Future Cities Digest #22 (24/04/2014)

by Lukasz Alwast

#Mayors #Challenge #European #competition 

Out of 155 applications, 21 cities made it to the final round of the 2013-2014 Mayors Challenge – a competition set to inspire cities to generate innovative ideas that solvechallenges and improve city life. The cities nominated from the UK include: Bristol – for tackling obesity and unemployment through creating a system that increases access to locally grown food; Cardiff  – for creasing productivity in residents’ personal and professional lives, so that a series of small improvements add up to a much more ‘productive city’; Kirklees – for pooling the city and community’s idle assets, from vehicles to unused spaces to citizens’ untapped time and expertise; London – for empowering citizens to monitor and improve their own health through a coordinated platform with new technologies that improve quality of life; and York – for improving the way citizens, businesses and other propose new ideas to solve top city problems. The main winner of the competition will receive 5mln euro for supporting the vision, while the remaining four finalists will receive 1mln euro. Worth having a lookat the full list of selected cities.

 #urban #agenda #science #base

It might seem that for a few of the Medelline conference participants there still remains a degree of ambiguity around the evidence-base for some of the assumptions framing the recently announcedmanifesto for the New Urban Agenda. Representatives of The Global Urbanist and the World Bank reflected on  their blog sites about the ‘lack of scientific knowledge underpinning the new urban agenda’ and ‘a need for high-quality data to understand how modern cities function’. But rather than exploring new possibilities – they say – the central objective should be to show that the spatial interventions we are already making really do the things we hope they will – ie prove that compact, mixed-use development is inclusive, equitable and sustainable. In this spirit, the Carbon Disclosure  Project released  datasets about the greenhouse emissions and actions on climate change of over 100 large cities from around the world (a project funded by a grant from Bloomberg philanthropies).

 #city #maps #social #computing

A compelling project is run by the Social Computing group at MIT, where a team of designers, computer scientists, artists and educators have set themselves a challenge to create every day a new map that will be ‘an aggregation of the thousands of city micro stories, tracing the narratives of our collective experience’. In the near future the group hopes that these maps will serve as a tool for people to better understand their city, and will provide a language to help people discuss the facets that involve living in their city and making them a better place. In the long run, the group hopes to create maps for advocacy at a much broader scale – the most recent examples including coffee shops in Philadelphia, street greenery in Atlanta and bicycle crashes in Los Angeles.

 #dashboards #data #interfaces #IoT

Much is being written these days about a wide range of new platforms to manage streams of data from the Internet of Things. Today,this still requires some degree of programming knowledge but hopes are shared to create an application as easy as Dropbox to work on data generated from multiple sources. An example of a new product in this space is Freeboard, a virtual dashboard which in ‘a few clicks allows to create quick graphical displays of shared information, such as location, temperature, motor speed, or simply whether a device is on or off’. The model on which this platform is running at the moment resembles GitHub – it lets people use the service free of charge and adds fees when companies want to make the data more private. There are a few examples of these dashboards – eg air quality monitoring in San Francisco, measurements in residential homesor even a home cigar humidor.


Recent reports and publications:

  • The Medellin DeclarationApril 2014, UN Habitat
    (highlights: statement of intent to work towards Habitat III, call to action and framework for the ‘New Urban Agenda’)
  •  U.S Views of Technology and the Future – April 2014, Pew Research Centre
    (highlights: survey of predictions about the long-term future of scientific advancement, feelings and attitudes towards new technological innovation)
  •  Innovation Population – April 2014, NESTA
    (highlights: public opinion research looking at the UK’s views on innovation; 5 attitudinal groups of innovators; areas at which people are most excited about – health, wellbeing and quality of life)

This week’s artefacts from the future:
The Grey Mirror (IDEO)
It is difficult to convince young people to take actions now that will benefit them in the future — even when they understand the benefit at an intellectual level. This gap between belief and action is a risk to their financial well-being and health in later years. Research has shown that, when confronted with artificially aged photographs of themselves, young people are more willing to save for retirement or adopt healthier behaviours. The Gray Mirror is a tool that can be used to encourage young people to empathize with their future selves and to perceive elders in a different light. The screen shows positive messages associated with aging and can be customized for the service being offered.