Posts Tagged ‘urban planning’

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Together Through Tech

In the past, whenever I would think about technology and the future of this country or even the world, I couldn’t help but worry. It seemed as though the world was full of educated individuals who were creating technology that reduces the need for humans to perform labor, think and be social. That didn’t sound bad until I realized no one was talking to one another outside of some sort of social media or gadget. Then I thought about all of the shortcuts technology provides for just about everything, whether it’s information gathering or figuring out how to get around in your car without actually driving. I thought we were only educating ourselves to 1) wear the “Educational Debt” Badge of Honor and Struggle, and/or 2) to be able to sit back and do nothing, possibly eliminating the need for the badge all together. Essentially humans were trading their human uniqueness, value and autonomy for automation and comfort.

But as I revisit the topic, I have a change of heart: maybe technology is bringing us together and empowering us. Maybe it gives us more power and control in the exchange of information and knowledge; maybe it enables community members to control of how their environment looks and operates. Maybe technology reestablishes old values, such as transparency with those we elect to represent us.

CHBlogPicThink about Smart Cities: in essence, smart cities create a quality of life by using information and communicative technologies to excel in economic development, mobility, environmental justice, safety, and health.  As technology expands to include a variety of accessible data, even those without a 4-year college degree are able to create technology that addresses those areas and link strangers in communities (i.e., Bluetooth, wireless sensors and tech, hybrid cars, Uber Eats, Fitbit, Google Earth, Snapchat). City officials have better access to a wide variety of data and analytical tools, which allows them to better understand and plan for their constituents to address urban problems. Essentially, Smart Cities are gathering so much data and information from technology that answers to various urban problems are available at the click of a dataset.

What’s even better, we, as their constituents, have access to most of the same data and technology. Developments by techies such as search engines, advanced sensors, smart phone apps and even the ability to store information has allowed us the chance to educate ourselves and demand a seat at elected decision makers’ tables to provide relevant information and feedback on the effectiveness of systems and polices. It even provides the option to provide solutions to our own problems rather than rely on decision makers. And of course, the same data and technology has resurfaced an old but overlooked value: transparency in government. Since today’s tech makes workings of the government more accessible to the public, it’s more difficult for our elected leaders to abuse their power. In other words, WE hold the power, thanks to our tech!

It’s easy to fall into the “oh this generation is this and that” mode and blame all of society’s negative traits on technology. But thanks to humans’ dependency on technology, we are gaining more value and power, and are transforming cities and their structure to a more bottom-up system rather than a top down. I believe that cities accepting the digital transformation of society are generally becoming more socially connected and equitable environments where people thrive. “We, the People” are not reduced to our utility; we are more powerful and are a necessity if cities are to bring about any significant, lasting change or improvements through technology. So, I retract my past conclusions that technology will assassinate the value of the human and that education will only create an educated class of lazy individuals; technology will open the door for both the educated and uneducated to work together to design efficient, safe, healthy and people-centered communities.

Christie Holland is an aspiring planner at the University of Texas-Arlington, with a passion in building social equity and transportation planning. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling to new cities and experiencing other cultures and traditions.

Equitable Water

Realizing An Equitable Water Future

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to participate as a Peer Reviewer for the US Water Alliance’s report, An Equitable Water Future. The conversation amongst peers was rich, thoughtful and engaging and I am proud of the outcome of the report which explores the impacts of water management on disadvantaged communities, and the opportunities to build more equitable water systems. This is the most comprehensive briefing paper to date on the interconnections between water management and equity. The report identifies the ways in which water issues like affordability and aging infrastructure disproportionately impact vulnerable communities, and highlights the potential to leverage water systems to bring about greater opportunity for all. Through over 100 examples and in-depth case studies, the report spotlights the promising work being done around the country to ensure that all people have access to safe, clean water; benefit from water infrastructure investments; and are resilient in the face of a changing climate.

An Equitable Water Future provides a framework for all stakeholders to understand their role in making our water systems more inclusive. We hope that you will share the report with your networks! The full paper is available online here.

Take a read and let me know what you think.

Chanceé Lundy Russell is the Co-Founder of Nspiregreen LLC an environmental consulting, urban planning and public engagement firm based in Washington, DC. The Selma, Alabama native received her BS in Environmental Science from Alabama A&M University and her MS in Civil Engineering from Florida State University. She is passionate about environmental justice issues and works to create healthy, livable communities for all.

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Interesting Rail Fact in Chongqing, China

For those who don’t know, I had my undergraduate studies at a mountainous city called Chongqing. It is one of the municipalities city in China (Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing), meaning the city is directly controlled by the Chinese government. Metro Chongqing has a large population of 18.4 million people.[i] Chongqing is located at the Midwest of China, four major parallel mountains across the whole province, and 2 major rivers (Yangtze River and Jialing River) run through the area.

Above is just a little background of Chongqing, the city’s topography is a typical mountainous city in China. Like other metropolitans, Chongqing has many modern skyscraper, and modern public transportation is convenient to get around each of the districts. Monorail is one of the most used way to get around in the city. Remember that the city is built on the mountainous topography, which means the rail can’t always run underground, it kind of look like the trains run from tunnel to tunnel.

 

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City Skyline

(Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/39/SkylineOfChongqing.jpg/842px-SkylineOfChongqing.jpg)

I would like to share some interesting stories when I lived in this city.

  1. Underground construction going on everywhere. Our campus in located in the middle of downtown. Same as regular campus, we have football field, library and classroom buildings. Regardless what’s on the surface, the underground level is all retails stores. Basically, the whole underground of the campus was under construction. The first year when I was there, my classmates and I could hear the “bomb” sounds when they were building the underground railway.
  2. The only flat area in this city is used for the airport.

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The Picture above shows the typical traditional mountainous building in Chongqing (Daytime view)

(Source: http://www.chineescapade.com/Admin_Manager/uponepic/guide-touristique/images/20141/ancienne-Chongqing-article.jpg)

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The complicated topography makes the night view really stunning. (Night time view)

(Source: http://www.echinacities.com/userfiles/2010-Year/10-Month/9-Day/image004(2).jpg)

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(Source: http://travel.chinesecio.com/en/image/attachement/jpg/site3/20091010/00235aa6948a0c3a34081b.jpg)

         3. The only flat area in this city is used for the airport.

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Staircase everywhere (Apple store plaza)

(Source: http://cdn.iphonehacks.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/apple-jiefangbei-store.jpg)

        4. When you get off the monorail, you will be surprised to find that you are at the 8th floor.

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Highest overpass between buildings

(Source: https://i2.wp.com/china-underground.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Highest_overpass.jpg?fit=1000%2C750)

        5. The most astonishing fact is that the rail goes through core of residential flats in the middle.  

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(Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/content/dam/news/2017/03/20/JS123737351_Visual-China-Group_Light-Railway-Passes-Through-Residential-Building-In-Chongqing-large_trans_NvBQzQNjv4Bqr1-IQesdsNm9WbsCncdC0h-6hHT5d1My5NPMLxxGU0U.jpg)

        6. Complicated transportation.

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(Source: http://icaa15.cqu.edu.cn/common/images/night_view2.jpg)

The city still charming to me, it is so special. I love Chongqing, includes the scenery, the people and the Sichuan cuisine.

[i] http://countrydigest.org/chongqing-population/

 

Mei Fang, is an urban planner with a strong passion in urban and landscape design, she also enjoy looking for the variety culture inside of the city.





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