Chris Steins's blog

Chris Steins is co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of Planetizen.

Questions About Conservation Software

In recent years, many large conservation plans -- including the plan that led Australia to ban fishing on a third of the Great Barrier Reef -- were produced using a computer program called Marxan.

Marxan imageSoftware developer and Australian professor Hugh P. Possingham is now raising questions about the validity of the software in certain circumstances, Second Thoughts for a Designer of Software That Aids Conservation

Urban Markup Language / Street Graffiti

So we've all seen those spray-painted marks on the street -- usually they have a line, arrow and say "USA". As a planner, I've always had this nagging sense that I should know what they are.

Some brilliant editor at Wired apparently decided that it was time to figure it all out. A one-page feature, Urban Markup Language, (Brilliant play on words) in the September, 2004 issue of Wired Magazine offers nine images of the most common forms of the graffiti, along with descriptions of what they mean.

Dealing In Data

Governing Magazine has a special report on "E-Governing" in their September, 2004 issue, Dealing in Data.

This is certainly true,

"Governments have been trying to break down the silos of data that have been built up agency by agency, government by government."


But I wonder about this evaluation, which seems to be the foundation for most of the article:

"There is one basic prerequisite that has to be met before any data merging can take place. Government agencies have to take the information that lives on paper and convert it into digitized form. "

Project Gutenberg

Project GutenbergFor those Tech Talk readers who have not yet heard about Project Gutenberg, this is an amazing project that defines the future of the Internet.

Project Gutenberg is the first and largest single collection of free electronic books. They have published over 12,000 eBooks through the collective efforts of hundreds of volunteers. The Magna Carta was the project's 10,000 e-book, published in October, 2003.

The Price of Non Interoperability: $15.8 Billion per Year

AEC Cost Grid The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) commissioned a study to estimate the efficiency losses resulting from inadequate interoperability among computer-aided design, engineering, and software systems in the U.S. capital facilities industry (In 2002, the nation set in place $374 billion in new construction on capital facilities (U.S. Census Bureau, 2004b)).

Now there's apparently a precise measure of the waste caused by fragmentation of IT systems.

Nation's First City-Wide WiFi Network Completed

Although Zamora, Spain was the first city in the world to implement a true city-wide WiFI network, it appears that Grand Haven, Michigan has become the first city in the United States to implement a city-wide WiFi broadband network.

From the press release:

"As the first WiFi city in America, Grand Haven has truly lived up to its name in the Internet era, as we now allow anyone anywhere to connect to the Internet and roam the city and waterways in a completely secure computing environment," Mayor Bergman said. "The city-wide WiFi service provided by Ottawa Wireless is already enhancing the quality of life for residents and tourists and enabling the city to provide new services."

The Anti-Sprawl Smart Car

Where can I buy one?

GM Anti-Sprawl Concept Car Bill Mitchell's Smart Cities group at the MIT's Media Lab has joined forces with architect Frank Gehry and General Motors to design and build a concept car that attempts to tackle urban sprawl.

The article is reported in this week's AutoWeek magazine "M.I.T. lab searches for intelligent life in the fast lane"

Territory Maps of Gangs in Los Angeles

On the subject of interesting uses for Geographic Information Systems (GIS), I ran across this fascinating site, Maps and Territories of Gangs in Los Angeles County, while doing some background reading for a new course I'll be teaching at USC on technology and planning.

Territory MapThe author, Alex Alonso, who is himself apparently a PhD candidate in USC's Geography department

Islands of Automation

Why should architects, planners, and developers be concerned about software interoperability and open standards for data exchange? Communication and the exchange of data between partners in a development project is crucial to the success of the project. Anyone who has been involved in a construction project before knows how many opportunities exist to mis-interpret even the smallest detail on a plan.

Architect Jonathan Cohen concludes in Islands of Automation

CORE.GOV Sure Sounds Cool

David Flether's Government and Technology Weblog frequently makes for great reading. Today he discusses CORE.GOV - Component Organization and Registration Environment.

CORE.gov uses the CollabNet SourceCast tool for sharing and tracking business and technical components available as part of the Federal Enterprise Architecture.

Now I'm not sure I entirely understand this, since it is heavily buzzworded:

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