Local government eyes social media for feedback

Work is underway on a new digital platform that will enable councils to capture and analyse conversations on social media as a means of improving community consultation on major projects.

The study involving two councils and a team of urban planners, policy experts and data analysts aims to ensure the “citizen voice” helps to drive smart city initiatives.

NSW’s City of Canada Bay and Queensland’s Logan City Council are participating in the project being led by the University of Sydney’s Smart Urbanism Lab and supported by the Commonwealth’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Program.

While there is sometimes a perception that smart city initiatives are led by technology, Dr Tooran Alizadeh, director of urban design at Sydney University’s school of architecture, said the project aimed to find a new way of “crowd sourcing” opinion on key local government initiatives.

“The conversations about the hot urban projects of the day are already happening in the public online domain, and we are essentially gathering them, categorising them and feeding them back to local governments,” she told Government News.

Sydney University’s Smart Urbanism Lab is leading the project.

The project, which involves the development of algorithms and tools to capture this information, will produce two dashboards – one for local government and one for the public.

“The fact we’re now building the citizen voice means we have a responsibility to feed that back to the public and tell people we heard them… it’s useful for individual members of the community to know the diversity of opinion,” Dr Alizadeh said.

The study will scrutinise social media feedback around two key projects for each of the participating local governments: Cronulla Park and the Yarrabilba development for Logan, and Parramatta Road and Five Dock for Canada Bay.

The dashboard will be fed by the live conversations happening on Twitter and Facebook, as well as those captured in reader comments on news sites’ coverage of the projects.

“It will be useful on two levels,” Dr Alizadeh said.

“The first is the live conversation which is important if they have a sudden issue or problem. The second is a longitudinal benefit because the longer we collect the data the more we will hopefully be able to make sense of the things that trigger reactions over the life of a project,” she said.

People’s attitudes towards urban projects and issues are usually dynamic, “so the only way we can make sense of them and how they change is if you keep an eye on it over a longer period,” she said.

Dr Alizadeh said the project would utilise the diverse skillset within the newly established Smart Urbanism Lab, which has staff expertise in urban planning, geography, policy making and big data.

An early version of the dashboard is expected in the next two to three months for the participating local governments to comment on, while the project is slated to conclude next May.

Logan City Council’s innovation committee chairperson, councillor Laurie Smith said social media presented a new opportunity to increase the reach of community consultation on planning and development.

“This gives residents another option to have their say on how their city develops and to feel included in council decision making,” she said.

Originally Published by Government News, continue reading here.

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Join us at the 11th International Urban Design Conference

The 2018 International Urban Design Conference will be held at the SMC Conference and Function Centre, Sydney, NSW over 12 – 13 November.

The conference will showcase innovations in projects and research embracing and creating transformational change in urban environments.

Topics will include exploring the potential of mixed use places, spaces and precincts/districts, urban design best practice, designing safety into a city, future proofing, connectivity and design quality outcomes.

The conference will also explore the links which create the concrete physicality of the built environment, the complex social, economic, political and cultural processes through which the physical urban form is produced and consumed.

Applications to Present and Registration are NOW OPEN!

Conference Topics Include:

  • Potential of mixed use places, spaces and precincts/districts
  • Regulating urban design
  • Safe city design
  • Transport
  • Design quality
  • Digital

Individuals and organisations are invited to submit an abstract (summary of your presentation) to deliver an oral presentation or poster presentation which addresses one or more of the conference topics. The abstract should be no more than 300 words and outline the aims, contents and conclusions of the presentation. Abstracts should not include tables, figures or references. Please also submit 3 key learnings of your presentation, as well as a 100 word biography of each presenting author.

All proposals will be reviewed by the Program Committee. Presentations will be selected to provide a Program that offers a comprehensive and diverse treatment of issues related to the Conference topics.

For more information on the 2018 International Urban Design Conference, topics, to submit your application to present, registration and more please visit the conference website at urbandesignaustralia.com.au

Present at the 11th International Urban Design Conference

The 2018 International Urban Design Conference will be held at the SMC Conference and Function Centre, Sydney, NSW over 12 – 13 November.

The conference will showcase innovations in projects and research embracing and creating transformational change in urban environments.

Topics will include exploring the potential of mixed use places, spaces and precincts/districts, urban design best practice, designing safety into a city, future proofing, connectivity and design quality outcomes.

The conference will also explore the links which create the concrete physicality of the built environment, the complex social, economic, political and cultural processes through which the physical urban form is produced and consumed.

Applications to Present and Registration are NOW OPEN!

Conference Topics Include:

  • Potential of mixed use places, spaces and precincts/districts
  • Regulating urban design
  • Safe city design
  • Transport
  • Design quality
  • Digital

Individuals and organisations are invited to submit an abstract (summary of your presentation) to deliver an oral presentation or poster presentation which addresses one or more of the conference topics. The abstract should be no more than 300 words and outline the aims, contents and conclusions of the presentation. Abstracts should not include tables, figures or references. Please also submit 3 key learnings of your presentation, as well as a 100 word biography of each presenting author.

All proposals will be reviewed by the Program Committee. Presentations will be selected to provide a Program that offers a comprehensive and diverse treatment of issues related to the Conference topics.

For more information on the 2018 International Urban Design Conference, topics, to submit your application to present, registration and more please visit the conference website at urbandesignaustralia.com.au

Why do some Sydney councils encourage urban beekeeping but avoid handling complaints?

Sydney has seen an explosion in urban beekeeping with a 20 per cent increase in the number of people taking up the hobby in just a couple of years.

That’s great for the environment, with bees our most valuable pollinators for agricultural crops and even urban backyards.

But what if you have an allergy or reaction to bee stings, or a backyard pool where bees like to get their water and you need to make a complaint?

Tony Deguara lives in Sydney’s inner west with a backyard bee enthusiast neighbour over his back fence.

Tony told Curious Sydney his neighbour started out with two beehives, but the number increased to six meaning he was living next to thousands of bees as a result.

He asked: “Why do Sydney councils encourage urban bee keeping but appear to have no regulations to manage the hobby? Consequently if you have problems you have to go to the Department of Primary Industries [DPI]”.

That was the question ABC News in Sydney was asked to investigate through Curious Sydney, our series that reports on stories based on your questions.

Urban beekeeping in Sydney has grown rapidly over the last couple of years.

“I started having major problems with my neighbour — not because he was keeping bees but because he was keeping what I thought was an inordinately high number of bees,” Mr Deguara said.

“I made an enquiry with the local council to find out but they really didn’t want to know anything about it. They didn’t have any guidelines or regulations in place. They didn’t prosecute and they didn’t set up any situation where you could discuss this with your neighbour.”

Tony has a bad allergic reaction to bees. While not anaphylactic, they leave him with infections and swellings that last for weeks.

After the last sting, an infection in his foot required antibiotics.

When he asked his neighbour to reduce the number of beehives, initially his neighbour complied, but over time the number of hives crept up again.

Tony sought advice from his local Inner West Council to help him manage the issue, but the council redirected him to the DPI.

Curious Sydney found that the answer to Tony’s question is complex. Councils can manage bees if they choose to classify them under the companion animal act like pet dogs and cats, but each council has different rules.

Originally Published by ABC News, continue reading here.

Australian cities are far from being meccas for walking and cycling

Australian city planners are seeking ways to make cities better for walking and cycling.

Walkability and cyclability are attractive and “green” urban amenities. They reduce pollution and improve health. They are also economic assets.

In developing countries, active transport is key to improving accessibility for the urban poor. In developed countries, the walkable and cyclable city can be a magnet for attracting and retaining the “creative class”.

In Australia, plans and projects are being developed to extend pedestrian malls and cycling paths, restrict car traffic, remove street parking and install more lighting.

Have these efforts paid off?

Yes and no. Recently released 2016 Census data reveal some disappointing commuting patterns in Australian cities.

Across metropolitan areas, typically plagued by sprawl and segregated land uses, cars still dominate. Car-based commuting rates have decreased by only 1-2%.

Public transport use remains relatively low. Even in Sydney, it captures only about one-quarter of commute trips.

Since 2011, Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin have made modest gains (2-4%) in public transport use. Brisbane has had an incremental decline. Public transport use is stagnant in Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and Canberra.

Meanwhile, rates of walking and cycling remain constant and low – even in smaller centres such as Hobart, Darwin and Canberra. Even in the most “cycling-oriented” places (Darwin and Canberra), only about 3% of commuters cycle.

City-level data tell a different story. Here, walking is more popular than at the wider metro level. This reflects the mono-centric nature of Australian cities, where most jobs are located in the CBD.

In larger cities, between a quarter and a third of the population walks to work. Similar proportions of commuters use public transport. Brisbane is an exception, with less walking, lower public transport use and much more driving than Sydney, Melbourne or Perth. Hobart and Darwin have low walking rates and are very car-dependent, which is surprising considering their small size.

Originally Published by The Conversation, continue reading here.