Urban Notebook

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Catalyzing Economic Success for Every Citizen

Realizing inclusive growth in our cities

How a focus on inclusion can build stronger communities and drive long-term economic health   READ MORE

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Four Ways Data Can Unlock Cities' Growth

Great Data; Great City

Even since the days of Athens and Sparta, cities have staked their claim to greatness. Kafka had Prague. Hemingway had Paris. The iconic New York poet Walt Whitman made his case to qualify a great city back in 1865. “A great city,” he wrote, “is that which has the greatest men and women.” In 2017 that quote might be effectively edited to include the greatest men and women and the greatest data. READ MORE

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Parag Khanna: Data-Cities Lead Economic Progress

Foreword 

As cities around the world are confronted with population growth and increasing demand for their legacy systems bold ideas are needed to propel the dialogue between governments, civil society and the private sector. Urban leaders in every corner of the globe are demonstrating how digital technologies and data analytics can help drive efficiencies and more seamless experiences. However, creating “smart” cities should not be viewed as an end in itself, rather it’s a means toward unlocking economic growth opportunities for cities, creating a better quality of life for citizens, and building more sustainable and resilient communities. READ MORE

Build, Baby, Build: A New Housing Movement’s Unofficial Motto

Local control, as I wrote in my last column, can sometimes backfire. America’s affordable housing crisis is a prime example. The sensible response to rapid population growth and inflated prices in our cities is to build more housing. But thanks to a “not in my backyard” mentality that is supported by a hyper-local planning model, existing residents are able to resist new construction that promotes density. 

To get around this obstacle, land use control has in some cases shifted from localities to states. But a top-down approach isn’t very democratic and, as a result, has helped spur a counter, grassroots movement of YIMBYs, or “yes in my backyard” supporters. READ MORE

A Low-Cost Solution to Traffic

Urbanites generally consider Austin the coolest city in Texas, if not America. It has a great university, great music, hip and trendy restaurants and bars, unique shops and a booming tech economy. It also has god-awful traffic for a city its size. 

Metro Austin has 2 million people. All of them seem to be driving on Interstate 35 all the time. Getting across town east-west is even worse because there’s really no main route. Bus service is just OK, and there’s only one light rail line. (Voters shot down an expansion of the rail system a couple of years ago.)  READ MORE