Exclusives

Blog post
May 18, 2017, 9am PDT

Gentrification—more wealthy people moving into lower-income communities—often faces opposition, sometimes for the wrong reasons. It is important to consider all benefits and costs when formulating urban development policies.

Todd Litman
Blog post
September 24, 2004, 8am PDT
Screenshot of Second Life

Wired has a story about university professors about taking online education to a new level -- teaching classes in a 3-D virtual world. The virtual world in a "massively multiplayer " online game called Second Life includes a developed economy, neighborhoods and communities, all manner of vehicles and the ability to create nearly anything imaginable.
Abhijeet Chavan
Blog post
September 22, 2004, 6pm PDT
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
Chris Steins
Blog post
September 21, 2004, 5pm PDT
Today's New York Times has a kinda terrifying article (reg. req'd) about Chicago's new network of "smart" surveillance cameras. Don't worry; everything's going to be okay we're all doomed:
Police specialists here can already monitor live footage from about 2,000 surveillance cameras around the city, so the addition of 250 cameras under the mayor's new plan is not a great jump. The way these cameras will be used, however, is an extraordinary technological leap.

Sophisticated new computer programs will immediately alert the police whenever anyone viewed by any of the cameras placed at buildings and other structures considered terrorist targets wanders aimlessly in circles, lingers outside a public building, pulls a car onto the shoulder of a highway, or leaves a package and walks away from it. Images of those people will be highlighted in color at the city's central monitoring station, allowing dispatchers to send police officers to the scene immediately.
Feature
September 17, 2004, 12am PDT

The Smart Land Use (SLU) movement is undertaking very important work evolving the 20-acre transit village paradigm, but is ignoring massive trends that affect many more people than SLU effo

Steve Raney
Feature
September 13, 2004, 12am PDT
The federal government can play a transformative rather than divisive role if it becomes a better partner in land use, housing - and especially transportation.
Earl Blumenauer
Feature
September 10, 2004, 12pm PDT
Spatial information professionals gather at the 42nd Annual Conference of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association in Reno, NV.
Abhijeet Chavan
Blog post
September 8, 2004, 2pm PDT






Here is a neat example of how visualization tools are helping improve the planning process for communities. It's an example we came across while researching tools for a chapter we are writing for the APA.


The City of Vail, Colorado offers an example of 3D visualization tools being used to improve the design review process. The city requires developers to submit a 3D model – preferably a virtual model – for design review. The virtual model is then placed in a 3D model, created by Winston Associates (www.winstonassociates.com), of the mountains, roads and ground plain to make it possible to explore the impacts of new buildings in the context of their surroundings. This technique was beneficial in getting an initially wary community behind a recent affordable housing project. Winston Associates worked with the developers to generate a 3-D model in 3ds max (formerly known as 3D Studio Max) and then placed the housing model into the site model. Using the model they demonstrated how the housing development would look from different vantage points such as the highway. In addition, the model proved to concerned neighbors that the development could not been seen from their homes. The project is currently under construction.

Ken Snyder
Blog post
September 1, 2004, 7am PDT
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.
Chris Steins
Blog post
August 29, 2004, 5pm PDT
A report by California Performance Review Commission, recommends that state agencies "should take an inventory of software purchases and software renewals...and implement open-source alternatives where feasible." According to CNet:

California joins numerous government bodies that have adopted or considered procurement policies that favor open-source software as more cost-effective and secure. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts cast its lot with open-source last year, as have government agencies in Britain, Korea and elsewhere.
Abhijeet Chavan
Blog post
August 29, 2004, 4pm PDT
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. "
Chris Steins
Blog post
August 26, 2004, 11am PDT
I have been struck lately by the progress of several projects using non-ESRI based GIS planning support systems and how often the decision to move away from ESRI has been that PC based ArcGIS cannot handle the large data sets for real-time scenario analysis.

I just saw a beta demonstration of a wildfire mitigation application developed by the University of Colorado's Planning department that uses a combination of open source GIS, SQL server, and Perl coding to help cities and counties look at alternative growth futures and how they impact fire mitigation.
Ken Snyder
Blog post
August 25, 2004, 7pm PDT
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.
Chris Steins
Feature
August 17, 2004, 12am PDT
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs a bill that institutionalizes form-based zoning for the first time in California history.
Laura Hall and Paul Crawford
Blog post
August 12, 2004, 4pm PDT
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.
Chris Steins
Blog post
August 9, 2004, 11pm PDT
An article in the Los Angeles Times takes a look at how local and national government agencies around the world are increasing adopting Open Source Software (OSS). (See: "Developing Nations See Linux as a Savior From Microsoft's Grip" [Reg. reqd], Los Angeles Time, page A4, Aug 9th, 2004) . According to the article:

"Government-driven movements to shift to free or low-cost software � fed by security, economic and ideological concerns -- threaten to dent Microsoft's ambitions. In fact, government officials the world over, from local authorities in Austria's capital to high-ranking national bureaucrats in India, are increasingly moving from proprietary software such as Microsoft's to open-source products."
Abhijeet Chavan
Blog post
August 9, 2004, 9am PDT
Washington, DC - in our nation's capital, blogging about a New York Times article about Los Angeles. Isn't technology wonderful?

The Times almost never gets LA right. They cover it like an alien planet, populated by strange, non-New Yorkers who also seem kinda hip (so what's up with that?). Usually, every NYT story about LA begins with the same implicit lead sentence that their coverage of Japan used to: "These freakin' people, you wouldn't believe what they're up to now."

And then comes this
Blog post
August 6, 2004, 8am PDT
The Planning and Regulatory Services Online project [PARSOL], a local e-government initiative in the U.K. has developed a new XML schema for monitoring land use.

[The PARSOL schema] has been designed to provide a standard for planning application monitoring data (used to monitor land use against local and national plans and policies). This schema will be used for the exchange of data at a local, regional and national level...The information covers both residential (housing) and industrial (employment) information gathered from planning application, inspections and reviews.
Abhijeet Chavan
Blog post
August 4, 2004, 10am PDT
I missed this story in Variety this weekend. It's about movie theaters in downtown Los Angeles as the latest strategy to "revitalize" the neighborhood where my fellow blogger Chris and I used to drive late, late at night when we were kids, to view the postapocalyptic emptiness of it all.

A salient bit:

Almost a century has passed since Hollywood staged its biggest premieres in the urban heart of Los Angeles. But tonight's preem of DreamWorks and Paramount's "Collateral" at the 2,000-seat Orpheum Theater could be a turning point for the opulent movie palaces along South Broadway.
Blog post
August 1, 2004, 8am PDT
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."
Chris Steins
Blog post
July 27, 2004, 6pm PDT
Thanks to my friend Noah Shachtman at Defense Tech, now I know about Transportation Futuristics, an ongoing exhibit up the street from me at the University of California at Berkeley. It's chock-full of pictures like this one:



All kinds of wacky transport concepts that never, you should pardon the expression, got anywhere.