WBEZ: COVID-19 Is Changing The Way Some Planners Think About How To Design And Develop Cities

WBEZ: COVID-19 Is Changing The Way Some Planners Think About How To Design And Develop Cities. “Cities around the world want to reimagine how businesses rebound amid economic devastation and find a way for society to go car-free. Urbanism in the time of coronavirus is a hot Twitter topic among urbanists. For others, the elite nature of who cities serve could change with the pandemic, opening up conversations around equity, say some experts.”

Intelligent Transport: ITDP reveals new tools to improve transit inclusivity and city walkability

Intelligent Transport: ITDP reveals new tools to improve transit inclusivity and city walkability. “The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) has revealed Pedestrians First – a guide and set of online tools to aid urban planners and city officials in assessing inclusivity of their cities’ transit systems as well as the walkability of their neighbourhoods and streets. The guide includes walkability data for nearly 1,000 metropolitan areas around the world, which users can explore in an interactive map. ITDP says this is the first-ever worldwide analysis to measure walkability in cities globally.”

MIT Technology Review: AI planners in Minecraft could help machines design better cities

MIT Technology Review: AI planners in Minecraft could help machines design better cities. “The annual Generative Design in Minecraft (GDMC) competition asks participants to build an artificial intelligence that can generate realistic towns or villages in previously unseen locations. The contest is just for fun, for now, but the techniques explored by the various AI competitors are precursors of ones that real-world city planners could use.”

Digital Library of Georgia: Digitization of materials documenting the beginning of Peachtree City, Georgia are now available freely online

Digital Library of Georgia: Digitization of materials documenting the beginning of Peachtree City, Georgia are now available freely online. “New online records that describe the history of Peachtree City, Georgia, one of the country’s most successful post-World War II ‘new towns,’ are now available for researchers in the Digital Library of Georgia.”

Slate: Will COVID Push People Out of Cities for Good?

Slate: Will COVID Push People Out of Cities for Good?. “Since the coronavirus shutdowns began in March, everyone’s been wondering the same thing: Are city residents really leaving? And if so, are they ever coming back? Eager journalists have rushed to quote suburban real estate brokers—which is like asking Oscar Mayer if people like hot dogs. Local TV is following families out to greener pastures, and Instagram shows a never-ending stream of vacations. To find out how many people have really left, I consulted some experts on cities and suburbs: Emily Badger of the New York Times, Natalie Moore of WBEZ Chicago, and Amanda Kolson Hurley of Bloomberg Businessweek.”

The Next Web: Coronavirus has changed travel in European cities for good — here’s how

The Next Web: Coronavirus has changed travel in European cities for good — here’s how . “At a recent Cities Today Institute roundtable, cities across Europe told a consistent story – public transport ridership is down between 60 and 90 percent on pre-coronavirus levels and capacity is reduced due to social distancing, while private car usage is beginning to climb once again. With revenues from media, parking and other taxes also slashed, this is adding up to a perfect storm of looming congestion and decimated budgets.”

Coronavirus: How can we make post-pandemic cities smarter? (BBC)

BBC: Coronavirus: How can we make post-pandemic cities smarter?. “Streets have been eerily quiet in recent months as coronavirus lockdowns imposed by governments around the world hit the pause button on normal life. And while many people have missed the shops and cafes, many have also appreciated the temporary respite from noise, pollution and congestion. As cities start to wake up from the so-called anthropause, questions are being being asked about how we can improve them more permanently. And the assumptions we had about making our cities smart may also need a rethink.”

New Jersey Institute of Technology: AI Software Will Help Regional Planners Build Sidewalks Database

New Jersey Institute of Technology: AI Software Will Help Regional Planners Build Sidewalks Database. “Community and urban planners throughout North Jersey will soon have a thorough digital inventory of their sidewalks, based on a unique use of geospatial intelligence software led by Ying Wu College of Computing Associate Professor Xinyue Ye and his Ph.D. student Huan Ning, on behalf of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA). Planners can use such databases to help guide their decisions about where and how to invest in construction and infrastructure projects.”

AP: Google Affiliate Scraps Plan for Toronto Smart City Project

AP: Google Affiliate Scraps Plan for Toronto Smart City Project. “Google abandoned its smart-city development in Toronto…after more than two years of controversy over privacy concerns and amid economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic. A unit of Google’s parent company Alphabet had been proposing to turn a rundown part of Toronto’s waterfront into a wired community, but Sidewalk Labs chief executive Dan Doctoroff said in a statement that it is no longer financially viable.” This is somewhat old news — I am still catching up from my focusing more exclusively on coronavirus news — but I’m still shocked.

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: Google Street View Derived Built Environment Indicators and Associations with State-Level Obesity, Physical Activity, and Chronic Disease Mortality in the United States

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: Google Street View Derived Built Environment Indicators and Associations with State-Level Obesity, Physical Activity, and Chronic Disease Mortality in the United States. “We utilized 31,247,167 images collected from Google Street View to create indicators for neighborhood built environment characteristics using deep learning techniques. Adjusted linear regression models were used to estimate the associations between aggregated built environment indicators and state level health outcomes. Our results indicated that the presence of a crosswalk was associated with reductions in obesity and premature mortality. Visible wires were associated with increased obesity, decreased physical activity, and increases in premature mortality, diabetes mortality, and cardiovascular mortality (however, these results were not significant). Non-single family homes were associated with decreased diabetes and premature mortality, as well as increased physical activity and park and recreational access. Single-lane roads were associated with increased obesity and decreased park access.”

Pop-up bike lanes and grassroots playgrounds: How COVID-19 will change cities (Phys .org)

Phys .org: Pop-up bike lanes and grassroots playgrounds: How COVID-19 will change cities. “Kottbusser Damm is just one of more than a dozen streets in Berlin where authorities have installed ‘pop-up bike lanes’—or ‘corona bike lanes,’ as locals are already calling them—in the last two weeks. The idea is to give pedestrians and cyclists a way to commute and exercise safely from both cars and possible infection by SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Berlin’s far from alone. Other German cities, including Stuttgart and Essen, are setting aside space for cyclists too. In Milan, city officials announced that 22 miles of streets in the city center will be re-engineered to make them safer for cyclists and pedestrians as restrictions on movement start to lift. And in Brussels, authorities are moving quickly to transform 25 miles of car lanes into bike lanes.”

EurekAlert: Expansion of world’s cities creating ‘new ecological niches’ for infectious diseases

EurekAlert: Expansion of world’s cities creating ‘new ecological niches’ for infectious diseases. “An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Lincoln, UK, and York University, Canada, investigated how the global trend towards urbanisation has contributed to the rise in the total number of disease outbreaks per decade since the 1980s. Their study, a major literature review published in the academic journal Urban Studies, shows that urban expansion at the periphery of cities – sometimes called ‘extended urbanisation’- is fundamentally altering the spatial relationships which shape how millions of people live and interact with each other and with nature. In doing so, it is creating ‘new ecological niches’ for the spread of infectious diseases, the researchers warn.”

Next City: How Fear of Cities Can Blind Us From Solutions to COVID-19

Next City: How Fear of Cities Can Blind Us From Solutions to COVID-19. “There are three natural enemies of urbanism: crime, terrorism, and pandemics. In the 1970s and 1980s, crime seemed like an existential threat to American cities. In the 2000s, it was terrorism. And today it’s pandemics, as COVID-19 sweeps across the country’s dense urban areas. For many, all three cases provoke a fear of cities, especially the dense clustering of diverse populations. This fear can prevent decision-makers from understanding and implementing solutions to those problems.”

Engadget: Toronto rejects some of Sidewalk Labs’ smart neighborhood ideas

Engadget: Toronto rejects some of Sidewalk Labs’ smart neighborhood ideas. “Sidewalk Labs will have to cede a little more ground on its vision for Quayside, a planned smart neighborhood in Toronto. The company, which is owned by Google-parent Alphabet, published a draft version of its Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP) last June.”