National Links: Austin 3D Prints a Village

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Every day at The Overhead Wire we collect news about cities and send the links to our email list.  At the end of the week we take some of the most popular stories and post them to Greater Greater Washington, a group blog similar to streets.mn that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

Why the US is So Bad at Building Transit: The United States spent more than $47B on 1,200 miles of new and expanded transit lines from 2010 to 2019, but still lags relative to the rate of transit construction in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Aaron Gordon notes that the US simply builds less public transit per urban dweller than its peer countries, and that what has been built recently is in sprawling metro areas that do not support transit well. He posits, however, that the issue is a political system uninterested in reforming transportation policy. (Aaron Gordon | Motherboard)

Replica Not Sharing Its Data Sources: Replica, a startup that simulates virtual models of cities and their movement, has shown reluctance for over a year to give Portland Metro sufficient information about its privacy protections. It has failed to provide the transit agency a full report proving that its system is secure from reidentification of actual people. In response, Portland Metro aims to test its vulnerabilities by exposing identities using an unusually detailed Replica data set, a proposition even some experts say has its own privacy risks. (Kate Kaye | Fast Company)

3D-Printed Homes for the Homeless: Icon, an Austin-based startup, is building six small homes outside the city in a community it dubs the “Community First! Village.” Icon designed a 3D printer to build the homes, believing that the approach may substantially drive down construction costs and ease delivering shelter for homeless individuals. The company is also using its technology to build homes in Mexico for people living in extreme poverty, creating the world’s first 3D-printed neighborhood. (Adele Peters | Fast Company)

NASA’s Carbon Dioxide Insights: A new NASA study analyzed carbon dioxide emissions from 20 major cities around the world with its first direct, satellite-based evidence that shows as a city’s population density increases, the carbon dioxide it emits per person declines. The study utilized a “top-down” approach to inventory emissions, using satellite derived estimates of the amount of carbon dioxide present in the air above an urban area as the satellite flies overhead. This satellite data is helpful as it can combine emissions from all sources in a city, rather than the “bottom-up” approach of collecting emissions data from individual industrial facilities, transportation, or farms. (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at CalTech)

Houston releases framework to protect city from climate related disasters: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner unveiled a 186 page framework and an executive order that requires all Houston city departments to implement resilience planning and budgeting in their respective areas of service. To achieve this, each department is responsible for designating Departmental Resilience Officers in charge of coordination of a $50 billion investment plan by 2040. (Kristin Musulin | Smart Cities Dive)

Quote of the Week

The design of sustainable communities is not about green technologies. It’s about the underlying code. It’s about zoning. It’s about the building code. It’s about property taxes. In most communities, property taxes, in fact, incentivize people to build bigger rather than smaller because we don’t have a progressive system of property taxation. So these kind of boring things about zoning, and about taxes and about building codes—that’s where the change is going to occur.”

Maurie Cohen in Fast Company talking about what the most equitablle size home might be.

This week on the podcast, planners from the SFMTA talk about updating a trolleybus yard and adding housing on top.

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