On November 20th, expert practitioners and academics gathered at the third annual Penn GIS Day to present their work and discuss topics in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The event drew an audience of more than 100.
Kumar Navulur, Director of Next Generation Products at DigitalGlobe, gave the keynote address. In it, he described the transformations precipitated by the availability of an ever-growing amount of online data; he focused particularly on the opportunities made possible by the availability of higher-resolution satellite imaging and other remote sensing data. Advancing technology, he pointed out, makes access to satellite images nearly real-time. Describing this new world, Navulur called upon the audience to take up the challenge of realizing the possibilities inherent in such technological advances.
The panel session, entitled City of Data–Civic Innovation in Philadelphia, explored the development and future direction of “open data” and geospatial data applications in the city. Presenters included Mark Headd, Chief Data Officer with the City of Philadelphia; Brian Ivey, GIS Manager at the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology; Lauren Gilchrist, Manager of Research and Analysis at Philadelphia’s Center City District (CCD); Sarah Low, Philadelphia Urban Field Station Coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service; and Grant Ervin, Public Safety GIS Program Manager from Philadelphia’s Deputy Mayor’s Office of Public Safety.
“Lightning Talks” highlighted GIS resources at Penn. Guests Tara Jackson, Executive Director of Penn’s Cartographic Modeling Lab, Paul Amos, Managing Director of the Wharton GIS Lab, and Christine Murray, Social Sciences Data Librarian at Van Pelt/Penn Libraries, each presented an overview of his or her program’s capacity.
The afternoon panel explored findings in GIS-based urban research. Charles Branas, Professor of Epidemiology in Biostatistics and Epidemiology at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, discussed the results of his ongoing research showing the association between vacant properties and crime, highlighting potential place-based interventions (“cleaning and greening”) as strategies for improving public health and revitalizing neighborhoods. Ken Steif, Doctoral Fellow in the City and Regional Planning Department at PennDesign,presented geo-statistical models estimating the real estate value of shuttered public school properties in Philadelphia. Eugene Brusilovskiy, Statistician and Director of GIS Analytics in the Rehabilitation Research Lab at Temple University, presented his evaluation of associations between psychiatric disability and the availability of neighborhood amenities.
Throughout the day, both panelists and audience members engaged in lively discussion about the need for quality data, about crowd-sourced data, and about the expanding potential of and growing need for geospatial and data-driven analytical tools in a range of civic and academic disciplines. PennDesign's Dana Tomlin, Professor of Landscape Architecture, Amy Hillier, Associate Professor of City and Regional Planning, and John Landis, Crossways Professor of City and Regional Planning co-hosted the event.
Video footage of each session may be found below. In addition, PDF slideshow presentations for each presenter may be accessed by clicking on the presenter's name.
“Welcome to Penn GIS Day 2013”
Opening remarks from Dana Tomlin (PennDesign)
“City of Data - Civic Innovation in Philadelphia”
Panel moderated by John Landis (PennDesign), with presentations by Grant Ervin (City of Philadelphia), Mark Headd (City of Philadelphia), Brian Ivey (City of Philadelphia), Sarah Low (US Forest Service), and Lauren Gilchrist (Center City District).
“The New Spatial World - A Vision for the Future”
Keynote address by Kumar Navulur (DigitalGlobe).
In May of 2013 the Penn Institute for Urban Research sponsored a roundtable symposium, convening researchers and decision makers on urban ecosystem services. Organized by the Spatial Integration Laboratory for Urban Systems (SILUS) – a research collaborative of Penn IUR, Wharton GIS Lab and USGS Science and Decisions Center – the event brought together city and national leaders to examine the role of green infrastructure in the advancement of sustainable cities. Read the report from the symposium below.
On October 31, Penn IUR and Penn’s Executive Vice President hosted a conversation about university-led economic and community development. Leaders from several of the nation’s most engaged urban universities, along with representatives from municipal governance and the private sector discussed the public, private and institutional investments being made in neighborhood revitalization and Innovation Districts around the country. Speakers included Craig R. Carnaroli, Executive Vice President, University of Pennsylvania; Nim Chinniah, Executive Vice President for Administration & Chief Financial Officer, The University of Chicago; Gayle Farris, Principal, GB Farris Strategies; Andrew Frank, Special Adviser to the President on Economic Development, Johns Hopkins University; Katie Lapp, Executive Vice President, Harvard University; and Robert Steel, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, City of New York.
In late September a team from the Penn Institute for Urban Research delivered a set of thirty indicators of sustainable and livable communities to the Federal Partnership of Sustainable Communities (PSC) (a collaboration between the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)).
The Sustainable Communities Indicator Catalog (SCIC) is intended to provide communities with a flexible set of measurement tools to help them identify how interventions in the built environment (housing, transportation, and land use) make communities more livable or sustainable.
The project started in 2010 as a survey of indicator systems and initiatives across North America for UN-Habitat and HUD’s Office of International and Philanthropic Innovation. The results of the survey suggested that communities needed flexible ways to measure progress towards being more sustainable. The PSC was looking into how they could provide guidance on measuring and evaluating projects using indicators. With a grant from the Ford Foundation in 2012, Penn IUR’s research team was able to develop the indicator catalog with the PSC to provide a flexible set of measures and foundational information on community indicators.
The SCIC is currently under internal review at HUD, DOT, and EPA. The final version of the SCIC will be available online at SustainableCommunities.gov later this year. Penn IUR will also be piloting the SCIC with community stakeholders in the coming months. The indicator catalog will include information on how to collect data and calculate indicators and will include ways for communities to connect to other areas with similar initiatives.
by Michael B. Katz
Michael B. Katz is a Penn IUR faculty fellow and Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts & Sciences.
Most of the abundant new literature on recent immigration concentrates on the traditional immigrant ports-of-entry and on new and emerging immigrant gateways. As in urban studies literature more generally, small and medium-sized cities remain relatively neglected. However, these cities house a significant fraction of the population and are home to huge numbers of immigrants. Indeed, in 2010 more than four of ten of the foreign-born persons in the United States lived in a municipality with a population of less than 200,000; a third lived in cities and towns of 20,000-99,000. Immigrants are transforming the economies, demographies, and spatial organization of these cities and, as a result, bringing them back to life – but bringing them back in a special way. We need to look hard and drop some of our customary assumptions to appreciate just what kind of a process immigrant-led revitalization is.
That, in a nutshell, is the hypothesis of current research I am conducting with Kenneth Ginsburg. Our intensive look at Paterson and Passaic, NJ, and Bridgeport, CT, supports our hypothesis and points to interesting and important directions for public policy. Of course, these three small cities are not the universe nor are they statistically representative of urban America. But they share a history common to many other cities: a vibrant manufacturing past resting on immigrant-dominated workforces; a precipitous economic and population decline around the middle of the twentieth century; and renewed immigrant-led population growth in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
Revitalization is a term bandied about in urban studies literature but rarely defined. To us, urban revitalization consists of increases in population, commerce, occupancy, leisure/entertainment venues, services, and safety. Although these features of the revitalization process form a package, population increase comes first. The process is facilitated by a distinctive type (or types) of private agency and by sets of public/private relationships. Moreover, it plays out differently in what I term Growth and Immigrant Models.
Revitalization follows on roughly a half century of devitalization. Devitalization refers to a decrease in each of the factors listed above. Depopulation, dying downtowns, vacant stores, disappearing movie theaters and restaurants, bank closings, rising crime rates: together, these squeezed the life and vitality of older American cities. They are what revitalization has fought to turn around.
Revitalization, however, takes different forms. The form that receives most attention might be called the Growth Model. (I am painting here with a broad brush.) It is associated with the transformation of land and buildings into high-end uses and with rising real estate prices. It takes shape in new office construction; the rehabilitation of historic buildings for new commercial uses; high-end shopping, dining, and entertainment, some of which is located in faux-spontaneous funky districts serving an affluent clientele; new hotels; in apartment construction, loft conversion, and gentrification; and, in recent years, a swelling “creative class.” Private Business Improvement Districts, funded by businesses, anchor institutions, and homeowners, protect and sanitize revitalizing sectors of large cities and sometimes promote both economic development and cultural amenities. They also attempt to exclude poor people, especially those whose visible poverty tarnishes the image they hope to convey. The Growth Model contributes to the growing trend in the United States toward the economic inequality of places and of people even as it attracts population and increases tax revenue.
Revitalization through immigration is another matter. In the Growth Model the daytime population of workers in new venues is the first to increase. Residential population follows. In immigrant districts, the growth of the residential population increases first. The availability of low-cost housing, co-ethnics, and family attract new residents. In immigrant districts, commercial development serves the needs of the low-income resident population for necessities and, often, ethnic goods. Population increases the occupancy of vacant stores in shopping districts with popularly priced establishments, like dollar stores and small groceries, serving the immediate needs of residents. Inexpensive immigrant ethnic restaurants along with immigrant arts organizations, community gardens, and venues for socializing dot the landscape. Immigrant districts foster the emergence of a specialized immigrant civil society – what Stephen Castles and Mark Miller in The Age of Migration call a “meso-structure:” money-transfer agencies, auto-title and insurance brokers, specialized travel agencies, and social services which provide literacy education, housing assistance, and other immigrant integration necessities. The role of the informal economy in Growth and Immigrant Models is less clear. However, in both models, safety increases. Violent crime rates, in fact, decrease dramatically in small and medium-sized immigrant cities.
Employment connects the two models symbiotically. Growth districts depend on low-cost immigrant labor for many tasks, such as cleaning offices or working the back of restaurants. They import the workers who perform these tasks. Except for resident domestics, these low-wage workers do not live in the districts in which they work or in the gentrified areas that abut them. In immigrant cities, the overwhelming majority of workers – 70 percent to 80 percent in the cities we are studying – work outside the cities where they live. These small immigrant cities thus serve as reservations for low wage-workers who are dependent on labor markets that surround them. The better jobs within them are taken for the most part by workers who enter from other, more affluent municipalities.
One way to view these cities is as incubators. They are places to which people from afar come to settle and build lives; they incubate integration to the United States and the local labor market. They also incubate social mobility primarily among the second generation, who leave the city when they can. I use the term incubator to signify that the cities are both places of nurture and nests from which the successful leave.
There is much more that could be said about these models of urban revitalization and the research needed to fully understand them. But let me conclude with just a couple of implications for policy. First, and most obvious, is that small rustbelt cities should do everything in their power to attract immigrants. Immigrant-attraction policies should include active programs to facilitate immigrant integration. Where immigrant integration programs are too difficult or expensive for small cities, they might form alliances for this purpose. Immigrants hold out the only realistic hope of population growth and economic revival in these small and medium-sized cities. Immigrants often may be poor and the commerce and institutions they sustain unglamorous. But they contribute tax dollars, stem housing and commercial vacancy, start businesses, and bring life and vitality to formerly dead neighborhoods and downtowns. There is evidence that some cities are hearing this message. In a recent (October 6, 2013) New York Times article, reporter Julia Preston points out that Dayton, Ohio, and other “struggling cities are trying to restart growth by luring enterprising immigrants, both highly skilled workers and low wage laborers.”
Second, these small cities should stop chasing the Growth Model of development. They are not going to revive their downtowns as mini-Manhattans or Philadelphia Center Cities. They are not going to be home to large numbers of the creative class. They are not going to attract cutting-edge technology firms in significant numbers. Anchor institutions will help. But overall, for revitalization they need to accept and build on what they are and where their strengths lie. One might say that despite the absence of public policy, these immigrant cities are reinventing themselves. In fact, the 1965 Hart-Cellar Act repeal of the nationality-based immigration quotas, which sparked the current immigrant surge, may turn out, unintentionally, to have been the most effective of all federal contributions to urban revitalization. The intelligent choice for policy is to embrace this new definition of the city and work toward facilitating its development as a place where an economically modest population can find what it needs to carve out satisfying lives. This course is realistic, honorable, and, in its way, exciting.
Penn IUR Faculty Fellow David Grazian, Associate Professor of Sociology in the School of Arts and Sciences, received a fellowship from the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, New Jersey to pursue his research full time during the 2013-2014 academic year.
Grazian has been named a fellow in the Institute’s School of Social Science. Each year, the School of Social Science invites about twenty visiting scholars from various disciplines to examine historical and contemporary problems. Scholars are drawn from diverse fields including anthropology, economics, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, and literary criticism.
During his sabbatical year of residence, Grazian will complete a book manuscript on metropolitan zoos as repositories of culture as well as nature. The book is tentatively titled Where the Wild Things Aren’t: City Zoos and the Culture of Nature.
Grazian is the author of three books: Blue Chicago: The Search for Authenticity in Urban Blues Clubs (University of Chicago Press, 2003), On the Make: The Hustle of Urban Nightlife (University of Chicago Press, 2008), and Mix It Up: Popular Culture, Mass Media, and Society (W.W. Norton, 2010). At Penn, he teaches courses on popular culture, mass media, and the arts; cities and urban sociology; social interaction and public behavior; and ethnographic methods.
Grazian joins two other members of the Penn faculty named IAS Fellows: Paul Goldin, Professor of Chinese Thought in the East Asian Languages and Civilization Department, and Vanessa Ogle, Assistant Professor of History in the Department of History, who are pursuing their research in a fall 2013 and a 2013-2014 sabbatical at IAS, respectively.
While new development projects grab more attention, it’s our legacy assets – the inherited artifacts of past generations – that offer the greatest opportunities for innovation. The “Legacy and Innovation Conference: Unlocking Value in Regional Energy Assets” – held October 11, 2013 at the University of Pennsylvania and sponsored in part by Penn IUR, PennDesign, and others – explored this nexus between legacy and innovation using as a platform the Philadelphia region’s active discussion of how to leverage its large collection of legacy assets into an economic development strategy.
The conference held a spotlight to post-industrial Philadelphia, a region with a long list of legacy assets, albeit many of them in disrepair. Panelists pointed out that it is just this decay that is driving so much innovation. An example offered by Howard Neukrug, Director of the Philadelphia Water Department, early in the day illustrates this point: the relic of combined sewer infrastructure (in which both stormwater and sanitary sewage flow into the same sewer pipes, causing overflows of untreated wastewater during heavy rainfalls) has provided Philadelphia, somewhat perversely, with the opportunity to become a leader in “green” stormwater design (using natural methods to treat rainwater before it enters the sewer system).
In the second half of the day, the discussion broadened to consider legacies beyond the city’s physical assets, recognizing that the city’s existing social, cultural, and institutional networks also play a role in economic productivity. Other conversations centered on the complicated issue of Philadelphia’s growth, with panelists acknowledging that, while Philadelphia is attracting the coveted millennial generation – lauded for its innovation – the city’s growth pattern appears to be unsustainable, as it continues to lose people to the suburbs.
“Legacy and Innovation” was a riveting event that opened audience members’ imaginations to the possibilities offered by legacy assets, challenging them to look past today’s successes and towards a sustainable future.
Did you miss the conference? The video of the keynote speech by Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution and of the first panel (on characteristics of successfully repurposed legacy assets) is available here. Videos of the second panel (on legacy assets’ potential economic value to their regions), third panel (on the intersection between innovation and geography), and the fourth panel (on strategies for fostering innovation) are also available online.
Spurred in large part by its rapid growth, India has become a world center of innovation; this has critical implications for academics, policymakers, and business and government leaders. Penn will host a conference, India as a Pioneer in Innovation: Constraints and Opportunities, on campus in Philadelphia on November 14-15, 2013, to advance our understanding of innovation in India, especially in business, law, public services, and urban planning. An additional half-day session will be held at the Wharton School’s San Francisco campus on November 18 focusing on innovation in business and law.
The conference will feature panels that bring together academic experts, policy makers, and business and government leaders. Conference keynote speakers include Sam Pitroda, Adviser to the Prime Minister of India and Chairman of the National Innovation Council, and Arvind Subramanian, Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development. The conference is a cornerstone of Penn’s engagement with India and its global initiatives for 2013.
Penn IUR has organized a session, Innovation within Cities, where a panel of leading experts in urban advancement in India will discuss Innovation for Slums and Informal Settlements. Speakers include: Aromar Revi, Director, Indian Institute of Settlements, and co-chair, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Thematic Group 9: Sustainable Cities: Inclusive, Resilient, and Connected; Chetan Vaidya, Director, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, and Chairman, All India Planning Education Board of AICTE; and Brian English, Director, Office of Program Innovation, Global Communities, Silver Spring, MD. The Penn IUR session will be moderated by our co-director Eugenie L. Birch, and will be held on Friday, November 15, 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.
Penn IUR’s Urban Research eJournal marks its first anniversary this month, and there is much to celebrate. Since the inaugural issue appeared on October 10, 2012, the online journal has gained almost 1,000 subscribers worldwide and the journal’s articles have been downloaded 60,000 times. Published through the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), and originally envisioned as a weekly, the volume of submissions prompted a move to bi-weekly publication.
Penn IUR Co-directors Eugenie Birch and Susan Wachter, who also co-founded and co-edit the eJournal, envisioned a single point of access for new and classic research that addresses pressing issues of governance, policy, economics, design and social issues that surround global urbanization. With more than half the world’s population now urban - the United States, Latin America and Europe are more than three-quarters urban while Asia and Africa are experiencing rapid rates of urbanization - global urbanization has led to a new emphasis in urban-focused research at the intersection of many fields, including anthropology, city planning, economics, history, political science, real estate, sociology and area studies. A primary goal of the Urban Research eJournal is to curate and distribute recently published articles, working papers and enduring literature that contributes to our understanding of the drivers of urbanization and the policy forces that contribute to the development of sustainable urban forms.
The editorial board represents the multiple disciplines covered by the ejournal and includes renowned urban scholars Elijah Anderson, William K. Lanman, Jr. Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Yale University; Gilles Duranton, Professor of Real Estate, Department of Real Estate, the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; Richard Florida, Director and Professor of Business and Creativity, Martin Prosperity Institute, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto; Edward L. Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Department of Economics, Brookings Institution, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); William N. Goetzmann, Edwin J. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Management Studies and Director of the ICF, Yale School of Management, Yale University International Center for Finance (ICF), National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Michael B. Katz, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History, Department of History, University of Pennsylvania; Catherine Ross, Harry West Professor of City and Regional Planning, Director, Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, Georgia Institute of Technology; Saskia Sassen, Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Columbia University; Michael H. Schill, Dean and Harry N. Wyatt Professor of Law, University of Chicago; and Anthony Yeh, Chair Professor and Head, Department of Urban Planning and Design, The University of Hong Kong.