A short overview of the favorite topics of urban practionners
on the web 2.0
Today Urban practionners – architects, urban planners, developers, civil servants – are like everyone else, big users of the web as source of information, exchange, discussion and even maybe knowledge production.
URBACT, in the framework of its communication strategy, has been active in these discussions that deal about real urban issues in the virtual world! Commenting on articles, proposing content emerging from URBACT projects, reflecting interesting ideas and issues in the URBACT blog, or establishing an editorial partnership, we have discovered a large number of websites and blogs dedicated to urban issues.
Here, we have decided to highlight few of them: because the topics they deal with are close to that cities work on in URBACT projects and because they are particularly dynamic and interesting. All these websites and blogs have one point in common: they are seeking for a sustainable city for tomorrow.
They also reflect the diversity of actors that make the city: municipalities, network of public authorities, associations of neighbourhoods, companies, NGOS – quite often coalitions gathering these different types of actors – have developed websites to bring about their experience and showcase their expertise for their territory. But more than that, the bloggers community is also used as a tool to network and to build coalitions between urban actors in order to develop a common approach.
Here you’ll find a review of some websites focused on specific areas: energy, mobility, innovation and social integration.
Urban mobility and urban innovation: Running upfront
Mobility and Innovation are the most discussed topics on the blogosphere and many blogs approach these issues from diverse points of views.
Sustainable-Mobility (Mobilité-Durable for the French version of the website) is a platform on sustainable mobility which showcases actions that try to include transportation means, economic progress and sustainable development. Run by the Sustainable Mobility Institute, the website gives an exhaustive overview of mobility news by publishing articles and interviewing experts, featuring videos and hosting a twitter wall. It also has an ‘invited blogs’ sections, in which an article of Sally Kneeswhaw, Lead Expert for the URBACT EVUE project, on electro mobility has recently been published! Its thematic is close to that of another URBACT project: Active Travel Network (ATN). Maybe one article from ATN will soon be featured there?
Another blog dealing with sustainable transportation on a global perspective – TheCityFix.com – is fed by a network of writers and transport specialists who explore environmentally and socially responsible ways to make cities better places to live. It relies on its international community to provide a global, multi-disciplinary perspective to its coverage of local sustainable urban transport. There you can find out for instance that experts and leaders in sustainable transport from around the world are currently exploring urban transportation solutions at the 2011 Sustainable Transport Symposium beginning today in Kocaeli, Turkey. Sure you’ll be able to find the results too. TheCityFix.com notably consists in a network of city blogs, for instance from Mumbai, Washington D.C and Mexico and is run by EMBARQ – The World Resources Institute Center for Sustainable Transport, a non-profit organization that works with cities in the developing world.
Innovation in urban areas appears also as one of the most successful topic in websites and blogs.
Innov’in the City is an information website that analyses technological inventions or services in municipalities all over the world. Innov’in the city is run by the Paris Region Innovation Laboratory which aims at transforming the Ile-de-France territory into an experimentation territory. There you can see how Paris dreams about the Green Canadian way of life developed in Vancouver or you can also find out on URBACT: Innov’in the City also published S. Kneewshaw’s article on the EVUE project!
But urban innovation is also treated from a social angle!
The Social Innovation Exchange website gathers a global community of 100 000 people and organizations that promote social innovation. Its objective is to improve the methods that enable societies to develop better solutions to challenges like ageing, climate change or healthcare. There you can find out on the new intiative launched by a consortium led by SIX, and supported by DG Enterprise entitled Social Innovation Europe : a new website and events series that will bring together social innovators from across Europe. In URBACT, social innovation is treated through the Urban N.O.S.E project. More URBACT projects deals with innovation such as Creative Clusters, ESIMEC, REDIS, RUnUp and UNIC.
Seeking for urban sustainable solutions in targeted areas: energy, environment or public space and integration of migrants
Involvement of citizens in Place making
The Project for Public Spaces website promotes a pioneering approach: the Placemaking approach, which helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places. Places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs. This approach is considered as a transformative agenda to build stronger sustainable, healthy and economically viable communities. There you can find arguments against outdoor advertisements and their impact on communities. Here again, the thematic is close to that developed in some URBACT projects referring to public space such as HOPUS, NODUS and SUITE.
Environmentally sustainable and energy-efficient cities
On the environmental and energetic themes, Energy Cities developed a lively blog. Energy Cities presents itself as the European association of local authorities that « invent their energetic future ». Its objective is to represent the interests of its 1000 member cities and to lobby towards European institutions on topics dealing with sustainable energy as well as strengthening capacity-building and exchanging good practices between cities. That’s why it’s the place to find out about the last plans of the European institutions in terms of transport planning, such as the “Transport 2050” strategy of the European Commission, presented as an ambitious plan to increase mobility and reduce emissions.
The Comment Visions website also explores ways to tackle the energetic challenge. Born out of a partnership between the global TV channel, Euronews and the Brussels-based newspaper, European Voice, in association with Shell, it explores new topics each month, such as How can government and industry win public support for new low-carbon technologies? and presents the personal views of thinkers, innovators and scientists about possible solutions to global warming, overpopulation and dwindling resources.
Comment visions through Euronews recently directed a reportage on Lisbon’s experience regarding sustainable mobility, Lisbon being partner of the EVUE project. This reportage also includes an interview of Sally Kneewshaw
The input of migrants in the city
Finally regarding integration of migrants, Cities of migration - run by Maytree, a private foundation in Canada that provides leadership on diversity and urban prosperity issues – explores the good practices in terms of integrating migrants in urban areas. Its main tools are showcasing 100 Good Ideas for Integration, with all the necessary information to implement successful projects. Online forums enable members of the community to communicate on these issues. It has also developed the format of the webinars, the next one being on Community Policing: Finding Common Ground with Immigrant Communities…Good Ideas from Cardiff and Newport News! Some input from the URBACT MILE, ROMA-Net, Open Cities and CoNet projects has already appeared on Cities of Migration, and more bridges have to be created.
The overview would not be complete without some insight on website developping a multisectoral approach. This will be coming later this week!
Ségolène Pruvot and Alexandra Solom for URBACT