Why India needs “smart slums”
India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has sparked comment about his vision for creating 100 smart cities. Writing in India Today, Sanjeev Sanyal, an urbanist, economist and writer, argues that new and upgraded cities are incomplete without “smart slums.”
Sanjeev’s recipe for a smart slum includes inexpensive rent and “easy financing” that encourages home purchases. Access to schools, public services, social networks and transportation is essential. Equally important is ensuring that slums are safe. These ideas mark a departure, he contends, from current thinking that emphasizes subsidized housing for the poor with little or no opportunity for socio-economic mobility.
Sanyal explains that slums play an essential role by absorbing migrants into urban areas that offer economic opportunities — and a ticket out of poverty for them or their children. “By building it into the design, ‘smart slums’ can support the migration process while mitigating the squalor,” he writes.
Sources: Citisignals (9/16/2014) and India Today (9/12/2014)
ECOLOGICAL MARTYR? Peruvian environmentalist who opposed illegal logging remembered
Peruvian activist Edwin Chota, 54, who opposed illegal logging in the Peruvian Amazon, was recently killed along with three other people. Known as a forest advocate, Chota was a leader of the Ashaninka Indian village of Saweto, near the Brazilian border.
Mr. Chota was killed after leaving Saweto on Aug. 31, while on his way to meet with leaders from another Ashaninka village a few days walk away, according to his widow, Julia Pérez, and media reports. Three other Saweto leaders accompanying him were also killed, officials said.
The huge Amazon Basin, rich in natural resources, has long suffered from violence in areas of illegal logging, deforestation for cattle ranches, mineral extraction, and other activities. NPR recently offered a look at his legacy and advocacy efforts through his friend David Salisbury, associate professor of geography and the environment at the University of Richmond.
Sources: National Public Radio (9/10), The New York Times (9/11)
2014: Best new websites on city design, development, and planning
Planetizen just released its annual list of the ten best planning, design, and development websites represents only some of the top online resources for news, information and research on the built environment.
This year’s list focuses on websites and online resources that have either launched, released new products, or provided a novel contribution to the conversation about built and natural environments in 2014:
Built-up areas of Atlanta and Barcelona at the same scale
Urban densities are not trivial, as they severely limit transport mode choice and change only very slowly. Because of the large differences in densities between Atlanta and Barcelona about the same length of metro line is accessible to 60% of the population in Barcelona but only 4% in Atlanta. Atlanta’s low density of Atlanta makes rapid transit all the more difficult in an automobile-oriented metropolis.
From work by Alain Bertaud
MEXICO CITY: ProAire program
Although the United Nations declared Mexico City the planet’s most polluted city in 1992, air quality has improved greatly since then. Thanks to a series of comprehensive plans – named ProAire – the city has curbed its infamous smog haze and recorded impressive reductions in local air pollution as well as CO2 emissions over the last two decades.
Mexico City’s air quality programs include bus rapid transit (BRT) and Metrobus systems, bike-sharing, vehicle emissions reductions, containment of urban sprawl, and even removing cars entirely from narrow streets to make room for buses and pedestrians. This comprehensive approach has greatly improved the urban environment.
In 2013, the Mexican capital took the Air Quality award from the City Climate Leadership Awards for ProAire, a program that has dramatically cut CO2 emissions and air pollution over the last 20 years.
Sources: Mexico City meets, exceeds Climate Action Program goals, 2012; Tanya Muller García, Air Quality Management in Mexico City
Map of Brazil, by Luiz Teixeira, ca. 1586
Note the Portuguese captaincies, or land grants to loyal nobles, along the Brazilian coast. Of the first 15 charters, five were not colonized, 8 were of limited success due to Indian attacks, and only two of these — São Vicente and Pernambuco — were successful right away.
Map reproduced by David Woodward (editor), The History of Cartography, Volume 3: Cartography in the European Renaissance, 2007.