Urban Planet: TrafficCOM, Planning in Ecuador and Philadelphia

Urban Planet is a daily roundup of blogs from around the world dealing specifically with urban environments. We’ll be on the lookout for websites outside the country that approach themes related to urban experiences and issues.

• Meet TrafficCOM. This portable device allows users to measure the volume, rate, and speed of traffic and upload the data for immediate sharing. Compared to average traffic-counting devices which can cost thousands of dollars, TrafficCOM, at $139, is an affordable solution for community groups who need data to effectively advocate on transportation issues. Any collected data can be uploaded and mapped on the TrafficCOM website. The device was developed by Aurash Khawarzad, a New York-based urban planner at Change Administration, and Ted Ullrich, an engineer and industrial designer at Tomorrow Lab. (The Atlantic Cities)

• When New York City’s Commissioner of City Planning, Amanda Burden created an urban design division within her department in 2007, she hired designer Alexandros Washburn to head it up. According to the 50-year-old designer, he much more concerned with constructing liveable public space, than he is with impressive buildings. His recent work includes flood mitigation and adaptation measures as New York City prepares to face a changing climate reality. (The New York Times)

• Ecuador recently adopted a new planning system which attempts to bring order to local planning and budgeting procedures. Though small cities are growing rapidly, there are few professionals with the skills to complete these complex processes with the result that few local governments have completed a development plan. At the same time, the challenges these cities face – informal settlements and poverty – are enormous. (Polis)

• Philadelphia’s Washington Avenue has traditionally been an industrial space. Home to warehouses, wholesalers and showrooms, the Avenue is about to undergo a transition to a mixed use future and this has many residents worried. The City’s planning commission is considering labeling the Avenue as a Design Hub. Current residents fear that the mixed use designation will increase conflict with residential neighbours. But as Allyn Gaestel at the Next American City points out, other neighbourhoods that have undergone this transition (such as Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighbourhood) could provide useful guidance.

Image from The Atlantic Cities

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