Latest News

Seoul ‘Skygarden’ to replace unsightly overpass

Seoul is poised to remake a decades-old overpass into an elevated green oasis. Francesca Street reports for CNN that the Seoul Skygarden would extend almost a kilometer and feature hundreds of trees, shrubs, flowers and other vegetation. The urban walkway, inspired by New York’s famed High Line, is being designed by Dutch architect Winy Maas. Other amenities would include performance space, cafes, marketplaces and greenhouses, the network says. The planned walkway is part of a wider effort by the municipal government…

Elevated bus would cruise over China’s urban traffic

The future of urban transport in China’s traffic-clogged cities might be a gigantic elevated bus that resembles an alien spaceship. David Roberts reports for Vox that a prototype of a Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) capable of straddling traffic was recently tested in the northeast city of Qinhuangdao in Hebei province. “The idea is to lift buses up above traffic so they are not slowed by it and don’t make it worse,” Roberts writes. The electric-powered…

East African cities urged to embrace ‘low-carbon’ options

East Africa is home to some of the planet’s fastest-growing cities, with urban populations expanding by more than four percent annually. The Conversation reports that this impoverished region could reduce both emissions and energy costs with “low-carbon” development. Kampala, Kigali, Dar es Salaam and South Sudan’s capital, Juba, are among the cities that might benefit from the strategy, the article says. Rooftop solar panels, improved energy efficiency for buildings and electric-powered bikes are among the…

Featured Stories

Dakar street vendors aided by West Africa’s first municipal bond

The first municipal bond ever issued in West Africa will help Dakar’s humblest entrepreneurs: street vendors.  Omar Siddique, senior urban specialist for the Cities Alliance, writes that the seven-year, $40 million bond will relocate a hodgepodge of city markets to a central marketplace. The facility would provide better commercial space for 3,000 vendors and help…

Citiscope.org Launches with Stories on Urban Innovation

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Announcing the official launch of a nonprofit news venture with a critical mission: coverage of urban innovation around the globe. Citiscope explores “how cities are inventing new ways to cope with such challenges as climate change, poverty, congestion and environmental quality,” the site explains here.

Blog Argues Against Replacing Urban Highways

Interesting essay in the Firefly Living blog argues that cities should not build new highways to replace crumbling ones that had to be torn down. Firefly Living is a real estate firm that emphasizes sustainable housing that “leaves a light environmental footprint.”

Food Recovery Network a Delicious Idea

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ideas. That’s the case with the Food Recovery Network, which collects leftovers from restaurants and campuses that are destined for trash dumpsters and distributes this perfectly edible cuisine to the homeless and needy.

Public Policy

Mayoral decisions pivotal to climate change–report

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With high-stakes climate talks underway in Paris, a new report says that decisions by city leaders over the next five years could determine the course of climate change. The report, Climate Action in Megacities 3.0, was published by C40 Cities and Arup. The study provides a broad overview of municipal-level responses to warming temperatures, heatwaves,…

Smart Growth Advocates Brief U.S. Congress

National Complete Streets Coaliton and Environmental and Energy Study Institute briefed U.S. congressional members and staff Thursday on the group’s proposals for federally funded roadways that are designed to be safer for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, the disabled and elderly, and reduce dependence on fossil fuel while promoting low-emission alternatives, such as intercity rail systems. National Complete Streets Federal…

Research & Reports

Frost & Sullivan: $3.3 Trillion Market Potential for Smart Cities by 2025

Here’s a fresh reminder that smart cities are big business. According to new analysis released today, Frost & Sullivan forecasts that the market potential for smart cities (i.e., “infrastructure development, technology integration, and e-government, energy and security services”) could reach $3.3 trillion — that’s TRILLION with a “T” — by 2025. The research firm will hold a web conference…

WHO: 70% of Humanity to Live in Cities by 2050

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With the majority of the world’s humanity now living in cities, the urban population is set to rise sharply in coming decades, estimates the World Health Organization. The WHO predicts that 60 percent of humanity will live in cities by 2030, with the figure increasing to 70 percent by 2050. One hundred years ago, the WHO says,…

Cityscape

Joburg’s month-long car-free experiment

Across the globe, many cities close streets to traffic each week to encourage physical activity. UrbanAfrica.net reports that in Johannesburg, an entire neighborhood went car-free—for all of October. The road closures were part of the EcoMobility Festival being held in the Sandton section of Joburg from Oct. 1 to 31. The goal of the auto-free…

La Paz debuts world’s longest urban cable car network

Mountainous La Paz has introduced an urban cable car system that’s set to become the longest in the world when complete in May. According to the Guardian, the $234 million network will cover nearly 11 kilometers (6.8 miles). The system, comprise of three gondola lines, is projected to carry 180,000 passengers an hour. For residents…

Dubai as a smart city?

Dubai is lavish, daring and full of bravado. In other words, it’s the antithesis of what a smart city aims to be. But lately, the message coming from the UAE is that this bastion of architectural excess aspires to be the next smart metropolis.

Bike Share Kiosks Coming to Five Vietnamese Cities

The Saigoneer reports that bike-share programs are set to launch in five cities in Vietnam beginning in 2015. As anyone who’s traveled to Vietnam knows, people there love motorbikes—so a switch to clean pedal power is a logical step that could do wonders for improving air quality. According to the article, Ho Chi Minh’s District 1, home to…

From Toxic to Trendy: The Evolution of the Gowanus Canal

Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal has long been known as one of New York City’s most polluted waterways. It’s so toxic, that the EPA declared it a Superfund cleanup site. But according to the New York Post, the canal and its surrounding neighborhood are undergoing a remarkable transformation. As the canal gets cleaned up, developers are seizing the opportunity…

Meet the New, Eco-Friendly Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is about much more than Mormons and mountains. According to Smart Growth America, Mayor Ralph Becker is transforming the city into a “prosperous urban center” that emphasizes “accessibility, sustainability and livability.” Light rail, rapid bus transit, bike share and a plan to make all city government buildings “net zero” emission facilities are…

Global News Roundup

Bloomberg on the importance of cities as labs

The best urban laboratories are cities themselves, says former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In a wide-ranging interview, Bloomberg emphasizes the importance of knowledge sharing among cities about crime, pollution control and energy efficiency and other issues. “Finding solutions to these problems in one city will enable us to test them in other cities that…

Oz Goes Green with 202020 Vision

Don’t overlook Australia when it comes to green initiatives. Under its 202020 Vision, Oz plans to expand its green urban space 20 percent by 2020. Parks, orchards and bike paths are among the new amenities. The project is spearheaded by the Australian government, academia and private sector, according to Australia’s Architecture & Design. As part of the…

Car-Free Cities a Pipe Dream? They’re Already Here . . .

Banning automobiles from cities may sound like one of those utopian ideas that never actually gets implemented, but it turns out that in Germany there is such a place. Vauban, a former military area in southern Freiburg, was transformed in the early 1990s into an environmental district that bans cars from the city center.

Vietnam’s Sea of Motorbikes to Face Stricter Emissions Standards

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To a first-time visitor to Vietnam, the flood of motorbikes on the roads is overwhelming. In most countries, the majority of vehicles have four wheels, and there’s a smattering of motorcycles. In Vietnam, it’s flipped around — the roads are jammed mostly with motorcycles and scooters, and the Vietnamese are very inventive about carrying huge objects on motorbikes that wouldn’t…

Hop Aboard the eBus: Hong Kong Debuts ‘Electronic Bus’ as Diesel Alternative

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Hong Kong is pursuing a clean alternative to the iconic diesel-powered double-decker buses responsible for much of the city’s pollution and persistent smog: battery power. On Sept. 9, the city debuted its first battery-power electronic bus, or eBus, under a comprehensive “Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong” strategy unveiled in March that culminates with region-wide emissions…

Urban Tech

Pop-Up City on Printable Solar Cells for the Masses

We usually think of solar power in terms of large, clunky, expensive panels that require expert installation. But what if solar cells were tiny and could be manufactured with a special printer? Could that make solar power accessible to the masses? The Pop-Up City reports that researchers in Australia are making progress on wafer-thin, cheap photovoltaic cells…

Atlantic Cities: NYC May Transform Payphones into EV Chargers

According to The Atlantic Cities, New York City is exploring a cutting-edge use for the decrepid payphone booths that remain on street corners: transform them into quick-charging stations for electric vehicles. The idea was one of several to emerge from a contest that NYC held to find new uses for payphones that succumbed to smart phones. Eric…

‘Internet of Things’ Could Revolutionize Urban Design

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The Internet of Things is not just about turning off the oven remotely after you’ve left home, or setting your fridge to automatically order milk when the carton is near empty. According to National Geographic, this coming technology wave has vast implications for cities: “In a push toward adoption of this technology, Songdo in South Korea aims to become…

New York Announces $30 Mil. Hub for Smart Cities Technology

As more cities and towns pursue smart-growth strategies, New York state is positioning itself to become a leader in urban innovation. A $30 million hub for research, education and training about smart cities technology is planned for a historic building in downtown Albany, New York’s capital. The announcement comes amid fresh predictions that the global marketplace for smart cities could…

Architecture / Design

France’s Europa City Pushes Urban Design Limits

Europa City, a planned development outside Paris in Triangle de Gonesse, seeks to meld a dense urban environment with a lush, green landscape. The result is a Starship Enterprise-like design that could easily double as a sci-fi set and bears little resemblance to a typical city. A central artery will accommodate bikes and electric-powered people movers. Other features…

NPR Creates DC Buzz with Green Roof, Apiary

The Washington City Paper has the lowdown on National Public Radio’s new environmentally friendly headquarters in DC. — a LEED Gold certification building that features a plant-laden “green roof” that helps cool the structure and an apiary, or beehive, that is the network’s way of combatting colony collapse disorder. Here’s how NPR describes the new state-of-the-art headquarters: “NPR at 1111 North Capitol Street…

Amazon Proposes Dome-Shaped Greenhouses for Seattle Campus

Amazon has proposed to construct three enormous, intersecting dome-shaped greenhouses at its planned 3-block campus in Seattle — now under construction — that would be a mash-up of office space, dining and retail, according to The Verge and Seattle area newspapers. The Verge: Amazon Planning Giant Greenhouse Offices Pugest Sound Business Journal: Amazon Changes Building Design from Boxy to Spherical…

Santander’s Digital Nervous System of 12K Sensors

Spain’s most high-tech city boasts 12,000 electronic sensors attached to buses, power lines and dumpsters that cost $11.1 million to implement, according to an article in Bloomberg Businessweek. “This digital nervous system puts the city of 180,000 at the forefront of one of the hottest trends in urban management: streaming real-time data to the public in an…