Scott Page is the founder of Interface Studio, a collaborative design office based in Philadelphia.

Interactive Tours

The "trace", as some designers and planners refer to them, are marketed and annotated tours that cover specific topics including waterfronts, historic districts and parks. Traditionally, they've been undertaken through marketing efforts and physical improvements such as signs, markers and designated trails. Until recently, they have been developed top-down with funding and the identification of historic markers and sites by specific organizations. Ken Snyder's excellent post

Digital Earth

In his 1992 novel, Snow Crash, writer Neal Stephenson imagined the ultimate user interface to access geographic information:

"There is something new: a globe about the size of grapefruit, a perfectly detailed rendition of Planet Earth, hanging in space at arm's length in front of his eyes... It's a piece of CIC software called, simply, Earth. It is the user interface that the CIC uses to keep track of every bit of spatial information that it owns -- all the maps, weather data, architectural plans, and satellite surveillance stuff." [More excerpts ]

Cities and Climate

I haven't clicked through all the links yet on this fantastic post on research in urban climate from Roland Piquepaille's technology blog. I plan to. As usual, it's a tremendously good aggregation of the state of research in a field. Meteorologists and urban planners, with the help of Earth-sensing satellites, are starting to get a sense of how even small features of cities -- individual skyscrapers -- have an effect on global weather patterns and pollution.

Google Maps Again Some More

From this month's issue of Wired, I give you this roundup of interesting uses for Google's wicked cool mapping application. Salient bits:

It's Google's world, we just live in it. In the few months since its release, the search engine's latest info-appliance - satellite photos searchable by address - has spawned dozens of inspired spinoffs. Here's a look at some of the ways the hive mind is bending

Muni WiFi: More Like Mass Transit than We Thought

Where have I been? I have no idea.

Take this with a grain of salt, for what it's worth, etc., but the consultancy Jupiter Research now says that municipal WiFi programs ain't worth the money. Excerpt from the release:

"Because the benefits of municipal wireless networks are inherently difficult to measure, and because it is too early to look at outcomes, examining breakeven thresholds provides the best reference point for decision-makers," stated Jay Horwitz, Senior Analyst at JupiterResearch. The report estimates that the average cost of building and maintaining a municipal wireless network is $150,000 per square mile over five years. According to the report, roughly 50% of current initiatives will fail to breakeven even if the benefit of the initiative is assumed to be $25 per user per month.


My colleague, Chris Haller, has done some great research on online mapping tools/techniques that can be used for community planning and community building.  Here's some stuff he discovered on GeoTagging. 

Since Google started its mapping service, based on xml and an API open to everyone, a lot of non-affiliated web applications have been emerging that bring GIS and online mapping closer to “Joe Internetuser”.

City-Wide PRT

Just an added note on personal rapid transit. Some years ago, Bruno Latour wrote "Aramis" which documents the French government's attempt to create a PRT system for Paris (later killed by the government itself). Written as a cross between a socialogical study and a mystery novel, its worth a look for those interested in the subject.

Ultimate Planning-Tech Blog Marketing

Cities21 proposal for PRT at Microsoft CampusSo Steve Raney, directory of the nonprofit transit advocacy group Cities 21, emailed me a pre-packaged blog entry, including images and a proposed blog title, about a proposal his organization is circulating for a personal rapid transit (PRT) system on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA. The visualization on the site were, in fact, fascinating, and a great introduction to how well PRT can work as a transit alternative.

You say utility, I say...

In Adam's spirit of "tweaking" fellow bloggers, (Hi All) I'd like to emphasize Adam's last point - "Is it still a utility if no one utilizes it?"

For all of the talk about municipal wireless, particularly in my hometown of Philadelphia, I've always been concerned about the ultimate use of the investment despite the fact I agree that anti-municipal broadband laws are detrimental to the flexibility of any City to serve their population. I'm reminded of an interview posted on Muniwireless

Free Urban Wi-Fi? Feh!

Mostly I'm posting this just to maliciously tweak my fellow blogger Charles Kaylor. Hi, Charles!

It seems that not everybody wants free WiFi downtown. At least, not everybody in Orlando, Florida, which according to the Orlando Sentinel is cranking down the valve on the urban teat. Or something.

Sunday marked the last day of a pilot program that allowed those in certain downtown "hot spots" to access the Internet free of charge. The test program was initially supposed to last six months, but the city kept it going 17 months.

City officials said the service worked well -- as many as 200 people using laptop or hand-held computers could log on at once to check e-mail or surf the Web from a wireless zone bordered by Orange Avenue, Eola Drive, and South and Robinson streets.

The problem: Few people were interested.

Despite daydreams of working and browsing the Internet while lounging on a bench at Lake Eola Park, only about 27 people a day, on average, accessed the free service. City officials said they couldn't continue to justify the $1,800-a-month expense.