Weekly Urban News Update
April 5, 2019
In This Update: 
The Use of Facial Recognition Technology in Low-Income Apartments Alarms Tenants
Floating City Concept is Introduced at the UN
In Hong Kong, Single Women Play a Key Role in Gentrification
Rockefeller Foundation Disbands 100 Resilient Cities Network
Cycling Across the Physical and Social Remnants of Apartheid
UN-Habitat and Egypt Co-Host Smart Cities Conference
Smart City Just City: In Baltimore, It's Not Just About the Tech
IHC Global Mourns the Passing of Emeritus Board Chairman Peter Kimm
In the News and Around the Web
The Use of Facial Recognition in Low-Income Apartments Alarms Tenants
In Brooklyn, the landlord of the Atlantic Plaza Towers apartment has installed facial recognition technology to replace the key-fob system of building access, alarming its tenants. For one, facial recognition technology is inconsistently accurate. A recent MIT and Stanford study revealed that whereas the technology inaccurately recognized light-skinned men less than 1 % of the time, it failed to identify darker-skinned women 1/3 of the time. Residents are also apprehensive about the disparity between the employment of advanced technology and their often otherwise low-tech and disadvantaged housing. At a recent tenants meeting, some residents wondered whether these changes were "not intended for them, but rather for new types of residents to come when certain apartments became eligible for market-rate rents."

Read more here.
Floating City Concept is Introduced at the UN
Once a "moonshot vision of tech billionaires and idealist architects," the concept of floating cities now resonates with INGOs and urban planners. On Wednesday, architect Bjark Ingels and the company Oceanix introduced their floating city design to a positive reception by a United Nations roundtable. UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif numbered among the attendees. She pledged UN support to the project, which promises to address both climate change and the lack of affordable housing in major cities. Some of the floating city's core features include ocean farming and the exclusion of high rises and high emission cars and trucks.

Read more here.
In Hong Kong, Single Women Play a Key Role in Gentrification
Michigan State University researchers Igor Vojnovic and Minting Ye have discovered a surprising and understudied urban development phenomenon: single women have played a significant role in the gentrification of Hong Kong over the past three decades. Vojnovic and Ye argue that changing attitudes about women and their place in society correlates to increasingly unaffordable housing. Specifically, women in Hong Kong are marrying later and attaining higher paid jobs, which boosts demand for housing. The scholars suggest their research may have wider implications as well. The increase in the number of single women with high-paying jobs who marry later is a common trend around the world. This could mean women may significantly influence the real estate market of major cities like New York, London, Vancouver, and Singapore.

Read more here.
Rockefeller Foundation Disbands Resilient Cities Network
Rockefeller Foundation has disbanded its 100 Resilient Cities network. The program offered financial backing that enabled more than 80 cities to hire chief resilience officers and develop action plans. Successful programs included improving waste management in Jakarta and protecting Bangkok riverside communities from flooding. According to the Foundation, their mission has expanded beyond cities and will now focus on strengthening societal resilience more broadly. The shift in program mission will also mean the release of 86 employees from 100RC's four offices in New York, London, Singapore, and Mexico City.

Read more here.
Cycling Across Crossing the Physical and Social Remnants of Apartheid
South African apartheid ended over 25 years ago, yet the legacy of apartheid-era urban planning is evident stark racially-divided towns and cities. In Vosloorus, youth like Lesego Konupi are changing that through a cycling collective that encourages youth to cross the physical and social boundaries in neighborhoods and towns still effected by apartheid-era urban planning. The program has been well-received, but some urban planners, like Susan Monyai at the Johannesburg Development Agency, believe this can only supplement much-needed government-led initiatives, such as mixed-income housing and improved mobility and public transport.  Regardless of its wide-scale impact, the collective's founders are optimistic. Konupi says of riding: "People stand in the streets at night and cheer for us. Street children, sex workers, students, everyone. We feel free."

Read more here.
UN-Habitat and Egypt Co-Host Smart Cities Conference
Last week, UN-Habitat Egypt and the Egyptian Ministry of Housing, Utilities, and Urban Communities hosted a two-day smart cities conference. "Theory and Application - Towards and Egyptian Smart Cities Code" brought together over 120 experts to discuss the use of smart technology for urban development in tracks such as infrastructure, economy, energy, mobility, and governance. The conference will contribute to the publication of a White Paper designed to develop and shape smart cities to better integrate the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda. This White Paper will emulate one of the key conference themes: "In order to be smart, cities need to be sustainable and inclusive."

Read more here.
Smart City Just City: In Baltimore, It's Not Just About the Tech
This week, IHC Global featured guest blogger Shonte Eldridge for its Smart City Just City blog series. Eldridge, Deputy Chief of Operations for the City of Baltimore, highlights strategies and techniques key to Baltimore's Smart City approach to community engagement. The emphasis on community and engagement and participation means Baltimore takes the voices of its residents, including women, seriously as it promotes equitability, inclusion, and economic dynamism through smart technology.

Read Eldridge's insights and more about Baltimore's Smart City efforts here.
IHC Global Mourns the Passing of Emeritus Board Chairman Peter Kimm
IHC Global mourns the passing of Emeritus Board Chairman Peter Kimm who passed away peacefully at his home on March 30th. Kimm was a critical force for housing, urban development, and real estate markets both in the United States and abroad. He spent much of his 36 year career  at USAID, as the Director of Housing and Urban Programs. He played a key role at IHC Global through his foundational support of IHC Global's two predecessor organizations, the International Housing Coalition and the International Real Property Foundation. Kimm was IHC's Founding Member and Chair and then IHC Global's Chairman Emeritus. Similarly, he was also  instrumental in the USAID funding and support of the then Eastern European Real Property Foundation in the 1990s, which evolved into the IRPF. 
In the News and Around the Web
  • Cities Turn their Lights off For Earth : A Time Magazine video shows how major cities like Tapei, Paris, and Warsaw observed Earth Hour on March 30th. 
  • Controversial Regeneration Programs in the Uzbekistan Capital : In Tashkent, forced evictions and housing demolitions have triggered mass protests. 
     
  • China in Photos: These Chinese cities are running out of resources.
  • Ugandan Man Becomes Lawyer to Win Family Land Back: Land and property rights disputes effect both Ugandan men and women across the urban-rural continuum. Lawyer Jordan Kinyera's struggle to win back his family's land illuminates these tensions. 

A concept image of a floating city presented at a UN round table.
(Photo credit: Business Insider)

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