Road Density

The Global Roads Inventory Project (GRIP) dataset describes 60 geospatial datasets on road infrastructure worldwide, covering 222 countries and over 21?million?km of roads. The dataset is split into 5 types: highways/ primary/ secondary/ tertiary/ local roads. It is used by organizations such as GloBio to monitor human impacts on biodiversity. The GRIP dataset consists of global and regional vector datasets in ESRI file geodatabase and shapefile format and global raster datasets of road density at a 5 arcminutes resolution (~8x8km).RLC

Data gathering such as this may appear to be a process like that of an embalmer, given the rate of change in biodiversity and the increase of global warming gases, largely facilitated by the expansion of roads and what the lead to for our use. But, could it be that simple? Would it be possible to end road construction?

The Global Roads Inventory Project (GRIP) dataset was developed to provide a more recent and consistent global roads dataset for global environmental and biodiversity assessment models such as GLOBIO. The GRIP dataset consists of global and regional vector datasets in ESRI file geodatabase and shapefile format and global raster datasets of road density at a 5 arcminutes resolution (~8x8km).

The United Kingdom has a national land-use policy like most of the EU. However, the UK is a dense island nation represented by a core of residential, institutional, and commercial urban centers in Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. While the relationship with the Republic of Ireland is improving, it is deteriorating with the EU due to Brexit and complications with Northern Ireland.

The urgency of sustainable energy or a zero-waste world is well defined philosophically, but the question of successful implementation is unanswered.  On the other hand, the UK might be the first place of significant size where implementation will offer some hope.

In the United States and the EU, economic policy distributes energy resources to accomplish affordability while anticipating a period of increased scarcity extending through the twenty-first century. 

The increase in “green deals” and the promotion of tech innovations focus on all levels of new urban development.  Alternative bio-energy/hybrid systems design materials based on re-use as the sustainable alternative addresses 10% to 20% of the problem. This is roughly equivalent to the rate of new products entering the market.  The remaining 80% to 90% is represented by the world that is already built.

The issue is neatly symbolized in the United States by the high-speed train.  Thousands of rail mass transit miles in older urban centers offer a century of trial and error development of enormous value to successful urbanization.  For example, the New York City transit service area is just 321 square miles serving its 8 plus million residents who, over the course of one year, will travel nearly 12 billion miles. 

(See the National Transit Database for your region).

Older mass transit systems are examples of how government absorbs private economic development in the public interest.  Based on where and when the goalposts are set, “a penny saved” and “payback” investment in the existing dense core should encourage the holders of real estate to invest mightily to save millions. Still, the capital continues to move to greenfield opportunity (AKA – nice flat farmland) and in the American drylands (mid-to southwest areas), where substantial new development has occurred.

As of the beginning of the 21st century, nothing compels investors to “future-proof” past the wonders of a solid ROI.   Doing so will require new forms of public investment to move the dime on the zero-sum question by limiting development outside of the present urban core with various disincentives.

Similar limitations are outlined in the vital areas of the social economy.   The social security systems of European and American origin drew a safety line around everyone.   These health, education, welfare, and defense investments borrowed extensively on continuously advancing “productivity” technologies.  Is it reasonable to protect the high cost of long life and civil society, or is it more responsible for funding a permanent state of global warfare in various combat settings?

The only threat to analysts becomes increased social and economic dysfunctions contained within “regions.” The bet on technology, a reasoned quality of life contract, and a way to end the confrontational conditions caused by the poor allocation of energy resources require a serious look at the lines of demarcation.

DATASETS & INDICATORS

The following list of “road datasets” suggests how important investors assess this large public function. Conduct a simple search test of the dataset titles [in brackets] below to confirm this impression. Report back via comments and published papers, musings and so on. Thanks


Road density (km of road per 100 sq. km of land area) [IS.ROD.DNST.K2]
Roads, goods transported (million ton-km) [IS.ROD.GOOD.MT.K6]
Roads, paved (% of total roads) [IS.ROD.PAVE.ZS]
Roads, passengers carried (million passenger-km) [IS.ROD.PSGR.K6]
Road sector diesel fuel consumption (kt of oil equivalent) [IS.ROD.DESL.KT]
Road sector diesel fuel consumption per capita (kg of oil equivalent) [IS.ROD.DESL.PC]
Road sector energy consumption (kt of oil equivalent) [IS.ROD.ENGY.KT]
Road sector energy consumption per capita (kg of oil equivalent) [IS.ROD.ENGY.PC]
Road sector energy consumption (% of total energy consumption) [IS.ROD.ENGY.ZS]
Road sector gasoline fuel consumption (kt of oil equivalent) [IS.ROD.SGAS.KT]
Road sector gasoline fuel consumption per capita (kg of oil equivalent) [IS.ROD.SGAS.PC]
Motor vehicles (per 1,000 people) [IS.VEH.NVEH.P3]
Passenger cars (per 1,000 people) [IS.VEH.PCAR.P3]
Vehicles (per km of road) [IS.VEH.ROAD.K1]

ODBC

The promise of planning, architecture, engineering and construction is useful but not the way we think. 

Designers, planners, architects, all of us, suffer from several well-documented cognitive failings that distort our ability to predict accurately. But, hey, it is the future, it is not that easy to predict, but this could be changing due to two causalities:

  • Are we more likely not to believe evidence contradicting a commonly adopted meaning of a bright-line, hot button event? The event is easy to recall, leading to the likelihood of overestimating such events’ incidence. We are, thus, less likely to accept contradictory evidence without the bright lines.
  • We know how to make events recur with increasing accuracy right along with the sunrise and the tide. But, the capacity to build for the future does not include knowing what it will mean to people or do to their lives?

Solid psychological evidence of these abilities and behaviors leads to one of my favorite things — inevitable conclusions. With human behavior data, governments and businesses use open database connectivity (ODBC) to build businesses. ODBC is a powerful alternative to firms making decisions based on an experts’ track record.

ODBC is complicated because we are all involved. Knowingly as well as without our knowledge, we are all participants in a huge regression to the mean experiment. New ODBC business partnerships bring unbelievably accurate tools to analyze/improve urban evolutionusing a benign participation process with some sticky privacy issues.

New kinds of knowledge capital are consistently built through curiosity and action. Known preferences are finely tuned essentials of routine design decisions predicated by the senses of the human body. The ODBC benefit builds on this framework for a reform movement in which designers, planners, architects, and engineers acquire the leadership role and loses their subservience to capital by capturing a higher level of control over its uses. Aside from the political challenges involved, the advancement of certainty is a forceful way to assure the quality of human life on the earth.

The Decline of Expert Discretion

I offer two examples as to why this decline is probable. In Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart, Ayres describes the replacement of the “expert” whose knowledge is built on experience and track record by step-by-step procedures with fact-holding computers for data modeling. He argues that anything can be predicted. Just before the publication of Super Crunchers, an equally popular book entitled Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, illustrated how extensive analysis of databases reveals hidden causes and new questions replacing the “firm expert” approach to community development services.

These writers explore new business structures that replace the expert. They skillfully illustrate how massive datasets’ quantitative analyses make hundreds of real-world decisions using algorithms for people asking better questions. The question posed here does not regard removing the role captured by traditional experts from the policy framework. The question is not when or if but how quickly it becomes inevitable. Is there any solace in this truth? It seems the answer is yes.

The remaining and most important human element is to guess. Guessing requires a test to discover the variables that should and should not be included in statistical analysis. In other words, to generate hypotheses remains ultimately human. To ask “what causes what” remains the most valid human act.

What Causes What?

Our present experience is coupled with a dense urban environment where the exponential growth in the number of variables affecting choice is now instantly available. These “sets” of information are beyond our “intuitive” abilities to use, let alone an individual or team’s skill at defining problems. However, tools, such as telescopes in space or microscopes in laboratories, force new observations. We thought they were stars, but they are galaxies, and we are a little blue marble in one of them. We can’t see the “atom” but know why they are objects of matter that are smaller than a wave of light. This quality of observational insight is now available regarding human behavior.

The selection of statistical inferences capable of building datasets that explore human behavior is a vital new policy tool. Hours of sleep, the expenditure of dollars on everything-everywhere, miles traveled, even tears shed, and a laugh out loud. It will help designers to see things never seen. Discovering novelty and asking questions will be the source of human insight in regression to the mean data. Still, the sources of data to establish commonality will define the ultimate decision-making structure of every individual. The trade-off could and must be equal. For example, have a look at this narrative on Earthdays (here).

Consensus on OBDC

Therefore, the consensus on this question is developing as follows: There is a lack of extensive knowledge regarding viable algorithms useful for defining the aesthetic of the urban living experience as weighed against the privacy sought. New questions:

  • How will people be added to this group to develop the super-crunching urban design discussion?
  • How will end-user experience data become a routine product for design and planning firms in dense urban and metropolitan areas?
  • How is urban design data produced, made accessible, and used to alter urban design practices?

Two books that offer some insight are: Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything and Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart

Self-Analysis

In 2006, New York Magazine identified 50 projects and commissioned the “world’s best architects” composite.

In 2006, the most active and closely watched areas were:

  1. Atlantic Yards, Brooklyn, 2010 & 2016 (changing) See Atlantic Yards Superblocks.
  2. The New Museum, Chelsea. It’s done. Good neighbor? Bad neighbor?
  3. 80 South Street, Downtown, future (changing) approved in 05, so now what?
  4. IAC Headquarters, High Line, 2007 (ceramic pebbles in the glass to save energy)
  5. Silvercup West, Queens, 2009
  6. Freedom Tower, Downtown, 2015!

Now approaching twenty years later for these areas time set aside for an assessment will prove instructive. Comments on the products regarding the social, economic, and environmental concerns are due. The public process used to promote the plans requires comparison with the end product requires analysis. The image source is New York Magazine 2006.

Greenpoint Northside Waterfront

Manhattan/Brooklyn Heights

  1. The Edge Stephen B. Jacobs; Master Plan FXFOWLE and TEN Arquitectos, Sept. 2008
  2. Palmer’s Dock FXFOWLE, phase one, 2008; phase two, 2009
  3. North 8: Greenberg Farrow Architecture, spring 2007
  4. Domino Sugar Site: Rafael Viñoly Architects, Park opened in 2018, ArchDigest: FEMA flood plan ArchRecRev (payportal)
  5. Schaefer Landing: Karl Fischer Architects, 2006
  6. Freedom Tower, David Childs/SOM; World Trade Center Transit Hub Santiago Calatrava; Tower 2, Sir Norman Foster; visitor center, 2011
  7. 101 Warren Street; SOM, Ismael Leyva Architects, 2007
  8. William Beaver House; Developer André Balazs, no completion date
  9. Staten Island Whitehall Ferry Terminal; Fred Schwartz, 2005
  10. Battery Maritime Building; Renovation, Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, 2006
  11. Beekman Street Tower l Gehry Partners, Ismael Leyva Architects
  12. 80 South Street: Santiago Calatrava
  13. Pier 17; Beyer Blinder Belle, no completion date
  14. Drawing Center; Architect TBA, 2011.
  15. East River Waterfront; SHoP and Richard Rogers Ken Smith Landscape Architects, 2009
  16. Brooklyn Bridge Park; Michael Van Valkenburgh, 2012
  17. One Brooklyn Bridge Park/360 Furman Street Creative Design Associates, fall 2007
Upper West Side
  1. Javits Center; Rogers FXFOWLE Epstein, 2010.
  2. West Side Rail Yards No completion date.
  3. Moynihan Station David Childs/SOM, late 2010
  4. High Line; Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, phase one, 2008; phase two, 2009
  5. Chelsea Arts Tower Kosser & Garry Architects, Gluckman Mayner Architects, HOK, Fall 2006.
  6. Vesta 24; Garrett Gourlay Architects and James D’Auria Associates, April 2006.
  7. Marianne Boesky Gallery Deborah Berke & Partners Architects, September 2006.
  8. West 23rd Street building Neil M. Denari Architects, Marc Rosenbaum, Gruzen Samton, 2008.
  9. General Theological Seminary Tower The Polshek Partnership, no completion date.
  10. High Line 519; ROY Co., late 2006
  11. West 19th Street building Ateliers Jean Nouvel, no completion date.
  12. IAC Headquarters Gehry Partners, March 2007.
  13. 516 West 19th Street Selldorf Architects, 2008
  14. The Caledonia Handel Architects, 2008.
  15. Chelsea Market Residence Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects
  16. The Standard, NY The Polshek Partnership, 2007. High Line Club Developers Charles Blaichman and André Balazs, no completion date
  17. Pier 57 Michel De Fournier and Gensler, no completion date
  18. Dia High Line; Roger Duffy/SOM, 2008.

The health and prosperity of the world are at stake in this century. Planning, architecture, urban design, and engineering must become one discipline. It must take power to build connections to a far broader set of responsibilities. The need to produce so we don’t fail our kids, and their kids are now. Are the steps taken by these projects enough?

Are public agencies overwhelmed? Can they force the building of the city that should be built, or managing the one that can be built by those this limited imagination and concise term interests. Our public bodies have enormous authority. They miss opportunities to correct imbalances, leverage resources, and eliminate errors for the lack of political will and the ability to take power?

Anyone what to upgrade this with a starchitecture review?