Jakarta Traffic. Photo credit: VasenkaPhotography, Flickr, Creative Commons License.

Resilience Roundup: Relief Robots, Mapping Nameless Streets, and More

The Resilience Roundup features the latest and greatest resilience stories from across the globe. Think we left something out? Leave us a comment!

How One Organization Is Mapping Beirut, a City with No Street Names

Whether or not street names and addresses exist in Beirut, Lebanon, nobody uses them. Instead, residents rely on a range of landmarks to give directions. “Modern Beirut had not been mapped since the 1970s and, most importantly, the local points of reference had never been marked,” says Bahi Ghubril, who moved to Beirut in 2005 and has been working on mapping these landmarks for a decade.

His Company, Zawarib, uses 10 years of informal data to create all kinds of atlases and maps of the city.

It’s about learning how a city works. There’s usually a very clear order; you just have to understand it.

Cedar Wings Beirut, Mapped by Zawarib.

Jakarta May Use a Competition to Source Traffic Congestion Solutions

Jakarta, Indonesia’s traffic congestion is tremendous – “so severe in Jakarta that some observers fear the worst: permanent gridlock on the city’s roads.” Some think this is partly due to a lack of viable public transportation to incentivize people to stop using cars. The New Cities Foundation and Connect4Climate have an innovative idea to address congestion: the Jakarta Urban Challenge, a contest that will award $20,000 (USD) for the best ideas on alleviating congestion.

NYC WiFi Program May Be a Platform for Citizen Engagement

Link NYC is a communications network that claims to be a “first-of-its-kind” solution to bring “the fastest available municipal Wi-Fi to millions of New Yorkers, small businesses, and visitors.” The initial plan is to replace all existing payphones with “state-of-the-art technology” that will provide free 24/7 public Wi-Fi, free phone calls to anywhere in the United States,  touchscreen access to city services, and more, all at no cost to taxpayers. In the long term, the platform could even “one day form the basis for digital voting polling stations,” says Colin O’Donnell, a founding partner the Control Group, the organization behind the project.

HT #ThisWeekInData by DataSmart.ash.harvard.edu

Disaster Resilience Robots

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is running a contest to foster the design of a new, innovative approach to natural disaster relief: robots. Competitors will attempt to “design robots that can perform dangerous rescue work after nuclear accidents, earthquakes and tsunamis.

CHIMP is a four-limbed human-size robot that’s designed to move on tank-like treads fixed to each of its four limbs. DARPA Robotics Challenge

Chinese Cities Work Together to Reduce Smog

Six cities in China are working collaboratively “to build a unified system to forecast heavy smog and implement emergency response measures.” City officials hope this initiative will support local efforts to reduce air pollution in the cities.

Indian Businesses Lead the Way in Reducing Street Congestion

Traffic and congestion cost India significant economic output and thousands of lives each year. Some local governments in India have responded to the problem by focusing on infrastructure development, a process that can often be slow and ineffective. Some businesses have decided to stop waiting and try a different approach, transport demand management (TDM).

TDM is the application of strategies and policies to reduce or redistribute peoples’ demand for travel, for example by providing employees with commuter subsidies for public transportation or company busses to and from nearby metro stations. The successes of employer-initiated TDM to date demonstrate how businesses can bring change and signal to political leaders that cost-effective solutions exist.

Do you have a resilience story from the past few weeks that we missed? Share it in the comments or on Twitter with #ResilientCities and it might make it into the next roundup.