Weekly Urban News Update
January 4, 2019
In This Update: 
The Perils of Smart City Technology in Kansas City
Blockchain and Urban Land Registry in India
In Manchester, Machine Learning Technology Predicts Gentrification Patterns
The Mumbai "Toxic Hell"
Community-Led Housing in Manchester
In the News and Around the Web
This Week in Photos
Smart City Technologies

The Perils of Smart City Technology in Kansas City
At The New York Times, Timothy Williams details some of the tensions between smart technology and unintended consequences in Kansas City. While Kansas City has become an "unexpected destination" for major tech companies, the results of smart city technologies there have been modest. Ben Green at Harvard University notes that the city did not open a competitive bidding process for the contracts awarded to Google, Cisco, and Sprint. This raises questions about how city partnerships with tech companies, while financially efficient in the short-term, may not be socially and economically beneficial to the city or its residents in the long-term.  Equally concerning is that city leadership may lack the expertise and foresight to best address the privacy, security, and the financial implications of smart technology. 

Read more  here .

Blockchain Technology and Urban Land Registry in India
As researchers Alexandru Oprunenco and Chami Akmeemana note, the word blockchain frequently "conjures up thoughts of cryptocurrencies, of people dabbling in a seemingly dark art, making tens of millions of dollars." But, Oprunenco and Akmeemana argue that blockchain can play a significant role in alleviating poverty, fighting corruption, and assisting marginalized populations in cities. New research conducted in the city of Panchkula demonstrates how blockchain land registry improves transparency, accuracy, and efficiency for municipal administration by facilitating buyer-seller transactions. Significantly, it also increases ordinary citizens' confidence in their government's ability to support their property and land rights.

Read more  here

In Manchester, Machine Learning Technology Predicts Gentrification Patterns
Municipal policymakers and urban researchers increasingly pose the question of how technology can solve social problems. At Kings College London, Jonathan Reades, Jordan De Souza, and Phil Hubbard asked if smart technology could predict patterns of gentrification in London. They employed "machine learning," an artificial intelligence technique that trains computers to measure household income, real estate values, occupational share, and job qualifications. CityLab's Richard Florida finds their conclusions compelling: the results showed that machine learning largely predicted gentrification patterns accurately, allowing policymakers to better understand past and future developments.

Read more  here
Housing Challenges and Solutions

The Mumbai "Toxic Hell"
In Mumbai, former slumdwellers are protesting what they describe as forced relocation to the heavily polluted neighborhood of Mahul. In 2017, the Mumbai municipal government relocated approximately 30,000-50,000 residents to Mahul, arguing that the illegal slums directly threatened the citizens of Mumbai, by their proximity vicinity to the Tansa water pipeline. Despite a recent court ruling that the government could not force former slumwellers to live in the heavily polluted neighborhood, city authorities have yet to find alternative housing or compensate Mahul residents. Large swathes of the neighborhood's population continue to suffer from asthma, skin diseases, and tuberculosis due to its proximity oil and petroleum refineries, chemical factories, and fertilizer plants.

Read more  here

Community-Led Housing in Manchester
Housing Futures: Community-Led Alternatives for Greater Manchester, a consortium of academics, housing sector professionals, and members of the cooperative and housing movement, is sharing their research on housing and urban development. The consortium wants to address homelessness and housing insecurity by  employing housing co-operatives, Scandinavian forms of co-housing, community land trusts, and self-help housing. The researchers argue their proposed framework will improve affordability, environmental sustainability, community-building and neighborhood revival, health, employability, and tenant satisfaction.

Read more  here
In the News and Around the Web
  • The Rise and Fall of China's Cycling Empires: At Foreign Policy, Frankie Huang explains the recent failed history of Chinese bike share programs.
  • Traffic Deaths Rise in Washington Despite City-Wide Campaign: In the fifth year of its Vision Zero campaign, traffic deaths in New York City dropped to a record low. But, despite its own Vision Zero, traffic fatalities rose in Washington, D.C. in 2018. The Washington Post editorial board urges the city to do better.
  • Singapore Digs Up Graves for Highways: In its quest for urban expansion, Singapore will exhume 4,000 graves to make room for an eight-lane highway.
This Week in Photos
  • Humanitarian Crisis, Conflict, and Aid in 2018: IRIN highlights the major humanitarian stories of 2018.
  • The Anatomy of a Smart City:  At Visual Capitalist, Jeff Desjardins employs a series of infographics to explain the problems global megacities face and to suggest technological solutions. 

Large numbers of shared bikes have been discarded in Xiamen, China. (Photocred: Foreign Policy )

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