Weekly Urban News Update
October 16, 2020
In This Update
In Cities, Food Abundance Does Not Guarantee Food Security
Gurugram, India as an Example of How Not to Build a City
In New Delhi, Fall Pollution and COVID Twin Peaks Collide
Ontario Turns to Artificial Intelligence to Predict Chronic Homelessness
The Risks of Unplanned Housing in Urban Bangladesh
Controversial Barriers in Venice Protect City from Damaging Floods
In the News And Around the Web
In Cities, Food Abundance Does Not Guarantee Food Security
Urban dwellers are often seen as more food secure than their rural counterparts because food in cities is more plentiful, writes Marie Ruel at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But, abundance of food does not mean equal access to nutritious foods and healthy diets. Instead, income and food affordability, time scarcity and physical constraints, and lack of access to social protections lead urban poor to opt for ready-to-eat, cheap, ultra-processed foods which result in matching levels of malnutrition as rural areas. Indeed, research shows that in both urban and rural India, 40% of children experience stunting while 21% of adults in urban areas and 15% in rural areas are obese.

Read more here.
Gurugram, India as a Model of How Not to Build a City
The Indian city of Gurugram is an apt example of how not to build a new city, writes Manavi Kapur at Quartz India. Gurugram, a tech and finance center on the outskirts of New Delhi, sprang up in the mid-1990s as developers began to construct quality high-rise apartments and shopping malls, which stood in contrast to Delhi’s low-rise housing and commercial buildings. But, Kapur explains, there was no master plan for the city, so development proceeded haphazardly and independently by developers, leading to poor infrastructure, segregated housing, unreliable transportation, and hidden slums that, while never a policy focus, house thousands of blue collar workers essential to the city’s operation.

Read more here.
In New Delhi, Fall Pollution and COVID-19 Twin Peaks Collide
In India, New Delhi faces duel health challenges as COVID-19 and fall pollution collide. New Delhi has some of the highest levels of particulate matter in the world and its air quality worsens further every fall due to air temperatures, wind speeds, and crop burning by farmers in surrounding areas. This fall, the increased pollutants will coincide with India's COVID-19 outbreak which has seen over 7 million reported cases so far. The combination of a respiratory virus and respiratory contaminants may be deadly for residents. One doctor observed: “Pollution-afflicted areas will have a higher incidence of Covid. And once this population gets Covid, they then have a higher chance of mortality.”

Read more here.
Ontario Turns to Artificial Intelligence to Predict Chronic Homelessness
The city of London in Ontario, Canada is using artificial intelligence to predict an individual's risk of chronic homelessness. The Chronic Homeless Artificial Intelligence (CHAI) model runs individual data such as age, race, gender, military status, kind of city services accessed, and how often they sleep in shelter. For instance, the model predicts that a single male older than 52 without local family, who has previously stayed in shelters, and is a veteran or indigenous person is at high risk for chronic homelessness. The city believes that CHAI will help it prioritize how it works with individuals to get them to safe housing or access to health services.  

Read more here.
The Risks of Unplanned Housing in Urban Bangladesh
In urban Bangladesh, limited affordable housing has popularized private co-operative housing for low- and middle-income residents in which they jointly purchase apartments or construction plots. But, Mohammad Rezaul Karim at URBANET explains that limited financial means can encourage residents to also act as planners, designers, architects, and buyers, which compromises building safety and leads to frequent fires and building collapses. Karim urges the government to enforce safety procedures and decentralize administration to empower local government to ensure sufficient living spaces and urges housing societies to follow green city concepts and ensure sufficient funds before development.

Read more here.
Controversial Barriers in Venice Protect City from Damaging Floods
In Venice, controversial flood barriers protected the city from potentially damaging flooding this week. On Thursday, the city activated its 78 mobile barriers, when it was reported tides could reach nearly 4.5 feet, a level which could flood half the city. The barriers were designed in 1984 and supposed to begin service in 2011, but corruption and cost led to delays until this year, following a flood last November which killed 2 and caused 1 billion euros in damage. But, critics say that the project, which includes the construction of an artificial island to house technical operation of the gates, has altered the lagoon, allowing seawater to enter more quickly, and increasing susceptibility to flooding.

Read more here.
In the News and Around the Web

  • Sustainability Guides Helsinki Development: New housing communities must also integrate features that save residents an hour of time each day.

  • Beirut Rebuilds: While some residents feel unready to return to the city following a deadly explosion in August, others are moving back in and repairing damage.


  • Call for Applications: The National Association of Home Builders is searching for innovative and sustainable projects for its International Home of the Year. Applications are due October 29th.

  • IHC Global Technical Advisor Blair Ruble Authors New Publication: IHC Global Senior Technical Advisor Blair Ruble authored a new publication on: "Portraying the Soul of a People: African Americans Confront Wilson's Legacy from Washington State."
Pictured: The new Kalasatama neighborhood in Helsinki, Finland
(Photo Credit: Eetu Ahanen/The New York Times)
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