sobra na, tama na

(I know. I know. I'm ranting. I'll be over it soon.)



The Edushi interface, showing Shanghai riverfront (the Bund)

Detail from Shanghai map

(Eugene, have you seen this one?)

Forget getting Metro Manila on GoogleEarth or GoogleMaps, LiveSearch or even OpenStreetMap. Call in the Chinese and ask them to put our metropolis on Edushi.com (Ch.).

Found them via Digital Urban.

The graphic detail is nothing short of delicious. Check out the map of Shanghai. More cities listed here (if you can read Chinese).

Of course it also helps that the orthogonal view looks like it's straight out of SimCity.

The big advantage China has is that the military, for security reasons, keeps full autocad models of ALL the cities (don't ask me how I know), so it's easy to roll something like this out.

Chinese cities are also addicted to scale models and nearly every planning office will have a whole hall dedicated to a scale model.

Makes my mapgeek mouth water.

new rules

New Rule #1:

If you are planning a military putsch but don't have the balls to try to take the queen in the palace, don't take a hotel. Try to take a significant installation, like say a petroleum depot or a TV station.

Why a hotel? So you have comfy beds and a kitchen staff? How soft are the underbellies of these adventurists? Why does it always have to be a hotel?

New Rule #2:

They should be frog marched out of there in hoods and chainlinks. No pussyfooting. No media plays. You wanted to be "heroes?" You wanted to "take a stand," suffer the consequences.

If they want to run for public office, they can use their frog march pictures.

New Rule #3:

You know they want to topple the government, why negotiate? Send in the damned sharpshooters and take them out. If we're going to have a siege, then let's have a SPLENDID SIEGE! Blood on both sides. Let's see how popular adventurism gets in the barracks after they shoot each other.

What are you worried about? The national image? The morons already took it down.

New Rule #4:

No more namby-pamby pardons. No more.



This, from yesterday's BusinessWorld Online*

RP positions as region’s innovation hub

THE PHILIPPINES is positioning itself as Asia’s innovation hub that can be competitive with the rest of the world, by institutionalizing a culture of innovation across multiple sectors.

The country’s positioning strategy is embodied in an 18-page document summarizing the country’s National Innovation Strategy which was launched yesterday at the country’s first National Innovation Summit, a product of months of collaboration among government, business, academe and civil society.

The document, entitled "Filipinnovation," was presented by summit organizers yesterday to President Gloria M. Arroyo, who symbolically launched the strategy with a 3D presentation similar to popular game Second Life. "Filipinnovation" is also the brand for the country as it aims to compete with Asian neighbors and other regions.

(note: "3D presentation similar to popular game Second Life" -really?)

"‘Filipinnovation’ brings forward a distinct brand for the Philippines as an Asian innovation hub, different [from] — yet as competitive as — its Asian neighbors and striving to be at part with leading innovation regions such as North America and Europe," the document read.

At least you've got to hand it to the proponents for innovating a monicker. "Filipinnovation" -takes a while to get it to roll off your tongue.

There is a "four-point national innovation strategy " that focuses on
  • strengthening human capital, from primary to advanced learning;
  • supporting business incubation and acceleration efforts;
  • regenerating the innovation environment mainly through policy; and
  • promoting a culture of innovation by upgrading the Filipino mindset
So what do I think is missing? Anyone, anyone? (Hint: I talk about it a lot in this blog.)

CITIES! You cannot be a "hub" without thinking of the physical. Place is important to culture and to innovation.

The data is clear on this: cities are centers of innovation. So if you want to promote a "culture of innovation, " you've got to work on your cities.

Here's a pdf (52 kb) copy of a report by Forman, Goldfarb and Greenstein on why innovation happens better in cities. They show that:
"establishments located in large urban areas innovate as if they face fewer constraints and have lower costs. We also find a symmetric role for internal capabilities: establishments that are in firms with a greater number of IT personnel invested in WEI technology more frequently, as did those with prior experience with related non-Internet applications. Overall, we conclude that the marginal contribution of internal capabilities to investment and co-invention in a process innovation is lower for establishments in cities than for establishments elsewhere."
Cities also increase productivity. CEOsforCities cites this article in Psychology Today that says:

For every doubling in city size, there's a 14 to 27 percent increase in productivity per worker, and psychologists and others are trying to explain why. They believe the gains "can be linked to having more and different people to meet, and more meeting places—parks, coffee shops, parties, or simply the sidewalk...

"City dwellers have more places to hang out, and they tend to know more people. Meredith Rolfe, a political sociologist at Oxford, studies social networks through large-sample surveys. While there are only small variations in the numbers of close friends people report having, she's found that 'acquaintance networks'—the so-called 'weak ties' that are most helpful in finding a job or stock tip—range wildly in size, from 500 to 10,000, depending in part on methodology and in part on whether a person lives in a city."

Promoting a culture of innovation is the right goal, but to think it's all about "changing culture" is mistaken. Culture arises from place and interaction. The culture of innovation grows best in the city.

Pay attention to place first, create the scene -and then the magic happens.

(Also check out this excellent presentation from Joseph Cortright on why cities should focus on innovation as a driver for growth.)

* -Btw, BW's finally seen the light and their online content is available for free!

Image credit: "Just full of ideas" by Cayusa


So, we're the 19th most expensive city for expatriates:

Manila has been found to be Asia’s 19th costliest city for expatriates, according to the latest twice-yearly survey by human resources firm ECA International that surveyed 39 select cities in the region.

Jakarta was the 11th most expensive place and Bangkok was in 18th place, while Hanoi landed in 32nd place — more expensive than Kuala Lumpur which was in 33rd place and just a notch above the Laotian capital Vientianne.

Islamabad was the least expensive among the Asian cities surveyed at number 39, while Seoul was judged Asia’s costliest city for expatriates.

We're cheaper than Jakarta and Bangkok, but more expensive than Hanoi or K.L. (What makes KL so cheap?)

As far as Asia goes, we're the 29th most expensive city to live in, but we're 191st world wide.

How do they compute the cost of living?
ECA International’s cost of living indices are calculated based upon surveys carried out annually in March and September using a basket of day-to-day goods and services. The data used above refers to ECA’s September 2007 survey.

Certain living costs such as accommodation, utilities (electricity, gas, water costs), car purchase and school fees are not included in the survey. Such items can make a significant difference to expenses but are usually compensated for separately in expatriate packages.

This comparison of cost of living was calculated on a base composed of various developed countries and is used to reflect an international lifestyle. Other indices available from ECA reflect specific city-to-city comparisons, and different levels of shopping efficiency.

I bet you it's the cost of electricity that's driving our rank up because we're still low in the list as far as the Bigmac index is concerned.

the case for the pedicab

So, this is my first post on The City Fix. Recognize parts of it? -UDC

Pedicabs like this one above are found throughout the world.
Photo by drs2biz from Flickr.

To celebrate World Town Planning Day, the Ontario Planners Institute called on planners, towns and cities to “start planning ahead for a future where the car is a thing of the past.” Although it’s difficult to imagine a post-car city, we only have to look back to recent history to realize that cities are fluid, transforming over time, often based on the dominant form of transport. Because most of our cities emerged during the age of the automobile, it should come as no surprise that most of our cities have been shaped for and by the car. But this wont always be the case. The rising cost of oil and the environmental and human cost of congestion and air pollution is turning the logic of car-dominated cities on its head. As we explore options for a post-car future, it’s instructive to turn to the developing world, where cars still haven’t flooded the streets, and examine one of the most ubiquitous and green-friendly forms of transportation: the pedicab.

In our automobile driven cities, the pedicab occupies the bottom rung of the transportation ladder, frowned upon by both rich and poor alike. Where buses are seen as undisciplined nuisances with which cars must begrudgingly share the road, the pedicab is viewed as a backwards mutant not even deserving of the asphalt. Even pollution spewing autorickshaws and tuktuks are preferred to the pedicab. Some even refer to pedicabs as “road roaches” because they scamper and scatter in and out of traffic like cockroaches in the light. But as far as green cred goes, all other modes of transport pale in comparison to these human powered vehicles. Pedicabs generate no emissions and produce no waste, unlike cars and buses, with their heavy metals from used batteries that leech into the soil.

As far as low barriers to entry, the pedicab business is one the Bottom of the Pyramid folks at Nextbillion would love. You could literally buy hundreds of pedicabs for the price of one bus. Plus all building materials can be sourced locally, so there’s no need to import spark plugs or oil filters or engines. What’s more, there’s no need to buy oil that supports oppressive petrocracies. And the technology is so simple that self-repair is the rule rather than the exception. Bike infrastructure can help power local economies, as it has in Portland, Oregon, where an entire industry revolving around bicycling has emerged.

Pedicabs are unsafe only when they mix with other vehicles, affording little protection to the driver and the riders. And perhaps that’s the design challenge that our cities and city planners could solve. It is clear that our streets were not designed for pedicabs which must vie for a slice of the road with fast moving buses, trucks and SUVs. But what if cities built a city-wide green network anchored on shared roads for bikes, pedicabs, and pedestrians? Cities could set apart secondary and tertiary roads and designate them as green ways. They could redesign the road right-of-way to be friendlier to pedestrians, bikes and pedicabs. We could create a modified version of the Woonerf street to build alternative transport infrastructure that’s friendly to pedicabs.

The most bike friendly cities in the world are leading the way, engineering their streets to encourage biking. But these western cities are building bike infrastructure only for single riders. Perhaps the global south can lead the way with public transport built on human-powered service. The pedicab is the perfect place to start!

(Cross posted from: The City Fix)




Is that why I only have a dozen readers?


(Watch out when you do the readability link. They throw in an ad into the code.)



Eugene sent me a link to this project.

The mission of 19.20.21 is a multi-year, multimedia initiative to collect, organize and package information on population's effect regarding urban and business planning and its impact on consumers around the world. This 5+ year initiative will deliver results via 5 channels: online, television, print, exhibits and seminars. This project will include 10 worldwide partners and appropriate affiliates.

Here's to hoping that Metro Manila gets into the final 19.


city fix

So, I've been accepted as a contributor to Embarq's The City Fix blog. They'll run my first post next week.

The BIG IDEA behind The City Fix is:

"...cities do not have to be chaotic, contaminated, and clogged with cars. With the appropriate planning and design, cities can accommodate the current influx of new people while also improving the quality of life for their residents. By focusing on the intersection of transportation, design, environmental science, and urban planning, this blog examines the myriad ways that cities can adapt and ensure that the current wave of urbanization is good for humanity and the environment." (emphasis mine-udc)

Which is exactly the gospel I want to preach to Metro Manila.

EMBARQ, a leading international resource on sustainable transport, is a project of the World Resources Institute.


something to think about

This one from Robert Neurwith's SquatterCities blog:

Mega Cities expert Janice Perlman makes a profound statement:

"The international funding agencies of investment institutions need to give more to urban development and less to rural development," said Perlman. "I’ve argued that the people who come to the city [and live in squatter developments] are the cream of the crop with the highest ambitions and aspirations. If given the chance, they would build middle-class communities. You can’t blame people for polluting the watershed if you don’t provide them with water infrastructure."

Perlman advocates integrating squatter developments into the surrounding neighborhoods. Rather than demolishing these self-made communities, she recommends connecting them to the city’s infrastructure by incorporating paved streets, steps, plazas and new facades as well as offering services such as clean water, sewage connections and electricity. If visually they’re more like the surrounding neighborhoods, these needy areas will be more likely to interact with the middle class nearby, she said.
Of course we've been doing piecemeal sites and services upgrading since the 70s but it's only lately that the World Bank has realized that the urban poor merit as much attention as the rural poor.

Let me repeat Perlman's thesis:

"the people who come to the city [and live in squatter developments] are the cream of the crop with the highest ambitions and aspirations."

Think about it. Think about the entrepreneurial mindset required to leave a farm and try your luck in the city. You can argue that a hand-to-mouth existence in subsistence farms gives a lot of reasons for decamping to the city. Still, it requires a lot of courage and more importantly, an ability to imagine a different future to take that leap.

I bet that leap takes as much courage as risking a future working in another country to provide a better future for your family.

Maybe we need to rethink our biases about squatters.

Image credit: Jubilee by sendusout

what BRT looks like

If you've got ten minutes, here's a good intro on what BRT can do for a megacity like Mexico.

It comes across as a little bit of hard sell but it could just be lost in translation.

Can you imagine this in our megacity?


step one

So we've talked about how more people in Metro Manila take public transportation than drive private cars; about how prioritizing public transit, focusing on moving people, is a vastly more efficient use of our roads than just working on moving vehicles; and about how our public transit woes are tied down to the boundary system that governs the business.

The common theme in the discussion about those posts was that we really need the political will to get past the vested interests of the transport unions, to transcend the myopia of the traffic managers and to get national or local governments to pay attention.

So how do we build up the political will?

As the maxim goes, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease."

For too long the discussion of transportation issues have been nothing more than the back and forth between vendors (operators and drivers) and regulators about the right fare level or about who has traffic authority over buses and jeepneys. No one seems to be looking out for the rights of the passengers.

Our investments in mass transit seem to be all about big business interests, or clearing traffic for car riding elite or speculative real estate deals. While the public winds up with high cost projects with badly located and badly designed stations and disconnected rail networks. Who speaks for the customers and the taxpayers?

Who speaks for the people who have no option but to take public transit?

I think it's time we take the advice of WorldChanging. I think it's time that the patient 78% of Metro Manila citizens who take public transit demand what's due them.

I think it's time for a Metro Manila Transit Riders Union.

It's time to ask:

  • Should public transit riders have to spend more time traveling and in traffic? (Be it because of a traffic bias for cars and bad PUV driving behavior.)

  • The government keeps spending on expanding roads, why don't they spend on public transit facilities? Like better bus stops and jeepneys stops. Or better connections between modes. Or better sidewalks.

  • Why doesn't the government implement strict quality standards so that public transit riders don't have to suffer in dirty buses with barely functional airconditioning or super squeezed in seats?

  • Why shouldn't public transit be more efficient than private transportation?

My contention has always been that we need an Urban Coalition of civic and business leaders that will initiate a metro-wide discussion on urban planning issues. It may take a while to get that coalition off the ground. Starting a Metro Manila Public Transit Riders Union would be a good way to build up momentum among stakeholders, could be a good pre-cursor to the Urban Coalition and should not take as much energy to get off the ground.

We could start with colloquia in our schools, or meetings in our parishes, or informal lunch discussions about our own public transit woes in our workplaces. We could begin with a forum on transportation and invite speakers in our civic clubs. We could start a website with a sign-up sheet. We could begin by talking to our co-passengerss in our daily FX ride.

I know our civic leaders seem to be focused on bigger fish but I wish someone could find the energy to take this initiative as this addresses a very real issue that confronts the poor* in our cities. This could very well be step one in the path towards urban happiness in our metropolis.

Any takers?

Image credit: Indie Fist
by Sparktography

* -You would have to be very myopic not to see that inefficient public transport is an integral dimension of the effects of poverty on our families. The father or the mother who cannot afford a car must pay for that everyday in an extra hour or more spent in traffic, time spent away from their homes and their children.


one sim city per child

SimCity on an OLPC to help kids understand cities. What's not to love?

This one via Slashdot

SimHacker writes

"Electronic Arts has donated the original 'classic' version of Will Wright's popular SimCity game to the One Laptop Per Child project. SimCity is the epitome of constructionist educational games, and has been widely used by educators to unlock and speed-up the transformational skills associated with creative thinking. It's also been used in the Future City Competition by seventh- and eighth-grade students to foster engineering skills and inspire students to explore futuristic concepts and careers in engineering. OLPC SimCity is based on the X11 TCL/Tk version of SimCity for Unix developed and adapted to the OLPC by Don Hopkins, and the GPL open source code will soon be released under the name
"Micropolis", which was SimCity's original working title. SJ Klein, director of content for the OLPC, called on game developers to create 'frameworks and scripting environments — tools with which children themselves could create their own content.' The long term agenda of the OLPC SimCity project is to convert SimCity into a scriptable Python module, integrate it with the OLPC's Sugar user interface and Cairo rendering library. Eventually they hope to apply
Seymour Papert's and Alan Kay's ideas about constructionist education and teaching kids to program."


green bridges

Dear Kuya B,*

When I first heard that QC was building a tunnel so that pedestrians could simply walk from QC Hall to the Quezon Memorial Park, what entered my mind was an underground passage for CARS as they turn from East Ave towards Kalayaan/Philcoa, that would effectively allow the park to extend its green area all the way to front steps of city hall.

Alas(kado), I was obviously dreaming.

But then I thought, if the idea is to accommodate the wishes of park users, couldn't we at least still allow them to cross above ground rather than below? The objective, I would have thought, is not just to allow for some convenience, but rather to actually create space -- open and CONTIGUOUS -- with the ultimate effect of even making pedestrians oblivious to traffic flowing below them. Couldn't we have had something like this instead? (See two attached photos.)

I'm sure the tunnel is already serving its purpose and that many residents are already benefiting from not having to play Frogger on the eight-lane elliptical road. But for future reference -- say, when we start considering linking the Quezon Memorial grounds to Parks and Wildlife (yes, I'm too old to call it Ninoy Aquino) and/or the Heart Center compound on the other sides of the circle -- wouldn't this be a better alternative? Here, for example, you can actually picture yourself biking across.

Wouldn't this have the better desired effect of expanding the one green oasis remaining in the city, rather than simply allowing us all the privilege of tunneling our way to what would still feel like a separate island?

Finally, wouldn't a pedestrian bridge be cheaper than a tunnel? I also imagine there's only so much landscaping you can do undergound, even assuming the tunnel ends up being well-lit, well-maintained, and clear of vendors/snatchers.


P.S. I took these pictures in Buenos Aires, and that's really what I wanted to tell you.

Dear Roby,

I'm all for your idea. Keeping pedestrians on the ground plane is actually safer as underground tunnels require security. They also cost more as far as maintenance goes (water extraction pumps, lighting, cleaning).

The choice of a tunnel to give pedestrians "safe" access to the circle betrays our elitist bias for the automobile and how behind we are as far as traffic management theory is concerned.

We're learning more and more that the key to efficient roads and road use is to slow down traffic, not speed it up. In fact, lowering the road speed to 30 km/h smooths out traffic and increases road carrying capacity:
Evidence from countries and cities that have introduced a design speed of 30 kilometers per hour (about 18.5 mph) -- as many of the European Union nations are doing -- shows that slower speeds improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.

"This surprises many people, although mathematically it's not surprising," Hamilton-Baillie says. "The reason for this is that your speed of journey, the ability of traffic to move smoothly through the built environment, depends on performance of your intersections, not on your speed of flow between intersections." And intersections, he says, work much more efficiently at lower speeds. "At 30 miles per hour, you frequently need control systems like traffic signals, which themselves mean that the intersection is not in use for significant periods of time. Whereas at slower speeds vehicles can move much more closely together and drivers can use eye contact to engage and make decisions. So you get much higher capacity."

Check out this presentation on road diets and urban livability from Parsons-Brinckerhoff (via StreetsBlog).

Your idea of connecting all of QC's parks via a green infrastructure is spot on. And many cities have discovered the power of pedestrian networks in reviving commerce, improving city navigability, enhancing civic pride and creating livable urban environments.

Since, between the two of us, you are the professional journalist/ columnist/ opinion leader, you probably have a better grasp of how we can get these ideas onto the radar of our mayors and our national government.


*btw, I only Roby A.'s sweet wife (Joy F.) call me "kuya" -since she was one of my youth campers back in the day.

Image credit: Pedestrian Bridge in
Buenos Aires by Roby Alampay


how to do it, how not to

Here's the good news from Mexico City's MetroBus (sp.) BRT system (via WorldChanging):

Mexico City, Mexico's Metrobus
To date, ridership is up, with 164 million users since Metrobus began operating. Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard wants to see nine more such corridors installed before the end of his term. Much cheaper than subway construction, these new lines will move as many as 1.7 million passengers daily, providing a break for public transit users, motorists and the city's air quality.

In fact, Ebrard plans to spend about $2.5 billion on improving public transit, adding a new subway line and lengthening the Insurgentes dedicated bus lane. He is going to take on the rest of the city's microbus owners as well.

Along with buying new large buses and junking the aging fleet of microbuses and vans, "We want to convince them to participate in companies like the Metrobus," said Armando Quintero, the city's Secretary of Transport and Roads. "Instead of investing in infrastructure for private vehicles, we are going to invest in collective transport, so that it is no longer a poor method of transport for the poor."
And here's the money shot:
While traffic flow has actually improved, Metrobus moves much faster than the rest of the traffic (emphasis mine, UDC) -- some 250,000 people use the Metrobus every day, and a journey that used to take over two hours is now down to 58 minutes. As a result of both faster traffic and speedier bus transit, the city's famously contaminated air is spared 35,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually.

However, the system has another innovative aspect to it: a combination of public and private ownership.

Metrobus director Guillermo Calderon knew he'd have a major fight on his hands if he just kicked the microbus owners off the street. "It would have gone against the politics of the city government and brought about major social problems," he said. "Insurgentes Avenue would have been totally blocked in protest."

Since a previous study of transit use on the avenue showed that about 7 out of every 10 persons used private collective transport, "we came up with an innovative scheme, integrating them into the business," he said.

While Calderon deals with management and planning, a consortium of two entities actually owns the system: the city-run Passenger Transport Network, or RTP, and a new privately-owned company called Corridor Insurgentes, S.A., or CISA.

CISA is made up of the 262 former microbus owners who had previously been offering service on Insurgentes.

Meanwhile, Chile's TranSantiago (sp.) stumbled at the gates (via Embarq's The City Fix):

Santiago, Chile's TranSantiago

“It is not common for a president to stand before the nation and say ‘Things haven’t gone well,” Michele Bachelet, Chile’s President, said in March of this year. “But that is exactly what I want to say in the case of Transantiago. The inhabitants of Santiago, especially the poorest deserve an apology.”

Conceived more than six years ago, TranSantiago was nothing less than a complete overhaul of Santiago’s public transit system with a particular focus on the buses that clogged the city’s streets. In broad strokes, Santiago took old, polluting buses off the streets, partially replaced them with new, clean buses, and reorganized bus routes to maximize the efficiency of the system as a whole. The whole purpose was to reduce system costs and, very specially, to reduce air pollution, a major problem due to thermal inversion in the winter months.

After six years of planning, the new system was launched in early February of this year. The results have been far from impressive: service coverage declined, waiting times increased, reliability dropped, and to top things off, buses and trains were overcrowded, bursting beyond capacity, and causing all sorts of delays. The horrendous service resulted in strong public protests, and even rioting in some areas of the city. The system accomplished exactly the opposite that it was intended for, as car ownership and car use rapidly increased as a solution to meet their commuting needs (see ad by a car dealer).

Why? (IndioSign would appreciate these notes):
Some have come away from the TranSantiago experience thinking that large and chaotic bus systems like Santiago’s cannot be fixed without creating an even bigger mess. I want to state unequivocally that this is simply not true. TranSantiago was the most ambitious transport modernization project in a developing city that was carried out in the last decade. The concept was good, but as the adage goes, the devil is in the details. During the development stages, important design components were overlooked. For example, there were not enough bus-exclusive lanes. Low-capacity bus stops were created instead of high-capacity bus stations. And the payment system required commuters to pay once they board, not when they entered the stations. All of these combined to produce overwhelming inefficiencies, with the commuter bearing the brunt of the burden. What we should take away from TranSantiago is that a project of such a massive scale demands a comprehensive design and implementation process, with all stake holders directly involved and in constant communication (emphasis mine -UDC). Quality of service should not be secondary to economic and environmental considerations. At least the average existing service conditions (coverage, total travel time) should be maintained.

Meanwhile, we're making baby steps with Hapi Buses.

Image credit: Metrobus and TranSantiago Images
from Wikimedia Commons


agro-housing and cars that fold

(via ASLA's The Dirt blog)

The building above is the proposed concept design for Agro-Housing, Knafo Klimor's winning entry in the the 2nd International Architecture Competition for Sustainable Housing. (Here's the write-up, more illustrations, a pdf presentation and a video tour.)

Basically it's a 12-story residential building with apartment units wrapping around a vertical greenhouse core. Vertical farming is not a new concept but previous proposals were basically industrial farms in skyscraper forms. There are though, very good reasons for moving agricultural production into vertical formats.

This is the first proposal that mixes housing with agriculture. (How's that for mixed-use?)

From the website:

Advantages of this innovative building typology:
  • Produces food for tenants and the surrounding community.
  • Produces organic and healthy food that is disease and fertilizer free
  • Creates an abundance of crops for self-consumption and sale for the neighbors.
  • Requires no special skill set for greenhouse operation
  • Allows for flexibility and independence for the greenhouse working hours.
  • Creates extra income and new jobs for the inhabitants in the building.
  • Creates a sense of community and softens the crisis of migration to cities.
  • Preserves rural traditions and social order.
  • Creates sustainable housing conditions and reduces air and soil pollution.
  • Improves the building’s microclimate and reduction of its energy usage (cooling and heating)
  • Uses water from the existing high water table and recycles grey water for gardening.
The proposal intrigues me and I wonder if this can help finance vertical low-cost or affordable housing in Metro Manila? Can the greenhouse produce commercial quantities of organic produce, enough at least to provide shared income for the apartment residents (perhaps as a cooperative)? If this was replicated on a large scale (like EcoBlocks), would it be viable enough to interest an investment from agro-industry?

Meanwhile, those crazy kids from MIT have proposed a carbon-free, stackable rental car.

"The Smart Cities group at the MIT Media Lab is working on two low-cost electric vehicles that it hopes will revolutionize mass transit and help alleviate pollution. Next week, the group will unveil a prototype of its foldable electric scooter at the EICMA Motorcycle Show, in Milan. A prototype for the team's foldable electric car, called the City Car, is slated to follow next year.

The MIT group sees the vehicles as the linchpin in a strategy that aims to mitigate pollution with electric power, expand limited public space by folding and stacking vehicles like shopping carts, and alleviate congestion by letting people rent and return the vehicles to racks located near transportation hubs, such as train stations, airports, and bus depots.

"We're looking at urban personal mobility in a much more sustainable way than the private automobile provides," says William Mitchell, director of the Smart Cities research group.

This will be fantastic paired with Zipcar's model of shared-car ownership (read: car membership plans). I've been a Zipcar member for the last 4 years and I find it indispensable. I get to use cars without having to worry about parking or maintenance. All for a reasonable hourly rental rate that covers gas and insurance.

I've wondered if a model like this could work in Makati and Ortigas. The big worry of course is carnapping, but the technology actually tracks the vehicles which could be a bit of a deterrent. You can also price in the cost of theft insurance into the business model. It could work. Plus, if MIT's cars finally get to market, then you have the added insurance of easy to spot cars not available in the retail market. (e.g.- no place to sell the car -unless, of course, you break it up).

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