Archive for the ‘urban issues’ Category

AU — Risky facilities: Analysis of crime concentration in high-rise buildings

September 23, 2014 Comments off

Risky facilities: Analysis of crime concentration in high-rise buildings
Source: Australian Institute of Criminology

Current town planning and housing policies suggest that in the very near future, housing density in major Australian cities will be much higher than current levels. To date, little attention has been paid to how these policy shifts will impact levels of crime and fear of crime. The aim of this research is to contribute to the development of strategic policy for the secure management of high-density housing. By analysing actual rates and types of crime, guardianship levels, building management styles and perceptions of fear of crime, the research will reveal how planning policies and high-rise building management styles can coalesce to create safer vertical communities. The research focuses on high-rise apartments and touristic buildings on the Gold Coast (specifically Surfers Paradise) and identifies the disproportionate concentration of crimes among a handful of buildings. Results may help state and local governments in Australia to avoid repeating the housing policy mistakes experienced by other countries.

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Infrastructure 2014: Shaping the Competitive City

September 22, 2014 Comments off

Infrastructure 2014: Shaping the Competitive City (PDF)
Source: Urban Land Institute

How do real estate developers and investors — who could pursue opportunities regionally, nationally, or internationally—think about infrastructure? How do city leaders use infrastructure investments to position their cities for real estate investment and economic development? What role does infrastructure play relative to other economic development strategies? And are public and private perceptions and priorities aligned—or do they diverge, and in what ways?

To provide answers, researchers for Infrastruc – ture 2014 crafted a series of survey questions and asked high-level public officials and private real estate leaders to weigh in. Nearly 250 public sector leaders in local and regional government and over 200 senior-level private developers, in – vestors, and real estate advisers responded to the survey. About 86 percent of survey respondents were based in the United States, with the balance located in countries across the globe.

Nearly every city aspires to grow, and high- quality infrastructure—infrastructure that is well maintained, reliable, safe, resilient, and customer friendly—contributes to well-functioning, growth-primed cities—cities that attract new residents and retain existing ones.

Infrastructure—the physical facilities and systems that support economic activity—is often seen as a driver of real estate and development, especially by those who are in the business of pro – viding it. But do the people actually building and investing in real estate agree? The Infrastructure 2014 survey tells us “yes”—and a number of other interesting things as well.

New Census Data Show Few Metro Areas Made Progress Against Poverty in 2013

September 22, 2014 Comments off

New Census Data Show Few Metro Areas Made Progress Against Poverty in 2013
Source: Brookings Institution

Newly released Census Bureau data confirm that, four years into an official economic recovery, the nation’s largest metro areas continued to struggle with stubbornly high poverty levels even amid improving employment numbers.

New Report Reveals What Americans Want From Public Transit

September 22, 2014 Comments off

New Report Reveals What Americans Want From Public Transit
Source: TransitCenter

A first-of-its-kind study about attitudes toward transit use in the U.S. was released today by TransitCenter, a philanthropy committed to improving transit through innovation. The study – Who’s on Board: The 2014 Mobility Attitudes Survey – reveals that Americans from regions coast to coast think about and use public transit in remarkably similar ways. The report is the first to compare rider and non-rider attitudes by age, income, education, family status and ethnicity, and to examine both cities and suburban areas across various regions of the U.S.

The survey, the largest of its kind, sampled nearly 12,000 people from a selection of 46 metro areas across the country, including a mix of “transit progressive” cities (such as Miami, Denver, Seattle, and Minneapolis) and “transit deficient” cities (such as Tampa, Dallas, Fresno, and Detroit) revealing several surprising trends about today’s public transit commuters:

  • Riders of all ages and in all regions place the greatest value on factors like travel time, proximity, cost, and reliability above safety, frequency, and perks like Wi-Fi when choosing whether or not to take public transportation.
  • There is a high demand for quality public transportation nationwide, but such infrastructure is often missing in the places where people currently live; There is also a high, unmet demand for neighborhoods with a mix of housing, retail, and commercial space – 58 percent of survey respondents said their ideal neighborhood contained “a mix of houses, shops, and businesses,” but only 39 percent currently live in that type of neighborhood.
  • People with children are just as likely to use transit as people without children, when factors like place of residence and age are accounted for. Where transit is effective, families will – and already do – ride transit to meet their daily needs. Places that want to use transit to attract young people should take heart: Transit will not lose its appeal for young residents starting families.
  • Wealthy Americans want to ride public transportation too: In transit-rich “Traditional Cities” like New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, DC and Chicago, people with a $150,000 or greater salary are just as likely to ride public transportation as people with a $30,000 salary.
  • Even though they grew up using public transit more than today’s youth, America’s Baby Boomers are mostly reluctant to use public transit now. Americans under 30 are 2.3 times more likely to ride public transit than Americans age 30-60, and 7.2 times more likely than Americans over 60. Even after controlling for other factors, older people are less likely to ride transit than younger people.
  • “Traditional Cities” have the greatest share of transit users and commuters, followed by the West Coast cities, where 31% of people under 30 used public transit at least once a week.

Urbanisation at Multiple Scales Is Associated with Larger Size and Higher Fecundity of an Orb-Weaving Spider

September 11, 2014 Comments off

Urbanisation at Multiple Scales Is Associated with Larger Size and Higher Fecundity of an Orb-Weaving Spider
Source: PLoS ONE

Urbanisation modifies landscapes at multiple scales, impacting the local climate and changing the extent and quality of natural habitats. These habitat modifications significantly alter species distributions and can result in increased abundance of select species which are able to exploit novel ecosystems. We examined the effect of urbanisation at local and landscape scales on the body size, lipid reserves and ovary weight of Nephila plumipes, an orb weaving spider commonly found in both urban and natural landscapes. Habitat variables at landscape, local and microhabitat scales were integrated to create a series of indexes that quantified the degree of urbanisation at each site. Spider size was negatively associated with vegetation cover at a landscape scale, and positively associated with hard surfaces and anthropogenic disturbance on a local and microhabitat scale. Ovary weight increased in higher socioeconomic areas and was positively associated with hard surfaces and leaf litter at a local scale. The larger size and increased reproductive capacity of N.plumipes in urban areas show that some species benefit from the habitat changes associated with urbanisation. Our results also highlight the importance of incorporating environmental variables from multiple scales when quantifying species responses to landscape modification.

See: The Urban Environment Is Creating Super-Sized Spiders (The Atlantic)

Categories: ecology, PLoS ONE, urban issues

Rise of the Startup City: The Changing Geography of the Venture Capital Financed Innovation

September 8, 2014 Comments off

Rise of the Startup City: The Changing Geography of the Venture Capital Financed Innovation
Source: Martin Prosperity Institute (Richard Florida)

Virtually the entire modern literature on urban economics – from Jane Jacobs and Robert Lucas to Edward Glaeser and Richard Florida – highlights the role of clustering, density, and diversity of the sort found in cities as key drivers of innovation. Dense urban areas are more productive. They are where highly skilled talent is drawn both to be around other talented people and to enjoy abundant amenities. They are the centers of the kinds social and industrial diversity needed to power creativity and innovation. They give rise to and facilitate the overlapping knowledge and professional networks through which knowledge and ideas spread. They are the places where people from diverse backgrounds can find one another and combine their talents. They are literally defined by their speed of connections and faster urban metabolisms. More than any other social or economic organism, cities are incubators for new ideas, new innovations and new enterprises. In a recent review of the broad literature on urbanism and innovation, economists Gerald Carlino and William Kerr write that: “three-quarters of the U.S. population resided in metropolitan areas. By contrast, 92 percent of patents were granted to residents of metropolitan areas, and virtually all VC investments were made into major cities.”

Revitalizing Detroit: Is There a Role for Immigration?

September 3, 2014 Comments off

Revitalizing Detroit: Is There a Role for Immigration?
Source: Migration Policy Institute

More than half a century after its peak as America’s fourth-largest city, Detroit has become a byword for the urban decline and economic decay that have plagued the cities of America’s industrial heartland. Without its former core industrial base, Detroit has had to look for new ways out of economic decline. Detroit and other cities like it face several key challenges in their progress toward recovery, including a shrinking and aging population, diminished city resources, and a lack of high-skilled human capital.

Immigration alone cannot save Detroit, as this report makes clear. But if carefully managed in the context of a broader economic development strategy, immigration may be a promising tool for boosting Detroit’s economic prospects. This report explores various immigration-related initiatives aimed at restarting economic growth that have been advanced by Detroit and Michigan leaders, the regional chamber of commerce, and civil society. However, it remains unclear how effective these efforts (and similar ones in other cities) will be. The same factors that have driven the native born from the city (such as unemployment, neighborhood blight, and poor municipal services) may keep immigrants away.

Detroit is not alone in its efforts. While a successful outcome is not guaranteed, these cities offer an interesting opportunity to observe what, if any, potential immigration has to boost economic redevelopment.

This report is part of a series from MPI’s Transatlantic Council on Migration focused on how policymakers at all levels can work together to help cities and regions get more out of immigration. The reports were commissioned for the Council’s eleventh plenary meeting, “Cities and Regions: Reaping Migration’s Local Dividends.”


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