

For the past two decades, demographers have generally agreed that global population growth will continue to inch steadily higher in the coming century, raising concerns about everything from pollution to housing to the world's water supply.

But a new study out of Spain suggests those estimates may be way off—several billion people off—and that the earth's population could instead peak as soon as 2050. Applying a mathematical model to global population trends, these researchers believe that there will be fewer people living on earth in 2100 than there are today.

In 2011, the United Nations population division predicted a global population of 10.1 billion by 2100, an increase of nearly 50 percent from the earth's current population of 7 billion.

But scientists at the Autonomous University of Madrid and CEU-San Pablo University say their estimates, developed by using techniques from high-level physics to analyze UN population data between 1950 and the present, match that low-fertility curve. That path shows global population peaking in 2050 slightly above eight billion, and then falling back to 6.2 billion by the end of the century, the same as the total world population back in 2000...

Read the complete article for more details and related diagrams.

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Hot in the City: Reducing Heat from Urban Waste

Hot in the City: Reducing Heat from Urban Waste | green streets |

Cities are hotbeds of sustainability, right? From urban agriculture to social enterprise, you’ll find lots of innovative approaches in urban centers, particularly those on the US coasts. Put a lot of people together in one place, and you generate a lot of ideas.

You also generate a lot of heat, it turns out: a new study in Nature Climate Change argues that urban centers (particularly on coasts) generate a lot of waste heat… and that heat is contributing to the weird weather patterns we’ve been seeing lately. This isn’t climate change (in the way we’ve conventionally considered it), nor is it the “urban heat island” effect. Rather, according to the research team that authored the study...

Via Susan Davis Cushing
Gerry B's curator insight, February 11, 2013 12:58 AM

About time something should be done on exhausts coming from cities. 

Riley Tuggle's curator insight, March 10, 10:19 AM

I think this new research proves how much little things we do in the city, such as driving back and forth to a shopping mall everyday, effects the environment and impacts the weather. I live in Florida and I really don't want an even hotter summer when I go into the city, so I hope people (including myself) think about the environment and make better decisions when we are heading to town, like maybe riding a local bus from place to place or car pulling with friends. -RT

Cassie Brannan's curator insight, March 10, 9:58 PM

This article really makes you think about how we take advantage of the opportunities for resource sharing offered in urban settings. I think people don't have to make a place hotter by generating heat. For instance instead of driving your car to work, you could ride a bike or a bus. -CB 

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Reading the City: What Makes a City Smart?

Reading the City: What Makes a City Smart? | green streets |

In Barcelona last month for a conference on smart cities (specifically, on how technology can make cities smarter). There were intriguing presentations and cool-looking “smart” trucks & electric bikes. I could have spent a lot more time “interfacing” with all the technology housed in the Fira de Barcelona convention center.

But I didn’t.

There are two common-sense truths to smart cities.

First, technology is awesome, yes, but we should be viewing it not as a silver bullet but one admittedly phenomenal tool of many in any city’s arsenal. (And, as many asked when the power went out during a panel discussion: How do you have a smart city with no electricity?)

Second, the most successful technologies are well-hidden — invisible, even. So after absorbing about all I could about open data, demand-based pricing and fiber optic networks, I reached a decision: I’m in Barcelona. I can learn a lot more about how a city works by actually experiencing it...

Via Jandira Feijó, Territori
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10 Techniques for Making Cities More Walkable

10 Techniques for Making Cities More Walkable | green streets |
In Jeff Speck’s excellent new book, Walkable City, he suggests that there are ten keys to creating walkability. Most of them also have something to do with redressing the deleterious effects caused by our allowing cars to dominate urban spaces for decades. I don’t necessarily agree with every detail, and my own list might differ in some ways that reflect my own experience and values. But it’s a heck of a good menu to get city leaders and thinkers started in making their communities more hospitable to walkers.

Visit the article link to read more details and examples of the author’s ten steps of walkability...

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What Makes a Great City: A General Theory of Walkability

What Makes a Great City: A General Theory of Walkability | green streets |

City engineers have turned our downtowns into places that are easy to get to but not worth arriving at.

In Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time (public library), city planner Jeff Speck, who spent four years leading the design division of the National Endowment for the Arts working directly with a couple hundred mayors to help solve their greatest city-planning challenges, turns a perceptive eye towards what makes a great city and how we might be able to harness the power of a conceptually simple, practically complex, immeasurably far-reaching solution in improving the fabric and experience of urban life.

Speck outlines a “General Theory of Walkability,” focusing on the four key factors of making a city attractive to pedestrians: 'it must be useful, safe, comfortable, and interesting. Each of these qualities is essential an none alone is sufficient...'

Learn more about urban livability, how to create the conditions that enable pedestrian-oriented development, and the benefits of this approach to urban spaces to the economic, environmental, and cultural health of a city at the article link...

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Cities: Drivers of Sustainable Human Development & Prosperity

Cities: Drivers of Sustainable Human Development & Prosperity | green streets |
As we plan for the future of our planet, it is imperative that we consider the effects of development on both the environment and human populations. A city is only truly sustainable if it uses natural resources efficiently while still fully meeting the needs of its inhabitants and a decent standard of living.

Recently, the UN Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT) launched its “State of the World’s Cities Report 2012/2013” which addresses the prosperity of cities. According to the report, the first step to achieving prosperity is to define the goal: What does prosperity mean in 2012? This is a difficult question to answer given the vast disparity of living conditions throughout the world. Additionally, it is imperative that the definition of prosperity today consider the needs of future generations. To this end, UN-Habitat developed a “City Prosperity Index,” which translates the five dimensions of prosperity identified by UN-Habitiat—productivity, infrastructure development, quality of life, equity and social inclusion, environmental sustainability—into measurable indicators (see page 15 of the report).

This definition of the prosperous city is consistent with the principles of a smart, sustainable and just city... further reading at the article link

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Creating a City-Wide Energy Internet: A new study on urban infrastructure

Creating a City-Wide Energy Internet: A new study on urban infrastructure | green streets |

A new research study addresses the issue of the expanding populations in cities, and provides a solution for adapting urban infrastructure for the needs created by increased density and growth.

Drawing our attention to one core idea that can make our cities more liveable for good, ‘The Time Is Right for Connected Public Lighting Within Smart Cities‘, is a study that looks into the key concepts of urbanization but applies them to a specific context of “an intelligent, networked public lighting infrastructure”. The study dissects the current issues well, reminding us that the urbanization pattern across the world leads to an obviously problematic upswing in energy and resource demand, which in turn threatens the strong identities (inter-city competition and economic performance) that cities across the planet are attempting to shape and maintain.

The solution, according to the report, is the deployment of highly efficient connectivity within cities whether that be information, operational or communication systems – the solution is required urgently. It seems clear that connecting lighting infrastructures will minimize a city’s resource intake, reduce its carbon footprint and make it more resilient and future-proofed. The ripple effects of better lighting systems in cities include safer and more liveable streets (less crime, more appealing urban space and better road safety) and adds to a city’s pull factors for multi-national organisations and tourism...

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The world's leading cities for opportunity: a new report on adaptability, resilience & livability

The world's leading cities for opportunity: a new report on adaptability, resilience & livability | green streets |

A new report ranks the world's leading cities for economic, technological, and social opportunity. New York tops the list of the world’s best "cities of opportunity," with London second and Toronto third.

The report gauges 27 of the world’s largest and most influential global cities on their ability to provide opportunity to their residents — both long-term residents and new immigrants.

It seeks to determine the ability of cities not just to grow and develop, but to provide broad opportunities. It addresses the adaptability and resilience of cities and highlights the connection between quality of life, or livability, and long-term economic growth and development.

The 27 cities covered by the report are global powerhouses, accounting for nearly eight percent of global economic output, while housing just 2.5 percent of its population. The report projects that these 27 cities will add 19 million more residents, 13.7 million more jobs, and $3.3 trillion more in economic output by 2025...

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Washington D.C. – The Most Walkable City in the US?

Washington D.C. – The Most Walkable City in the US? | green streets |

new report from The George Washington University School of Business has unexpectedly named Washington D.C. the most walkable city in the U.S., trumping expected favorites like New York, which ranked second.

Respectively rounding out the top five were Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago. Washington D.C. earned the title of most walkable city in the report not just because it has the highest percentage of office and retail space in its WalkUPs (Walkable Urban Places), but because they are almost evenly distributed between the central city and its suburbs, unlike aforementioned favorites like New York.

More details and information at the link.

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Sustainable Urban Metabolism: How green is your city?

Sustainable Urban Metabolism: How green is your city? | green streets |

In the book, “Sustainable Urban Metabolism,” newly published by MIT Press, the authors set out a new program for doing something that has not yet been achieved: understanding just how many resources cities consume, and establishing, in effect, a holistic framework for producing an environmental balance sheet for every city. 

“The world needs to make a shift to become more sustainable,” says Ferrão, who is the director of the MIT-Portugal Program. “Cities are really the engines of growth, so whatever is going to happen in the world will happen in cities, particularly consumption of material resources.” Indeed, some organizations estimate that about half the world’s people now live in cities, a number likely to increase.

Sharon McLean's curator insight, December 21, 2013 6:49 PM

Urban Sustainability

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Imagining A Future City Filled With Driverless Cars And Without Any Parking Spaces

Imagining A Future City Filled With Driverless Cars And Without Any Parking Spaces | green streets |

As self-driving cars move from fantasy to reality, what kind of effect will they have on cities?

A research and urban prototyping project called Shuffle City investigates, and in the process, becomes a manifesto for a new kind of modern city--one that depends less on traditional public transportation like buses or light rail and more on creating a fleet of continuously moving automated vehicles to serve urban mobility needs.

Shuffle City looks at the new possibilities that could arise from cities transitioning to cars without drivers. If cars were put into some constant flow as a public good, and if people didn’t all have their own vehicles, there would be no need for the concrete wastelands and lifeless towers that serve as a parking infrastructure in the urban landscapes of car-centric cities like Phoenix and Los Angeles (Under the current ownership model, the average car spends 21 hours per day parked.)

The share of city space ruled by parking lots will shrink, making way for more green space, environmental buffers, workspace, housing, retail, and denser planning for more walkable cities...

José Antônio Carlos - O Professor Pepe's curator insight, August 7, 2013 8:41 AM

Um desenho da cidade de nossos sonhos. Carros sem motoristas, ruas sem espaço para estacionamento, e por aí vai.

Kim Spence-Jones's curator insight, August 8, 2013 2:53 AM

Interface between cars and homes is an interesting area of R&D. Everything from entertainment synchronising to battery management.

miguel sa's curator insight, September 4, 2013 4:17 PM

Jacque Fresco has been talking about this sort of thing for awhile now, looks like its coming closer to reality~ 

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How Green Building Standards Can Actually Change People's Behavior

How Green Building Standards Can Actually Change People's Behavior | green streets |
New research suggests LEED-ND projects can dramatically cut down on driving rates.

Confirming previous analysis, newly published research indicates that real estate development located, designed and built to the standards of LEED for Neighborhood Development will have dramatically lower rates of driving than average development in the same metropolitan region.

In particular, estimated vehicle miles per person trip for 12 LEED-ND projects that were studied in depth ranged from 24 to 60 percent of their respective regional averages.

The most urban and centrally located of the projects tended to achieve the highest shares of walking and transit use, and the lowest private vehicle trip lengths.

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America's Best Performing Cities

America's Best Performing Cities | green streets |

Ideas, talent, skills, and density remain key contributors to the growth of America's metros.

Why do some cites and metros grow faster and better than others? It's a subject of considerable debate. Some say growth is a product of innovation and productivity  and others counter that growth is powered more by resources, home-building and extractive industries. Sometimes debates like these need a referee.

That's where a new report on America's "Best-Performing Cities" released this year by the Milken Institute comes in. The Institute's "Best-Performing Cities index" is a comprehensive and objective metric of metro economic performance and represents an outcomes-based accounting of short and long-term changes in economic output, high-tech industry, jobs, and wages.

Read the complete article for details on the rankings for large metros. Four of the top five metros are noted high-tech knowledge economy centers. San Jose tops the list, high-tech hot spots Austin takes second and Raleigh third, and Washington, D.C., comes in fifth place...

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All Placemaking is Creative: How a Shared Focus on Place Builds Vibrant Destinations

All Placemaking is Creative: How a Shared Focus on Place Builds Vibrant Destinations | green streets |

Placemaking is a process, accessible to anyone, that allows peoples’ creativity to emerge. When open and inclusive, this process can be extraordinarily effective in making people feel attached to the places where they live. That makes people more likely to get involved and build shared wealth in their communities.

“Placemaking, applied correctly, can show us new ways to help cultures emerge where openness is not so scary,” notes Dr. Katherine Loflin, the lead project consultant for the Knight Foundation’s groundbreaking study, which showed a significant correlation between community attachment and economic growth. “We could find with consistency over time that it was the softer side of place—social offerings, openness, and aesthetics—that really seem to drive peoples’ attachment to their place. It wasn’t necessarily basic services: how well potholes got paved over. It wasn’t even necessarily for peoples’ personal economic circumstances.”

The study’s other key finding was that there is an empirical relationship between higher levels of attachment and cities’ GDP growth.

Placemaking, in other words, is a vital part of economic development. And yet, there has long been criticism that calls into question whether or not this process is actually helping communities to develop their local economies, or merely accelerating the process of gentrification in formerly-maligned urban core neighborhoods. We believe that this is largely due to confusion over what Placemaking is, and who “gets” to be involved. If Placemaking is project-led, development-led, design-led or artist-led, then it does likely lead to gentrification and a more limited set of community outcomes.

Read the complete article for more on the process of placemaking and the roles community members play in creating vibrant spaces...

Katharine Norman's curator insight, March 15, 2013 3:16 AM

Positive aspects from being connected to your community.


Jennifer Stencel's curator insight, July 3, 12:47 PM

Libraries are an important fixture to create PLACE in their community. But are we doing it?

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Heat from North American cities causing warmer winters, study finds

Heat from North American cities causing warmer winters, study finds | green streets |

Researchers say extra heat generated by huge cities explains additional warming not explained by existing climate models.

Those who wonder why large parts of North America seem to be skipping winter have a new answer in addition to climate change: big city life.

A study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that the heat thrown off by major metropolitan areas on America's east coast caused winter warming across large areas of North America, thousands of miles away from those cities.

Scientists have for years been trying to untangle how big cities – with the sprawl of buildings and cars – affect climate. The study suggests cities themselves have far-reaching effects on climate, in addition to the climate pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

Via SustainOurEarth, Digital Sustainability
Brittany Ortiz's curator insight, September 29, 2014 5:15 PM

Very interesting reading this. It seems quite true since the past winter didn't seem as cold as most winters here in Rhode Island. If the big cities cause the winter to be less cool then in the future, would winter even be cold? Lets hope and say this problem will never happen.

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The Top 10 Most Livable Cities of 2012

The Top 10 Most Livable Cities of 2012 | green streets |
The Quality of Living Survey is conducted annually by Mercer to help multinational companies and organizations fairly compensate their employees when assigning them to international placements.
This year, the company evaluated the local living conditions of more than 460 cities worldwide, and the survey was based on 39 factors, divided into 10 categories: Political and social environment, economic environment, socio-cultural environment, medical and health considerations, schools and education, public services and transportation, recreation, consumer goods, housing, and natural environment.

According to the list, European cities still make up the top of the crop this year, seizing eight out of the top ten slots. Among them, Switzerland and Germany proved best-performing, with three cities in the top ten.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Auckland retains its position as the highest-ranking city when it comes to quality of living. China had three cities edged into the top 100 list, with Hong Kong performing best at the 70th place, Taipei ranked 85th, and Shanghai at the 95th spot...
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An iPad Guide To Building The Perfect Sustainable City

An iPad Guide To Building The Perfect Sustainable City | green streets |

In 2010, Harvard’s Graduate School of Design published Ecological Urbanism, a book of interdisciplinary essays on sustainable city-building. But the project had one inescapable shortcoming: When you’re dealing with a field that’s evolving so rapidly, a finite, physical book is liable to be outdated by the time it leaves the printer.

So upon completing the collection, the school commissioned Portland-based interactive studio Second Story to transform the book into an iPad app, a resource that would draw from the original text but could also be updated with new projects and papers as needed. Now available for free, the app shows how dynamic areas of study can benefit greatly from equally dynamic texts.

Features like interactive graphs are innovative ways to access data, as well as useful tools for understanding it. "While working on the app, we found that the data visualizations revealed patterns that told another meta-story that already existed in the book," he says. "Essentially, the patterns illustrated trends in sustainable design, which is attractive for both scholars and the general reader to see."

Visit the link to learn more about how this new format has given research and urban issues a stronger, more engaging and current platform with which users to engage...

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America's Most Diverse Neighborhoods

America's Most Diverse Neighborhoods | green streets |

Which neighborhoods best reflect American diversity?

To answer this question, the country’s most diverse neighborhoods and metros were identified using Census data on race and ethnicity and diversity was measured as the share of a metro area’s or ZIP code’s population in its largest racial or ethnic group: the smaller the share of the largest group, the more diverse the neighborhood is...

With maps, charts and statistics, the analysis provides an interesting look at the diversity of communities and counties across the country, with it being highest in California and Hawaii, and much of the South.

Learn more about diversity in America's communities at the article link...

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What Exactly Is A Smart City?

What Exactly Is A Smart City? | green streets |

It's possible that the smart-cities movement is being held back by a lack of clarity and consensus around what a smart city is and what the components of a smart city actually are.

'While some people continue to take a narrow view of smart cities by seeing them as places that make better use of information and communication technology (ICT), the cities I work with (and most of the participants in the #smartchat, a monthly Twitterchat about smart cities held on the first Wednesday of each month) all view smart cities as a broad, integrated approach to improving the efficiency of city operations, the quality of life for its citizens, and growing the local economy...

Later this year, they annual rankings of smart cities will be published, and they've been determined by a new rubric for smart cities, 'the Smart Cities Wheel.'

Smart cities are not one size fits all. Yet, the smart-cities movement could benefit from frameworks like the Smart Cities Wheel that allow a common language to develop amongst citizens, city staff, mayors, and the private sector...

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What Makes a Successful Place?

What Makes a Successful Place? | green streets |

When public spaces work well, they serve as a stage for our public lives. So what makes some succeed while others fail?

Great public spaces are where celebrations are held, social and economic exchanges take place, friends run into each other, and cultures mix. They are the “front porches” of our public institutions – libraries, field houses, neighborhood schools – where we interact with each other and government. 

In evaluating thousands of public spaces around the world, PPS has found that successful ones have four key qualities: they are accessible; people are engaged in activities there; the space is comfortable and has a good image; and finally, it is a sociable place: one where people meet each other and take people when they come to visit.

Read the complete article for a more detailed explanation of the diagram illustrating the elements that contribute to successful public spaces, as well as the qualitative and quantitative criteria to consider when evaluating any given location or site...

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