Assessing sustainable community development proposals

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Purpose – Diabetes mellitus is the most common non-communicable medical condition worldwide, yet little is known about the relationship this disease has to the built environment. The purpose of this paper is to throw some much needed light on the matter by shifting attention away from the epidemiology of the medical condition and towards the anthropology of the unhealthy lifestyles whose habit-persistent practices are associated with the spread of the disease. Design/methodology/approach – The paper reviews the delicate relation between diabetes, unhealthy lifestyles and built environments. It discusses the potential of smart city technologies to promote healthy lifestyles, particularly for diabetic patients. Findings – Smart cities currently being developed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) do not highlight the health-related benefits of their design and layout and there are currently no plans for the community to address the unhealthy lifestyles of existing neighbourhoods as part of a sustainable urban development programme. So, realising the health-related benefits of smart city neighbourhoods in the KSA shall be challenging. Research limitations/implications – In attempting to tackle diabetes, cities not only need to be “green and lean” in planning the healthy lifestyles they set out for the development of communities, but also “get smart” about the digital technologies and platform of electronically enhanced services which are required to meet the design and layout challenges smart city neighbourhoods pose. Originality/value – Gulf and Saudi cities should adopt the IntelCities analogy, so the virtual planning and development of “smart city neighbourhoods”, along with their design and layout of buildings, can tackle the underlying causes.
Thesis (M.C.P.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2008. Includes bibliographical references (p. 53-56). Citywide sustainability planning creates a vision of how environmental concerns will shape urban development, but the way these plans are incorporated into individual development projects plays a large role in determining how that vision will be achieved in practice. I propose a system for evaluating the extent to which individual urban development projects contribute to urban environmental sustainability and use it to evaluate the proposed redevelopment of Willets Point, Queens, in New York City. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made sustainability a major part of his agenda during his administration, and calls the Willets Point project a model of sustainable development. The plans for the redevelopment, however, fail to address several aspects of sustainable development as I define it, and address others only weakly. I argue that in order to achieve strong sustainability, cities must use major projects like Willets Point to rethink how they will develop, and should maximize such projects' contributions to sustainable development. by Siobhan Watson. M.C.P.
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