New urbanism has been changing the design of communities for the past 30 years. Today, in many cities and communities, we are seeing more walkable neighborhoods, more orientation around public tran- sit systems, and a greater integration of varied land uses. This has fostered neighborliness, environmental sustainability, and economic prosperity, which have contributed to improved quality of life. Over the past decade, we’ve also seen the emergence of smart communi- ties, which use technology (such as the Internet of Things (IoT)) and data to better meet citizens’ needs and improve livability by enabling better governance, planning, and management. Increasingly, these new concepts are developed and implemented by “Plangineers”: planners and engineers who have combined orientations/backgrounds in plan- ning/design and engineering and who are now contributing to the next generation of community design. Human-Centric Design Approach At its heart, a city should be an extension of its inhabitants and its ecosystem. It is imperative to account for all ages and backgrounds as we explore a human-centric design approach. After all, an active 30-year-old does not have the same needs as a child or the elderly. In most cases, these populations are all represented within a city and we need to think about how to create opportunity and improved quality of life for all in a balanced way. In doing so, they will be most successful when they build upon a city’s environmental and ecological “DNA”. Examples in history show us that cities that have embraced their DNA have been most effective in creating diverse and lasting environments for their citizens and visitors. Amsterdam is a great example with a network of canals and integration of water into its urban fabric. The result is planning and design that is directly informed by the needs, de- sires, and habits of the specific community while addressing its unique combination of geography, culture, and socioeconomics. In working towards creating a higher quality of life for our communi- ties, it is imperative that we reach out to and include a wide cross- section of the community in the planning process. Open dialogue with residents, business owners, local workers and interested stakeholders helps to inform a range of options that may work within a specific area of the community. Real-time platforms, like social media, can be extremely helpful in collecting immediate feedback, while also shar- ing news and updates in a timely manner. We need to be nimble and flexible to adapt and refine proposed solutions based on the feedback received. Feedback can be solicited every step of the way –from the feasibility phase through final planning and design – and adjustments can be incorporated to build consensus throughout the implementation process. We also need to let time build the space of our cities: as they say “Rome wasn’t built in one day” either. If we don’t over-plan, we allow the city to evolve so it can reflect layer upon layer of changes over time, made by its citizens and guided by designers and planners. Planning for Smart Cities and New Urbanism By Niek Veraart and David Reel
Technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) Nearly everything will be changed by the continued dissemination of the IoT: offices, homes, vehicles, retail, infrastructure, and more. Tech- nology is revolutionizing how we live, work, and play, but technology cannot exist for its own sake. We’re creating urban design solutions that don’t purely rely on technology but rather incorporate it as part of our human-centric design approach. Some examples include smart parking meters that show available spots on an app to cut down on driving and recirculation time; congestion sensors to optimize or divert traffic; smart LED lamp posts that adjust to brightness and weather conditions; smart electricity grids that analyze energy consumption and deliver the optimal supply of electricity; waste sensors that detect garbage levels and maximize collection routes; structural sensors to monitor vibrations and building conditions, and the list of applications goes on. The deployment of IoT is already impacting land use and urban plan- ning. Urban dwellers have come to expect that certain amenities – such as parks, restaurants, grocery stores, banks, dry cleaners, pharmacies, post offices, etc. – should be easily found in their communities. Cit- ies can optimize their land use and ensure that all of these needs are met by taking datasets captured by IoT – like traffic trends, health outcomes, unit economics, and amenities scores – and use modeling to plan spaces that include these destinations while maximizing the quality of life for residents and visitors. Substantial public input has been sought throughout this project, which has elicited strong opinions from various communities. Numerous routes were studied for their topographic feasibility and connectivity to the locations and destinations that community members identified as ideal.
csengineermag.com april 2020
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