High resolution real-time weather forecasting

With over 50% of the world population living in cities and a projected two-thirds of the population living in cities in 2030 (UN-Habitat), accurate weather forecasting becomes an important tool to respond timely and mitigate risks in cities. Extensive conurbations like the Pearl River Delta, Tianjin-Beijing, Yangtze River Delta, New York-Boston and (mega) cities like Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Jakarta, Manila, Los Angeles, Lagos, London, Hanoi, Bangalore have important features in common: dense populations, impervious built surfaces, significant emissions of pollutants, heat and waste, etc.(WMO). Large urban areas have differentiated weather patterns distributed across the city or metropolitan area. High resolution real-time weather forecasting becomes ever more important in order to forecast impacts, to communicate timely to urban populations at risk and to take right decisions in deploying emergency services in cities. It can also provide the evidence for adaptation measures among others the location of flood retention areas or the implementation of smart sewage systems that can be controlled as needed. High resolution weather forecasting can also provide diversified data on energy consumption and production of different neighbourhoods in the city and the way smart grids should respond to distributed peaks. In an urbanised world the weather forecast can no longer be seen as an external factor as the urban atmospheric conditions are impacted by emissions, pollution, heat island effects, urban form and other environmental factors. High resolution weather forecasting is increasingly focusing on air quality in addition to temperature, humidity and precipitation which is a signal that urban meteorology, climate and environmental research could evolve in more integrated city services (Urban Climate, Baklanov, Grimond). High resolution real-time weather forecasting for urban areas is a field that requires not only the technical instruments, data collection and interpretation, but also sophisticated comparative analysis between urban datasets available in cities, accurate algorithms, policies and governance models for risk mitigation.
Picture: Antony Pratap CC2.0

Algorithmic Transparency

“Algorithmic governance is made possible by vast increases in computing power and networking, which enable the collection, storage, and analysis of large amounts of data. Cities seek to harness that data to rationalise and automate the operation of public services and infrastructure, such as health services, public safety, criminal justice, education, transportation, and energy. The limitations of local government make private contractors central to this process, giving rise to accountability problems characteristic of policy outsourcing.” (2018, Brauneis, Goodman) Algorithmic governance will be increasingly important in the way decisions are made in cities. This has led to a debate on the transparency of the algorithms and the potential biases built into it. As discussed in the Right Way to Regulate Algorithms: “The purpose of data-driven algorithms like this one is to make policing more objective and less subject to individual bias. But many worry that the biases are simply baked into the algorithms themselves.” New York will be the first city that will scrutinise the potential biases in algorithms and that will develop policies on how to regulate access to underlying assumptions. According to the New Yorker: “Once signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio (dec 2017 red.), the legislation will establish a task force to examine the city’s “automated decision systems”—the computerised algorithms that guide the allocation of everything from police officers and firehouses to public housing and food stamps—with an eye toward making them fairer and more open to scrutiny.”

Sources:
Algorithmic Transparency for the Smart City, Robert Brauneis & Ellen P. Goodman
The Right Way to Regulate Algorithms, by Chris Bousquet, Stephen Goldsmith
The New Yorker: New York City’s Bold, Flawed Attempt to Make Algorithms Accountable
Picture: Kolitha de Silva CC BY 2.0

Blockchain for Land Registries

Blockchain, the technology developed for cryptocurrency finds its way into the field of governance. Opportunities to apply this decentralised, secure technology, are promising in e-voting, municipal finance, real estate transfers and land registries. This technology for land registries is piloted in Sweden, the Netherlands and India and discussed in Ghana and Kenya among others. Blockchain technology offers access to up to date encrypted data by many stakeholders, without being vulnerable to hacking. Instead of having a central server, blockchain disperses the encrypted data or the ledger of a process in a chain of blocks at different interconnected locations. In developing and emerging economies blockchain can offer a more transparent technology to avoid painstaking land registry processes and fake deeds that are common in places without a cadaster. According to the World Bank only 30% of the land is being registered. The market for this upcoming technology for land registry is big, but so is the challenge. Firstly there is the complexity of legal frameworks related to land and real estate that will not allow transfers to happen in digitial space with digital signatures only. Secondly the technology requires a blockchain protocol, smart tokens for land parcels, capacities of the parties involved – the agent, the banks, the seller and the buyer. Developing smart tokens for a city where no or limited has been been registered yet is already an immense task in itself. Blockchain technology offers many opportunities within the urban governance fields, but as always it is not a silver bullet, it requires a combination of new technology, data collection, policymaking, capacity building and stakeholder involvement to succeed.

Sources and links:
https://www.economist.com/news/business/21722869-anti-establishment-technology-faces-ironic-turn-fortune-governments-may-be-big-backers
http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/land
https://www.ft.com/content/60f838ea-e514-11e7-8b99-0191e45377ec
Picture: Stockholm, Magnus Johansson, Creative Commons

Decentralised Renewables

Decentralised Renewables offer an alternative for connections to the grid. In Africa 110 million of the 600 million urban dwellers still have no access to electricity (the Conversation). “Pay-as-you-go solar systems and appliances, for example, can provide a much lower barrier to entry (as opposed to fixing the last mile to the grid, red.) Compared to the high upfront connection costs in Kenya, a 15-watt solar home system costs on average USD $9 per month for 36 months after which point the household owns its system. (the Conversation). The solution to the challenge of financing the scale-up of Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) energy access lies not so much in the development of new initiatives but in the use and redirection of existing approaches for PAYG, particularly the use of credit guarantees, lines of credit, technical assistance, and investment in a “fund of funds.” (WRI).
As SmartCityStudio has discussed earlier in the posts of the platform is that cities will not become smart with technology only. The policy and finance environment is crucial to succeed in using data and technology for better analytics, for new systems and for decentralised solutions as mentioned above. National governments have a responsibility in the ambition to let smart cities thrive. According to the Innovation and Technology Foundation: “While national governments should always be involved in supporting innovation, their main goal with smart cities is to enact policies that set in motion significant shifts in how cities operate that will allow this evolution to be self-sustaining.” Additionally the international community and the private sector can acellerate implementation of decentralised renewables. End of 2016 the “Green Climate Fund agreed to become the anchor investor in a $3.5 billion debt fund for decentralised renewables proposed by Deutsche Bank AG” “Which will initially focus on Nigeria, Benin, Namibia, Tanzania and Kenya”. (Thomson Reuters Foundation News)
Picture: Kibera, Kenya, Rogier van den Berg

City Permits for Sharing Services

Three startups in San Francisco raised more the $200 million for their electric scooter sharing product. This new San Francisco trend, that allows you, with your phone, to scan a bike, take a ride and leave it for the next to use wherever you want. The latter has not only sparked complaints by citizens annoyed by scooters left on the pavement, it has come to the city attorney issuing a cease-and-desist order to the startups. The scooter and bike sharing programmes without docks and dedicated parking spaces have led globally to discussions on the regulations related to sharing of private sector products in public spaces. Although the intentions and impacts of bikes and electric scooters for short rides in cities should be encouraged, regulations and permits for operators in cities should be respected. Scootergate in San Francisco is exemplary for many challenges that cities face when going Smart. Implementation of Smart City technology even frivolous ones like electric scooters requires Smart regulations and well thought-through partnerships. Per region globally the way public space is being used and managed is very different and as such requires tailored approaches to regulations and public-private partnerships.

Sources and links:
https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/San-Francisco-has-no-interest-in-banning-electric-12849134.php
http://www.businessinsider.com/electric-scooter-startup-war-in-san-francisco-2018-4
https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/16/electric-scooters-are-getting-closer-to-regulation-in-sf
Picture: San Francisco, GPS, Creative Commons

Smart City Strategies

Future Cities Catapult has released their first global review of smart city strategies at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona. The report looks at 21 smart city strategies from around the world including New York, Berlin, Sao Paulo and Manchester.|

The publication will give city leaders insights into how they can begin their smart city journey. This Global Review charts the evolution in smart city strategies from technology-driven towards citizen-centred. It highlights the challenges in creating collaborative citizen-led strategies that can cope with a new wave of digital disruption as evidenced by apps such as Uber and Airbnb.
The review makes the following five recommendations for city governments:

  1. Establish strong leadership to develop skills and capacity within local government to initiate and deliver at-scale smart city projects.
  2. Embed your smart city strategy within existing statutory frameworks in order to ensure the strategy’s implementation and funding.
  3. When creating your smart city strategy, consider a collaborative approach, coupled with strong political support, to ensure that you harness your citizens’ and businesses’ capabilities and respond to their needs.
  4. Tap into core city funding by regularly scanning your existing city assets and budgets in order to leverage these for smart city projects.
  5. Create a plan for private sector engagement and long-term collaboration, as well as a designated person or team for communicating with businesses and investors.
    Picture: Geneva, Rogier van den Berg

100 Smart Cities

Mumbai

The Indian government will develop 100 Smart Cities in the next 15 years. The current urbanization level is around 31% accounting for 60% of India’s GDP. The urbanization level is expected to grow rapidly in the coming 15 years and hence the Indian Government developed an ambitious plan to develop plans for these ‘engines of economic growth’ using the latest principles for sustainable urban development and new technologies. Accordingly, the current thinking is that 100 cities to be developed as Smart Cities may be chosen from amongst the following:

  • One satellite city of each of the cities with a population of 4 million people or more – 9 cities
  • All the cities in the population range of 1 – 4 million people – 44 cities
  • All State Capitals, even if they have a population of less than one million – 17 cities
  • Cities of tourist and religious importance – 10 cities
  • Cities in the 0.5 to 1.0 million population range – 20 cities
  • In Delhi, a new smart city through the land pooling scheme has been proposed

More than one and a half year ago the Indian government already launched the initiative. At that moment in time the ‘100 Smart Cities’ plan was conceived as a mere technological approach to the city. The Note on Smart Cities that is to be found on the website of the Indian government now takes a much broader and interesting approach. Summarised ‘Smart’ is being defined as providing basic infrastructure and services, resilient and attractive urban patterns, quick and transparent planning processes and new technologies. In a sense the ‘100 Smart Cities’ strategy is upscaling the ‘pilot project’ hundred fold in order to generate a real and lasting effect on a broad range of cities across the country. Learning from these examples and all the new brainpower that this ‘grande project’ attracts should equip local governments with the right tools and guiding principles to cope with the rapid urbanisation in the country.
Picture: Martin Roemers

Infrastructure Packaging

Historically, cities as separate urban government units had never garnered any significant attention from the United Nations, but at Tuesday’s U.N. Climate Summit in New York, mayors from all over the world took center stage.
A common theme throughout the day was that cities are crucial to fight climate change because urban areas are responsible for nearly 70 percent of all carbon emissions.
To reduce pollution from urban centers, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the establishment of the Climate Finance Leadership Alliance, tasked with funding low-carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure projects and make their implementation better and easier as a key component of the struggle against global warming.

Despite the U.N.’s usual good intentions, the purpose of CFLA seems to be a work in progress, not due to a lack of focus by the loose partnership, but in part because infrastructure project funding is so different for various sectors in different cities. Participants at the summit highlighted that any financing initiative must be flexible in order to bring everyone to the table.
So far about 20 partners — ranging from the C40 advocacy group to Citibank — have committed to CFLA, according to Amanda Eichel, adviser to Michael Bloomberg, U.N. special envoy on cities and climate change and former mayor of New York.

Partners will not engage in direct funding of infrastructure projects, but rather leverage the right investors to make those projects a reality in developing countries, precisely where the risk is highest.
CFLA will thus function like a consulting firm for cities on “how to package projects in an interesting way to make them more attractive to investors,” Eichel said.
“A common communication, language and approach” in presenting infrastructure projects is the main reason cities have such trouble funding large infrastructure projects, Bloomberg’s adviser explained.
Investors struggle to navigate the bureaucracy’s competing priorities and the lack of clarity on any potential returns, so the initiative will provide them with guidance on each sector instead of focusing on individual cities, in order to maximize development impact.

To illustrate how the process works, Eichel gave the example of a mass transit development project in a particular urban area. CFLA would study what transport needs are across a range of cities within that sector and give recommendations on how to “market and advertise” that type of project to potential investors. It would then be up to that city to apply that “branding” strategy and choose their own partners and contracts based on individual cities’ criteria.

Outside of its partners, the initiative’s unofficial steering committee is led by the World Bank,Bloomberg PhilanthropiesU.N.-Habitat and the Rockefeller Foundation. Although final roles have yet to be finalized, Bloomberg Philanthropies and World Bank will be in charge of researching and assessing “the state of climate finance in cities” in annual reports, because measuring impact can provide more confidence to investors. U.N.-Habitat will act as technical adviser, determining the type of project for particular needs in various cities. The Rockefeller Foundation will be a core member of this group, although in a still unknown capacity.

Capacity building

Joan Clos, executive director of U.N.-Habitat and former mayor of Barcelona, insisted the problem is not a lack of money but putting it in the right places.
“What is lacking is not funding, what is lacking is the quality of the project,” he told Devex, stressing that the real issue is making sure cities know how to get a slice of that money. “Financial institutions require that [urban infrastructure] projects have a clear business model, they are understandable, in order to be funded.”
We are in the “demand side of the equation” to build up the capacity of developing country cities, Clos said.

The head of U.N.-Habitat specified that “turning solid waste into energy is one of the most important group of projects.” For instance, landfills in developing countries are usually the highest emitters of methane gas, but urban governments there don’t have the technology to harness the waste and turn it into energy. The goal is to convince investors that they can make a return on that type of financial risk, which Clos noted can be done by showing them the potential for “maturity of long-term investment” in sanitation and transportation projects, to name just two.

CFLA, he said, will help create institutional settings to attract investors. These would be “innovative instruments … not necessarily on the financial side” in the form of new water, electricity or transport companies, legislative reform or utility subsidies. The field is open because each city has a unique set of issues despite a shared, overarching problem within different sectors.

“The scarce resource is the solid business plan” for infrastructure projects, and the initiative has been established to remedy just that, Clos pointed out.
CFLA will thus adopt a unique business and climate change-based approach to development, which has the potential to push more private sector engagement if investors see they can make a profit.

Top U.S. banks want to be a part of the initiative, and surely Bloomberg’s name and business acumen will also help attract investors. But it remains to be seen if governments, aid groups and the private sector will be able to work together to achieve the goal of helping cities develop low-carbon and carbon-resilient infrastructure to really make them the next battleground to combat climate change.

Source: www.devex.com
Picture: Johannesburg by SmartCityStudio

Smart Cities NL


Client: Minitstry of Infrastructure and the Environment Year: 2013
Project: For the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment SmartCityStudio produced a short film about the opportunities for Smart Cities in the Netherlands. The film has been screened at the High Level Meeting Smart Cities and the Dutch Innovation Congress in november 2013

Smart Talks

Client: Zuidvleugel Year: 2013
Output: Notebook with Principles for Smart Innercity Development.
Project: De Zuidvleugel – a cooperation between the municipalities of The Hague, Rotterdam, the city regions of Holland Rijnland, Drechtsteden, Midden-Holland, Stadsgewest Haaglanden, Stadsregio Rotterdam and the Province of South-Holland – promotes the sustainable development of the existing urban area of the southern part of the Randstad. SmartCityStudio investigates together with Doepel Strijkers what successful instruments have been recently developed by local authorities to create qualitative inner city projects in times with less resources. The investigation revolves around successful innovative cross-sectoral planning methods and best practices of open planning concepts that engage citizens, entrepreneurs and developers in the process. Smart Talks focuses on five urban projects in the Hague, Rotterdam, Gouda, Alphen a/d Rijn, Dordrecht. Five intensive workshops with the municipality will each be followed by five Smart talks with the aldermen of the cities on the effects of Smart planning methods on decision making. The project will be concluded with the publication of a useful ‘notebook’ and a final public symposium with the aldermen in October 2013. Picture: One of the casestudies: Laakhaven, the Hague, between the railway and the canal, source: DSO, gemeente Den Haag.

Shared Electric Car Network

Paris has been wired with a shared electric car network: Autolib’. Modelled after the successful Velib’ bike-sharing program Autolib’ has won over 70.000 clients since its launch in 2011. The program combines a sharing concept with an easy-to-use internet platform, an urban transit strategy and clean fuel technology. It fuses low tech and high tech, people and the city in one system. Although SmartCityStudio is very positive about the distribution and amount of stations implemented in the metropolitan area of Ile-de-France, this new urban ecology has not only been cheered. The criticasters somehow surprisingly come from the green party in Paris according to the Chicago Tribune:

“Conservatives intially attacked Autolib as a vanity project of the Socialists who control the Paris city hall, but have toned down their criticism as the scheme’s popularity has grown. …But Greens fear the 1,800-strong fleet may be drawing Parisians away from public transport rather than from their gas and diesel-powered cars…The Greens, who voted against Autolib while remaining part of Socialist Mayor Bertrand Delanoe’s majority, have asked for an audit on the scheme’s finances and its impact on traffic. “We remain very sceptical on Autolib,” said Denis Baupin, Green MP for Paris and transport councillor until last year.

As opposed to this criticism Autolib’s backers make some bold claims, according to the Chicago Tribune: “The project, they say, is breaking down social and physical barriers between the two million inhabitants of affluent central Paris and the other eight million who live in the “banlieues”, the often neglected high-rise suburbs outside the “peripherique” ring road. “There was a time when Parisians thought the banlieues were where they sent their rubbish and built council blocks or cemeteries,” Paris transport councillor Julien Bargeton said. “That relationship is changing, and Autolib shows that,” he told Reuters, estimating that about a third of all trips in the electric cars take place between Paris and its outskirts.”

Some information on the system itself. It is a public private partnership. The French Bollore Group invested in the fleet of Italian designed cars (Pininfarina) and spends 50 million euro’s annually to keep the fleet running. The City of Paris has invested 35 million in the charging points. As a customer you can choose between a yearly subscription (144 euro’s and 5 euro per half an hour), a monthly subscription (30 euro’s, 6 euro per half an hour), a weekly subscription (15 euro’s, 7 euro’s per half an hour) and a one day subscription (10 euro’s and 7 euro’s per half an hour). A total of 1750 cars has been registered in January 2013 and the Bollore Group’s goal is to deploy 3000 cars by 2013. By February 2013 the fleet had 65.000 subscribers and has driven a total cumulative of 15 million kilometer. There are over 650 charging stations in around 50 municipalities in the area of Ile-the-France with over 4000 charging points. The Bollore Company plans to expand the system on a short notice in Bordeaux and Lyon.

Sources: Wikipedia, Chicago Tribune, Paris, Autolib. Picture: Mairie de Paris

100.000 jobs for Almere

Client: Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment / Municipality of Almere
Year: 2012 Output: Spatial Economic Strategy / 5 Films
Project:
For the main exhibition of the 5th International Architecture Biennale in Rotterdam SmartCityStudio created five spatial economic strategies that conceptualise how 100.000 new jobs in Almere could be created. In dialogue with the municipality of the new town of Almere, entrepreneurs in the city and with the Dutch National government SmartCityStudio created five narratives around community wind power and algae production, small enterprises, healthcare, a special economic zone and an open economy. These Smart economic strategies should ‘liberate’ Almere from an outdated culture of control and create the conditions for citizens and entrepreneurs to act. SCS illustrated these strategies in five short films. Have a look at the film below or click one of the links.


1st Liberation: The Neighbourhood
2nd Liberation: Energy Production
3rd Liberation: Multinational Almere
4th Liberation: SEZ
5th Liberation: Healthcare

Source: SmartCityStudio Picture: EnergyRegion.NRW Films: SmartCityStudio with Crookedline

Smart Informal Territories lab

Client: City of São Paulo Year: 2009-2013
Project: Smart Informal Territories Lab Heliópolis (SITlab) works with the Prefeitura de Cidade de São Paulo, the local community and various ‘NGO’s’ on upgrading projects for the Favela Heliópolis where an estimated 190.000 people live without formally having an address. Inclusive planning instruments are essential for the upgrade of living standards and to solve underlying causes. The legalization of housing could help inhabitants to break out of a socio-economic spiral that is largely caused by having no legal address and by the extreme high costs of living in an ‘illegal city’. With SITlab Heliópolis the Universidade Presbiteriana MacKenzie São Paulo, Parsons the New School for Design and the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam work on plans and co-creative planning tools for the Favela that could be applied in other similar conditions in Brazil.

Open Data

Smart Cities can’t do without Open Data. The Open Data movement is still young but promising. Since the beginning of the Obama administration in 2009 the Open Government Initiative of the federal government opened up lots of data to the public for several reasons as clearly stated on the White House website: “In addition to catalyzing entrepreneurship, innovation, scientific discovery, and other public benefits, Open Data also helps ensure a transparent, accountable, and open government”. Cities as Chicago and New York City are best practices in how data could be made accessible for the public. Data like traffic counts, construction permits, public investment, licensing, schools, crime and more are downloadable in a variety of extensions. To catalyze the development of useful applications competitions like BIGAPPS NYC2013 challenges innovative entrepreneurs to add value to the data. BigApps is being organized by the New York City Economic Development Corp. and the The NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications (DoITT). BigApps NYC’s website about the challenge: “New York City believes that staying ahead of the innovation curve is essential to the City’s future, and that connecting with the software development community will foster new technology that improves the quality of life of New York’s residents and visitors.” Source: SmartCityStudio Picture: Chicago, 96th floor of the Hancock Center by Eric Ward

Testing grounds

The city of Eindhoven introduces the concept of ‘testing grounds’ as a means to open the city to anyone who can add to the development of the city often recalled as ‘Brainport’. In a recent conversation the author of this BLOG had with the alderwoman, which resigned from office just days ago (troubled because of a financial debacle in the removal of a trailer park in the municipality), she explains how the reduction of public regulations is part of a larger concept in which the municipality reinvents spatial planning. The idea that not the municipality ‘makes’ the city, but its citizens, its entrepreneurs and its higher education requires an ‘open’ city that could facilitate initiatives and that leaves the leading role in the improvement of an area or neighbourhood to anyone who fits that role the best. The power of this radical, but also ‘fashionable’ concept lies in its uncompromising way that it now effects legal regulations and urban governance.
Eindhoven’s ‘Action Plan 2030 – New Space 2013 – Fundamental revision of local spatial guidelines Municipality Eindhoven’ concludes that too many local policies and guidelines on top of national and European legislation block initiatives from private parties, citizens and even of the municipality itself. This fundamental change in the municipality to facilitate rather than to control ‘blueprint planning’ has been advocated recently by more municipalities in the Netherlands, but Eindhoven realizes this change will not happen overnight. A change of culture requires a process of learning. Therefore the municipality defined ‘testing grounds’. In those testing grounds the municipality lets go some of its regulation and is able to learn from the effects. The testing grounds cover a range of urban areas in order to learn about the effects in different settings.

Picture: Piet Hein Eek Laboratory and Workshop. In a former industrial complex in Eindhoven the designer Piet Hein Eek created a mix of workshop, showroom, shop and restaurant. This space of 10.000 m2 gives a powerful ‘boost’ to the regeneration of ‘Strijp R’ and is one of the many initiatives that is not initiated nor controlled by governmental policy but adds to the cities ambition to become a ‘Design Capital’ in the world. Eindhoven also houses the famous ‘Design Academy’. Sources: interview with ‘Mary Fiers’ former alderwoman of the city of Eindhoven, ‘Plan van Aanpak nieuwe ruimte 2013, gemeente Eindhoven’.

Community Mortgage



“In many poor and developing countries, land markets, prevailing policies, practices and institutions limit many of the working poor’s access to secure tenure and adequate land for housing. The Philippines is one such country, where patterns of urban growth and development make it difficult for the poor to remain in the cities where employment and other opportunities exist.”

“Through the Community Mortgage Program, the Government lends funds to informal settlers organized as a community association, making it possible for them to buy a piece of land that they can occupy permanently. The land can be on-site, presently occupied by the community, or an entirely new site to where the community intends to relocate. The CMP also offers loans for site improvement and house construction even if, in reality, the majority of CMP loans are issued for the acquisition of land. The CMP was designed to be a demand-driven approach; it is the community that needs assistance that decides to participate in the programme and initiates the process. In an on-site project, informal settlers can obtain ownership of the land they occupy by buying it through a community mortgage loan. One of the requirements is a subdivision plan, where the houses and plots are then re-aligned or re-blocked to conform to minimum subdivision standards. An off-site project, on the other hand, requires relocation to another area that the community chooses and purchases.”

“To be eligible for loans, informal settlers have to have a homeowners’ association (HOA) with at least nine households but no more than 200. After an association has complied with the minimum requirement and met certain criteria, the Social Housing Finance Corporation approves the mortgage and advances payment to the landowner. The group loan is payable monthly for up to 25 years at 6 per cent interest per annum. The land to be purchased serves as collateral for the loan. The HOA is considered to be the borrower.Throughout the process, it is responsible for preparing documentary requirements, negotiating with the landowner, collecting the monthly amortizations of itsmember-beneficiaries, and ensuring that their financial obligations to the lending institution are met. The HOA also enforces sanctions on community members, and oversees the re-blocking and enforcement of the subdivision plan.”

“The Philippines is the fourth most populous nation in East Asia. Growing at an average rate of 2 per cent annually, the population is currently 92 million, of which an estimated 63 per cent live in urban areas. Metro Manila, or the National Capital Region (NCR), is the largest urban centre in the Philippines. At present, its 16 cities and one urban municipality together had an estimated population of 12 million. If the current trend prevails, the Philippines is projected to be 70 per cent urban in less than a decade with an urban population of around 86 million. Unregulated urban growth and acute poverty have resulted in severe housing problems. Of the roughly 10 million Filipino families living in cities today, an estimated 3.1 million lack security of tenure with 2.7 informal settler households in Metro Manila alone according to data from the National Housing Authority in 2007.” Source: Innovative urban tenure in the Philippines, summary report, UN-Habitat / Global Land Tool Network. Picture: Christoph Mohr

City Deals

In the UK cities have gained more power and control over their own urban planning. This decentralization of power offers them the possibility to invest in infrastructure and regeneration projects. They can claim future tax receipts of their local businesses directly from the state if they come up with a plan.

At least two of six key principles of the City Deals put forward by Whitehall in London are Smart: Putting cities in the driving seat: cities, not Whitehall, are best placed to understand the economic opportunities and challenges they face. Many have already taken the initiative and begun to develop credible economic strategies, and these will be the starting point for our work with cities. Focusing on the wider metro area: Encouraging deals across the wider economic area has clear merits in terms of scale, geographical reach and economic governance. Deals will be negotiated with groups of authorities across a functional economic area.” The first wave of City Deals are being made with: Greater Birmingham, Bristol City Region, Leeds City Region, Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester City, Newcastle City Region, Nottingham City Region, Sheffield City Region. The second wave will invite twenty other cities and their wider areas. Picture: Manchester Skyline by Andrew Brooks