Resilience Roundup: 2015 in Review, Parks, and the New Urban Agenda

The Resilience Roundup keeps you up-to-date with some of the most recent news and thinking in urban resilience. We have a longer roundup this week to catch up on the end of 2015.

The Historic Link between Cities and Innovation

Research from Boston University explores the way urbanization and transportation spurred American innovation in the late 18th and 19th centuries. “Urban areas allow for greater specialization, which might encourage patenting by giving people in those areas better access to the bureaucracy of patenting (e.g. lawyers, machinists, draftspeople), or by encouraging innovation directly,” argues BU economist and doctoral candidate Elizabeth Ruth Perlman.

Planners Should Recognize Informal Labor

The role of cities and sub-national actors continues to grow, increasing their power and shifting agendas in these urban spaces. Harvard Kennedy School lecturer Marty Chen argues that with the huge portion of most cities’ economies that informal workers represent, they “remain almost entirely unrecognized in urban planning and local economic development efforts.” This needs to change, especially at Habitat III this year, “in order to address urban poverty, inequality, and unemployment,” Chen concludes.

Secondary Cities Have a Big Role to Play

Although much of the attention in international development has focused on current or soon-to-be mega and primary cities, rapidly growing secondary cities will play a significant role in global economic development. As gateways between rural and metropolitan areas, secondary cities are growing rapidly but struggling to attract much needed investment to build infrastructure and vibrant communities.

The Well-Lit Urban Future

Urban lighting accounts for a huge percentage of global energy consumption and carbon emissions. Research also suggests that the 24-hour illumination common in cities is making us sick. In response to these imperatives—reduce energy consumption and reduce light pollution—many cities are experimenting with a variety of green illumination solutions. These include bioluminescent plants and intelligent street lighting that adds more control and efficiency to urban lighting networks. Designers’ visions for the future of urban lighting is far more energy efficient, more ergonomic, and less disruptive of natural rhythms.

How a UK Town Worked with Nature to Stay Dry

Storm Eva flooded much of Northern England in December. Storm damages were estimated at over £5 billion. However, one Yorkshire town protected itself by rejecting conventional wisdom and recreating historical approaches. The town of Pickering used age-old water management systems, like a series of primitive hay and wood dams and a floodwater storage bund, to let nature protect the town from inundation.

Cities Loved Bicycles in 2015

Cities are creating better biking cities with a simple solution: redesign streets that were originally designed for cars to make them safe and easy for cyclers. This review from FastCoexist highlights some of the most interesting urban bike news of 2015.

Park Design Showed Shifts in Urban Policy in 2015

This list of ambitious and innovative urban, public space projects approved—and in some cases completed—in 2015 demonstrates a welcomed trend. “Big picture parks” are being designed that change the face of cities, bringing much-needed greenspace, play space, and public space to areas in greatest need. Whether by salvaging and transforming abandoned buildings and parking lots, carving out huge swaths of urban space to promote walkability, or integrating biking and running trails, a museum, concert space, and an underground irrigation cistern, cities are rethinking space and what they need to be healthy.

Any resilience new or stories from 2015 that you think stood out? Let us know in the comments.