The Guardian


Predicting Crime, LAPD-Style

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June 25, 2014
Cutting edge data-driven analysis directs Los Angeles patrol officers to likely future crime scenes – but critics worry that decision-making by machine will bring 'tyranny of the algorithm'

The Los Angeles Police Department, like many urban police forces today, is both heavily armed and thoroughly computerised. The Real-Time Analysis and Critical Response Division in downtown LA is its central processor. Rows of crime analysts and technologists sit before a wall covered in video screens stretching more than 10 metres wide. Multiple news broadcasts are playing simultaneously, and a real-time earthquake map is tracking the region’s seismic activity. Half-a-dozen security cameras are focused on the Hollywood sign, the city’s icon.

How To Use Jo'burg's Minibus Taxis

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Using Johannesburg's unoffical transport system is an adventure in itself. Here's a beginner's guide

Carless in Johannesburg. It could be the title of a low-budget horror movie. A huge, sprawling greater metropolitan area of about 10 million people covering more than 600 square miles, the city is built for the car. If you're not in one, good luck – even though most drivers will be stuck in gridlock. I've been here for a few weeks and my main exposure to the city has been on foot. And I'm not alone. The overwhelming majority of Jo'burgers are carless.

Raze, Rebuild, Repeat: Why Japan Knocks Down its Houses After 30 Years

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November 16, 2017
Unlike in other countries, Japanese homes become valueless over time – but as the population shrinks, can its cities finally learn to slow down and refurb?

In the suburban neighbourhood of Midorigaoka, about an hour by train outside Kobe, Japan, all the houses were built by the same company in the same factory. Steel frames fitted out with panel walls and ceilings, these homes were clustered by the hundreds into what was once a brand new commuter town. But they weren’t built to last.

Photos: Raze, Rebuild, Repeat: Why Japan Knocks Down its Houses After 30 Years

Publication:
Date: 
November 16, 2017
Unlike in other countries, Japanese homes become valueless over time – but as the population shrinks, can its cities finally learn to slow down and refurb?

Mitsuhiro Tokuda in the backyard of a traditional home in Kitakyushu – now converted into a cafe
Mitsuhiro Tokuda, a professor of architecture at the Kyushu Institute of Technology, in the backyard of a traditional home in Kitakyushu – now converted into a cafe.

Models displaying the floorplans of a pre- and post-renovation home built by the housing manufacturer Sekisui House, at their showroom facilities north of Tokyo, Japan.

Is Elon Musk's Plan for a Road Network Beneath LA More than a Pipe Dream?

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September 4, 2017
Cities attract wild ideas, from Qinhuangdao’s straddling bus to London’s bike lanes in the sky. As Musk’s Boring Company starts tunnelling, could his plans for underground roads and Hyperloop trains prove the doubters wrong?

In early August, the city council of Hawthorne, California, held a special meeting. It had set aside this time to discuss a major construction project proposed by a high profile company based there in the sprawling Los Angeles basin.

Breathless in Bakersfield: Is the Worst Air Pollution in the US About to Get Worse?

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February 14, 2017
In California’s Central Valley emissions from oil refineries and agriculture make Bakersfield America’s most air-polluted city. Activists fear the Trump administration could undo small but steady improvements.

The bluffs on Panorama Road offer a wide view of the northern half of Bakersfield, which is one of the few major population centres in California’s Central Valley – perhaps the US’ leading agricultural motherlode.

It’s a rare bird’s eye vantage point of this low-slung farm city of roughly 375,000 people, nestled in a bowl created by the Sierra Nevada mountains to the east and part of the California Coast Ranges to the west. On a clear day, the state’s dominant topographical features put the landscape, and one’s place in it, in sobering perspective.

How a Design Competition Changed the US Approach to Disaster Response

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January 18, 2017
the story of Rebuild By Design, a competition – and now its own organisation – based on taking a more proactive approach to disaster response in cities; but how far can you prepare for the effects of climate change?

Ten years ago, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg released a plan to create what he called “the first environmentally sustainable 21st-century city”. The blueprint, known as PlaNYC and released on Earth Day, outlined more than 100 projects and policies to create that sustainable city by 2030.

It set a precedent for local action on climate change; cities around the world began drafting their own sustainability plans. But then in October 2012, it got a harsh reality check.

Lots to Lose: How Cities Around the World are Eliminating Car Parks

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Date: 
September 27, 2016
It’s a traditional complaint about urban life: there’s never anywhere to park. But in the 21st century, do cities actually need less parking space, not more?

With space for roughly 20,000 cars, the parking lot that surrounds the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, is recognised as the largest car park in the world.

Spread across vast expanses of asphalt and multi-storey concrete structures, these parking spots take up about half the mall’s 5.2m sq ft, on what was once the edge of the city of Edmonton. A few blocks away, a similar amount of space is taken up by a neighbourhood of nearly 500 homes.

The Cincinnati Experiment: Can 'Citizen Philanthropy' Improve a City?

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Date: 
August 30, 2016
‘Philanthropy lab’ People’s Liberty is funding individuals with smart ideas to benefit Cincinnati, in the hope of finding a new generation of local civic leaders.

When Brandon Black and his wife were trying to fix up the old two-unit house they’d recently bought in Cincinnati, they discovered they needed some help from people who actually knew what they were doing. His old wrestling coach and her father – two baby boomers with construction experience – proved to be invaluable home improvement mentors, who happily guided them through the process.

After Fort McMurray: Where are the World's Most Fire-Prone Cities?

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Date: 
May 16, 2016
Images of the devastated Canadian city show just how destructive fire can be to urban populations. But the risk is greatest in informal settlements, where high population density and low-grade construction can be a deadly combination

With patches of lawn on fire in the front yards of his neighbourhood’s suburban homes and flames rising up the trees at the back, Jared Sabovitch frantically got into his car and began driving away from his home in Fort McMurray, Alberta, the Canadian city recently overtaken by wildfires.

“Hasty exit,” he said as he drove, the phone in his hand recording a video he would later post to Instagram. “That might have been the last time I ever saw my house, right there.”