August 29, 2015

MIT project uses sensors to measure pedestrian appeal of urban space

The MIT Media Lab's Placelet project will "track how pedestrians move through a particular space," according to The Atlantic's CityLab. Researchers are developing "a network of sensors that will track the scale and speed of pedestrians, as well as vehicles, over long periods of time. The sensors, which they are currently testing in downtown Boston, will also track the 'sensory experience' by recording the noise level and air quality of that space."

February 4, 2015

These strategies really work to bring new life to aging urban downtowns

Don't miss this great roundup over at Journalist's Resources on what truly works for revitalizing urban cores. Among the proven strategies for communities large and small:

Start with core residential development -- "an influx of new residents encourages and supports the creation of new amenities" such as stores and schools.

Create "viable neighborhoods" that include things besides housing, such as retail, restaurants, cultural attractions and good transportation links to nearby centers for jobs and entertainment/culture.

"Develop pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure. Appealing to car-free residents and visitors has been found to have social, health and economic benefits — for example, a 2012 study from Portland State University found that they spent more at local businesses than motorists." As I've been saying for years, creating an appealing pedestrian streetscape matters. Adding greenery helps too.

"Contain sprawl. Researchers of a 2007 study find that successful containment of sprawl and suburbanization was positively associated with strong economic and physical regeneration of city centers and downtowns. "

Read the full roundup at Urban regeneration: What recent research says about best practices.