Municipal Institute Of LearningMILE - Municipal Institute Of Learning
Cities: Sights for Innovation!
Professor Rob Moore introduced a stimulating session on city innovations with the comment that cities are the primary sites of innovation but this is only possible if there are key conditions and circumstances - the succeeding speakers explored these aspects.
Dr Rhoda Kadali said that many of the innovative projects that her Institute rewards are a result of 'business unusual', a methodology that is frequently difficult for the public sector. She said that we must look at the past, present and future when innovating and innovations can have unintended but positive consequences and one of these is making good of bad history.
"Innovations require political will, we must spend money to make money, make mistakes and learn from them, and take risks."
Two of the three innovations that were described are from eThekwini - the community ablution blocks and the Marianhill landfill site. An innovation in Johannesburg accommodation provision is fascinating and worthy of emulation - an old hotel has been converted into rental accommodation for emergency stays, traditional living, communal living and bachelor rooms. There is no bad debt, no vacancies and vibrant community networks.
Professor Zhu Dajian reflected on urban growth and green innovation in China and highlighted the need for sociological (immigration, fertility, lifestyle and culture) changes as well technological changes. He also spoke about the need for individuals to share ownership than seek to consume individually.
Sunil Dubey agreed that shared ownership is a key aspect of city innovation. He said that Sydney has put people at the centre of their plans to innovate and added that technology and governance must go hand in hand in planning and achieving innovation.
Mr Dubey also gave an overview of Metropolis research in India where it was found that in 10 projects, innovations were successfully implemented using local technologies. Innovation doesn't have to be complex and the human side is vital.
Ms Aline Cannataro Figueiredo remarked that Sao Paulo is the richest and largest Brazilian city but has sprawled over the last 50 years and they are working towards a compact city. She provided an insight into some innovations for densification in residential areas: consent for additional rights; consideration of social networks when designing; use of different design styles; using full potential of city information to allow creative solutions.
Jenny Clover of ICLEI presented examples of innovative practice in Africa in the context of urban sustainability. She observed that we can transform cities if we make the right choices and innovation is the key to decoupling from escalating resource use and environmental impacts.
There are thousands of experiments underway in the fields of technology, urban form and governance. There are emerging solutions in Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) and eThekwini's beneficiation strategy is one of these. Eastern Cape schools are tackling the water-food-energy nexus with good results.
Transit Oriented Development (TOD) projects are also making a difference in areas where sprawl has stretched public transport away from residential areas especially of the poor and examples of BRT, exchanging taxis with buses and bicycles in Egypt and the eThekwini integrated transport plan were given.
Ms Kirsten Doermann of the Wits School of Architecture presented aspects of a student project on housing in Yeoville now a suburb dominated by migrants. The project was predicated on understanding the community: Ms Doermann observed that imagining is often secondary to taking action and the project tried to reverse this.
Rashid Seedat of Gauteng government presented an overview of the centre for Urban Innovation in Gauteng that Minister announced at the opening on 17 July and this will the subject of a separate posting.

To view pictures taken at the Metropolis Annual Meeting click here.
Keywords: Metropolis, "Caring Cities", UCLG, eThekwini Municipality

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