The fourth industrial revolution

So in terms of industrial revolutions, where are we up to and what does it mean. The World Economic Forum has one view which is worth considering. This article was published in the World Economic Forum and can be found by following this link https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-what-it-means-and-how-to-respond

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Agricultural decline on the monaro

Over five decades the farmers of the Monaro have witnessed the hand of creative destruction first hand. As new industries have moved in they have at first been divisive and later more embracing. The water industry of the 1950s came like a hand of invasion, but the tourism industry that it spawned has added new life and opportunity.

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Disruptive processes and the world around us

Everywhere we see the results of change. Changes to technology, changes to the economy, changes to our environment, changes to how we relate to each other. During the past couple of years we have seen significant issues in our manufacturing sector, transport sector and banking and finance sectors.

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Intro

The Armchair Geographer is set up to allow geographers and allied interests to involve themselves in the education of the general public using video and internet technology.

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Why support Light Rail for Canberra?

At the time of writing there is significant debate in Canberra about whether or not light rail should be built in the northern suburbs of Canberra to connect residents with the city centre. Of course there are always detractors, who would like to see the government not get involved in the provision of infrastructure that seems to only provide for a few. In this case, some of these detractors are in the south of the city where the land uses are relatively well established. As is the case in many cities the detractors use economics to argue that public transport infrastructure is not a viable option. On many occasions, much of this distraction comes from self interest, either in the form of people who want to protect their existing car transport infrastructure, sometimes in the form of the car lobby, or in the form of people who are worried about increases to rates. Very often there will be legitimate or quasi-legitimate arguments that the money could be more profitably spent on something like a new hospital. Governments, of course, have to make some very difficult decisions. It would seem that the choice of expenditure on a public transport system would not weigh as heavily on the minds of the community as the choice of putting some money into social infrastructure like a hospital or a school. But it has...

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Theme 3 getting the vision right

Viv Straw is the President of the Planning Institute Australia (ACT Division). This is the third in a series of articles exploring Themes derived from Randolph Hester and others for development of place/ cities, developing an Australian Ecological Democracy theme. TT: Viv In our first article you talked about four global megatrends, city centre living becoming more popular, technology driving the new economy, a diversity of land uses together and the re-emergence of mass transit as an alternative to connecting people to other parts of the city; in the second you developed the role of vision what comes next? VS: Tony, well the third thing we need is a good governance system. The age of command and control is dead. Successful places will develop a more collaborative approach to delivering city outcomes. This is all about using the community, government, the private sector and the not-for-profit sector to deliver a more diverse future that provides for people to live where they live. It will be all about living, working, accessing recreation and services that are delivered locally. Many will remain in suburbs but the life of the city will be close to its centres and many will want to live in close proximity. Canberra is already a poly centric city which gives it a great skeleton to facilitate this. The century old design and control approach to dividing the...

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2 Getting the drivers right

Viv Straw is the President of the Planning Institute Australia (ACT Division). This is the first in a series of article exploring Themes derived from Randolph Hester and others for development of place/ cities, an Australian Ecological Democracy outcome TT: Viv In our first article you talked about for global megatrends, city centre living becoming more popular, technology driving the new economy, a diversity of land uses together and the re-emergence of mass transit as an alternative to connecting people to other parts of the city; what we need to do to take advantage of these trends? VS: Tony, The first thing we need is a clear vision about the type of city that we want and what we want to get out of the city. I think it’s apparent that the global trend is toward lively mixed-use centres that are walkable, provide employment that is meaningful and give us a healthy lifestyle. But diversity is important too and we have some beautiful suburbs and a city set into a great landscape that already works on a lot of levels. Its framework, thanks to the planners who went ahead of us, is robust and will allow for a lot of change. To develop a vision our civic leaders need to have a clear understanding of the type of city that we want to have: is it to be more...

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1 An introduction to the themes

Viv Straw is the President of the Planning Institute Australia (ACT Division). This is the first in a series of article exploring themes derived from Randolph Hester and others for development of place/ cities, an Australian Ecological Democracy framework. TT: Viv you have some radical ideas about the future of planning in Canberra and our cities in general would you like to explain them to us? VS: Tony, Globally four major trends characterise changes in metropolitan typology. The first of these is urban resurgence which is a function of people moving back to cities. It is common for urban centres to be seen as attractive, lively places to live and work, and as centres of intellectual and creative capacity. The second is the High-tech, global economy which has been a driver of recent economic expansion and new opportunities in cities. The third is a recognition that there is a need to diversify land uses and build solid revenue basis, and the need to create liveable urban centres. And the fourth is a trend towards an increased investment in mass transit or urban transit opportunities and to orient development toward urban transit rather than private commuting options. The convergence of these trends leads to the realisation that a substantial market exists for new forms of walkable, mixed use urban development around new light rail, rail or rapid bus interchanges. More...

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The themes, 6 Summing it up

Viv Straw is the President of the Planning Institute Australia (ACT Division). This is the fifth in a series of articles exploring themes derived from Randolph Hester and others, developing an Australian Ecological Democracy theme. TT: Viv in our first article you talked about four global megatrends, city centre living becoming more popular, technology driving the new economy, a diversity of land uses and the re-emergence of mass transit as an alternative to connecting people to other parts of the city; then you developed the role of vision and GovernanceAnd location and competition and finally communication, but if you have one thing what does it all come down to? VS: Putting it all into context, I think that cities are places where people engage each other, they make things, exchange ideas and generally gather. People in close proximity to each other are productive. TT: But Canberra is not a dense centralised city, so what works for us here? VS: There are lots of very liveable and productive cities around the world that have less than 500,000 people and Canberra is one of them. Canberra is a city in a landscape, but it’s more than that; it is a city of villages that relate together. Civic is perhaps the first among equals, Belconnen, Woden, Tuggeranong, Gungahlin, Queanbeyan are all hubs that work well. TT:So you are selling Canberra, but are...

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Theme 5 Connections

Viv Straw is the President of the Planning Institute Australia (ACT Division). This is the fifth in a series of articles exploring themes derived from Randolph Hester and others, developing an Australian Ecological Democracy theme. TT: Viv in our first article you talked about four global megatrends, city centre living becoming more popular, technology driving the new economy, a diversity of land uses and the re-emergence of mass transit as an alternative to connecting people to other parts of the city; then you developed the role of vision and Governance: what role does location have in all of this? VS: No place exists in isolation; every place is connected to its hinterland, other urban areas, food sources and water supplies and to other people and information. How these connections function is fundamental to the liveability and efficiency of the city. The most liveable cities are ones that facilitate freedom of movement and access for everyone. TT: One of the characteristics of Canberra is that it is incredibly reliant on private transport, how does that affect us? VS: Well there are four parts to this, the internal connections and the connections with the rest of humanity and resources. But we also need physical connections and telecommunications systems. Interestingly, the better our electronics communications become, the more we want to be in close physical proximity to each other. It is so...

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Theme 4 Diversity

Viv Straw is the President of the Planning Institute Australia (ACT Division). This is the fourth in a series of articles exploring themes derived from Randolph Hester and others, developing an Australian Ecological Democracy theme. TT: Viv in our first article you talked about four global megatrends, city centre living becoming more popular, technology driving the new economy, a diversity of land uses together and the re-emergence of mass transit as an alternative to connecting people to other parts of the city; then you developed the role of vision and Governance, so what are we trying to achieve? VS: The modern city draws its vitality and land values from a clever mix of human activity and enterprise that makes cities exciting and accessible. Cities have been described as the greatest achievement of the human race. However cities develop, access to facilities, services, entertainment, work and other people are the most important determinants of land value. The greater the diversity of land uses and opportunities that cities have the more appealing they become. TT: One of the characteristics of Australian cities is that they are incredibly liveable, most people put this down to our leafy suburbs, are you trying to change that? VS: No, I think this is a matter of adding more opportunities to our urban environment rather than diminishing the quality of our suburbs. There will always be...

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It is a myth that car useres pay more in taxes than is spent on roads

PTUA logo http://www.ptua.org.au/images/titlelogo.gif Common Urban Myths About Transport Myth: Motorists pay more in taxes and fees than is spent on roads Fact: Part of the problem here is the underlying premise: just as we don’t expect all money collected from gamblers to be spent on casinos, or all money collected from liquor excise to be spent on pubs, so we shouldn’t expect all money collected from motorists to be spent on roads. But in any case, the smallest credible estimate for the total cost of the road system in Australia is $52 billion a year, of which $35 billion a year is collected in taxes and charges on motorists, leaving a ‘road deficit’ of at least $17 billion a year. It’s often claimed by the RACV and other road lobbyists that the cost of roads is only a small percentage of what Australian motorists pay in fuel tax, registration and other fees. This is untrue: in fact, taxes and charges on motorists fail to cover the cost to the public of car use. The confusion arises because of the peculiarities of our federal system, where the Federal Government collects most of the tax revenue, but state and local governments are responsible for most of the spending. Headline-grabbing figures for fuel tax are easy to obtain simply because there are well over 10 million motorists in Australia, so if each...

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The Role of Place

The fundamental question asked by geographers is “does it make a difference where things are located?” The answer is; absolutely, yes… And this is where things become interesting, because different behaviorism, cultural, economic and political responses lead to different solutions even in similar environments. How we resolve our relationship with the environment is essential to our very survival, but importantly to how we experience life. People mostly go to places because of work and for every place there is a dominant economic driver, but for lots of places it can be difficult to pick out the primary drivers from the others. But it is still a good place to begin. I think places either; make stuff, traffic in stuff, or control stuff, This discussion is about why things happen where they happen! The drivers part one. Economics of place. Of course there’s more than economics to a city and in the second part we will talk about the second layer. The second layer is about attitudes. Attitude is shaped by; social and cultural moors, relationships and Environment. Cities consume resources. Places that make things either get them from the ground or value add to raw materials. Some of our most valued resources are located in remote communities, that until recently were difficult to secure, that until recent times where the subject of intense military campaigns. Today these campaigns are...

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