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Exergy and the City: The Technology and Sociology of Power (Failure)

December 16, 2014 Comments off

Exergy and the City: The Technology and Sociology of Power (Failure)
Source: Journal of Urban Technology

Blackouts—the total loss of electrical power—serve as a reminder of how dependent the modern world and particularly urban areas have become on electricity and the appliances it powers. To understand them we consider the critical nature of electrical infrastructure. In order to provide general patterns from specific cases, a large number of blackouts have been analyzed. Irrespective of cause, they display similar effects. These include measurable economic losses and less easily quantified social costs. We discuss financial damage, food safety, crime, transport, and problems caused by diesel generators. This is more than just a record of past failures; blackouts are dress rehearsals for the future in which they will appear with greater frequency and severity. While energy cannot be destroyed, exergy—the available energy within a system—can be. Exergy is concerned with energy within an “environment;” in this case a city. The bottom line is simple: no matter how “smart” a city may be, it becomes “dumb” when the power goes out.

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Eds, Meds, and the Feds: New CAP Report Details How the Federal Government Can Leverage Economic Power of Anchor Institutions

December 10, 2014 Comments off

Eds, Meds, and the Feds: New CAP Report Details How the Federal Government Can Leverage Economic Power of Anchor Institutions
Source: Center for American Progress

A new report from the Center for American Progress details how the federal government can play a larger and more meaningful role in encouraging partnerships between cities and communities and anchor institutions to increase community revitalization and economic growth. Universities and hospitals, collectively called “Eds and Meds,” are commonly referred to as anchor institutions, as they are rooted in the communities where they are located.

CAP’s report notes that many American mayors, including Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, are already smartly leveraging partnerships with anchor institutions to advance a variety of goals, including economic development, public safety, hiring, purchasing, and improving quality of life. The federal government—which has a history of supporting these partnerships—can help further this process and has a vested interest in exploring strategies that harness the power of anchors to increase community revitalization and economic growth.

Structured Open Urban Data: Understanding the Landscape

December 3, 2014 Comments off

Structured Open Urban Data: Understanding the Landscape
Source: Big Data

A growing number of cities are now making urban data freely available to the public. Besides promoting transparency, these data can have a transformative effect in social science research as well as in how citizens participate in governance. These initiatives, however, are fairly recent and the landscape of open urban data is not well known. In this study, we try to shed some light on this through a detailed study of over 9,000 open data sets from 20 cities in North America. We start by presenting general statistics about the content, size, nature, and popularity of the different data sets, and then examine in more detail structured data sets that contain tabular data. Since a key benefit of having a large number of data sets available is the ability to fuse information, we investigate opportunities for data integration. We also study data quality issues and time-related aspects, namely, recency and change frequency. Our findings are encouraging in that most of the data are structured and published in standard formats that are easy to parse; there is ample opportunity to integrate different data sets; and the volume of data is increasing steadily. But they also uncovered a number of challenges that need to be addressed to enable these data to be fully leveraged. We discuss both our findings and issues involved in using open urban data.

Latest Home Listing Report Ranks Most Expensive and Affordable Cities to Buy a Home

November 14, 2014 Comments off

Latest Home Listing Report Ranks Most Expensive and Affordable Cities to Buy a Home
Source: Coldwell Banker

For the second time in three years, Los Altos, Calif. ranks as the most expensive real estate market in the country, where that size home averages $1,963,100. That’s six times the national average! With the tech boom getting hotter each year, it’s no surprise that Los Altos continues to be one of the most coveted places to live. In fact, California’s Silicon Valley is home to seven of the 10 most expensive cities in this year’s report.

On the other end of the spectrum, Cleveland, Ohio ranks as the most affordable city in the country at $64,993. The Midwestern town, which is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is experiencing its own resurgence of growth.

2014 Municipal Equality Index

November 14, 2014 Comments off

2014 Municipal Equality Index
Source: Human Rights Campaign

The Municipal Equality Index (MEI) examines the laws, policies, and services of municipalities and rates them on the basis of their inclusivity of LGBT people who live and work there.

The 2014 MEI rates a total of 353 cities from every state in the nation, which is an increase of more than 60 cities rated in 2013.

Urban Computing: Concepts, Methodologies, and Applications

November 10, 2014 Comments off

Urban Computing: Concepts, Methodologies, and Applications
Source: Microsoft Research

Urbanization’s rapid progress has modernized many people’s lives, and also engendered big issues, such as traffic congestion, energy consumption, and pollution. Urban computing aims to tackle these issues by using the data that has been generated in cities, e.g., traffic flow, human mobility and geographical data. Urban computing connects urban sensing, data management, data analytics, and service providing into a recurrent process for an unobtrusive and continuous improvement of people’s lives, city operation systems, and the environment. Urban computing is an interdisciplinary field where computer sciences meet conventional city-related fields, like transportation, civil engineering, environment, economy, ecology, and sociology, in the context of urban spaces. This article first introduces the concept of urban computing, discussing its general framework and key challenges from the perspective of computer sciences. Secondly, we classify the applications of urban computing into seven categories, consisting of urban planning, transportation, the environment, energy, social, economy, and public safety & security, presenting representative scenarios in each category. Thirdly, we summarize the typical technologies that are needed in urban computing into four folds, which are about urban sensing, urban data management, knowledge fusion across heterogeneous data, and urban data visualization. Finally, we outlook the future of urban computing, suggesting a few research topics that are somehow missing in the community.

U.S. Workers’ Diverging Locations: Policy and Inequality Implications

November 7, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Workers’ Diverging Locations: Policy and Inequality Implications (PDF)
Source: Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research

Over the past three decades, the earnings of workers with a college education have substantially increased relative to those with less education. In 1980, the average college graduate earned 38% more than the average high school graduate. By 2000, the college-high school graduate wage gap increased to 57%, and by 2011 it rose to 73%.1 At the same time, workers have become increasingly spatially segregated by education. Cities that initially had a large share of college graduates in 1980 increasingly attracted larger shares of college educated workers from 1980 to 2000, while cities with relatively less educated populations in 1980 gained few college grads over the following 20 years. The increasingly “highly educated cities” also experienced higher wage growth for both low- and high-skill workers and substantially larger increases in housing costs. The economic trajectories of these increasing high skill cities are diverging from those with fewer college graduates (Moretti, 2013).

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