The Asia Pacific Cities Summit (APCS) is an event initiated by Brisbane City Council. According to the APCS website, It was first held in 1996 and has been held biennially since 1999, the venue alternating between the City of Brisbane and cities awarded to host the event in the Asia Pacific Region. It is recognised as the region’s leading business and government forum for managing cities and urban development.
The 2015 APCS was a great opportunity to learn more about future trends and issues affecting cities in the Asia Pacific region. I was one of the youth organisers for the Young Professionals' Forum; an ongoing feature of the summit that provides a great professional development opportunity for emerging private and public sector leaders from the Asia Pacific aged between 18 and 30.
This year our objective was to propose solutions, which were cost neutral, or revenue positive to city administrations. There were four themes we explored: global cities, future cities, digital cities and cities for people. Here are the best solutions for each theme (in my opinion):
For global cities, we suggested activating void spaces in order to give cities a unique character and distinct feel. Activating void spaces refers to making use of unused common spaces such as car parking lots, or un-leased commercial space for the function of business, entertaining, markets, urban farming, community events or shared office space and retail space for entrepreneurs. In Brisbane for example, the Red Hill Markets have activated the abandoned Ithaca Creek TAFE car parking lot. Utilising this space has a positive footfall and commercial flow on affect to the Broncos Rugby League Club, bowls club and community arts centre, all located in the same street.
In a report last year, the United Nations stated that currently 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas; this is expected to increase to 66 per cent by 2050. The urbanisation trend is increasing the amount of food needed within cities for consumption. We therefore proposed the transformation of urban rooftops into thriving food farms. This solution could potentially reduce prices for consumers, as the cost of transporting food within the city would be lower when compared to food travelling from outside the city. It is also a cost-neutral solution for city governments because, there are already companies in the private sector providing similar services.
According to their website, Bright Farms develops urban greenhouses to supply fresh produce to grocers. The company finances, builds and operates hydroponic greenhouses on or near the rooftops of grocery stores. Based on a business model that’s been successful for the renewable energy industry, it funds construction of greenhouses and signs 10-year, fixed-price purchase agreements with supermarkets.
As the so-called “digital generation”, it didn’t take us long to see digital technology’s potential in the urban planning industry. As such, we proposed that city governments should partner up with the private sector to exchange data for the benefit of both parties. In Rio De Janeiro for example, planners there are watching the aggregated data feeds of thousands of smartphones being walked or driven around a city, thanks to two popular travel apps, Waze and Moovit. The goal is traffic management, and it involves swapping data for data. In return for its user updates, Waze for instance gets real-time information from Rio on highways, from road sensors and even from cameras.
Cities for People:
With more and more people living in cities, city governments are under increasing pressure to supply enough energy. We found this next solution very innovative; it’s called footfall harvesting.
According to theguardian, every day, hundreds of commuters and shoppers in the east London neighbourhood of West Ham cross the elevated pedestrian walkway close to the underground station. Few probably notice the springiness beneath their feet. Fewer still connect that five-millimetre flex in the rubber surface to the powering of the streetlights above. The paved flooring is decked with smart tiles that capture the kinetic energy from pedestrians’ footsteps and convert it into electricity. Pavegen, the UK firm behind the innovation, has installed a similar system at London’s Heathrow airport, among other international locations.
For more updates and articles check out: