Brent Toderian- Downtown Cities

22 04 2013

Keynote speaker Brent Toderian (@BrentToderian), Consulting City Planner + Urbanist at TODERIAN UrbanWORKS discussing the concept of “density done well” at DSA’s 2013 State of Downtown Economic Forum on February 13, 2013 at the Seattle Westin.

Well worth 20 minutes of your time, and plenty to consider about how we create Winning Cities…


Take a Break, Have a KitKat (and five minutes of disconnected peace!)

21 04 2013


Cities around the globe are waking up to the benefits of public WiFi, and we are on our way to joining them here in Mandurah. Public access to wifi has wide ranging benefits. It means we can get through that tedious report or cram that university assignment whilst sitting under a cafe umbrella drinking a Latte (good for me, good for local business!). It creates tourist traffic, and gives the opportunity for direct marketing to potential customers within a precinct. It gives people a chance to connect with each other, and with those around the world. I’m a big fan of modern infrastructure like public WiFi. I think it paves the way for innovative Cities, and ensures we keep up with the expectations of our Community.

Having said that, I often hear people talk about the challenges we face as an ‘always on’ society. Does being ‘ever connected’ give us less of a reason to smile and chat to the person sitting across from us? Does it give us an opportunity to have a break, without the pressure of checking those emails, or getting a quick update from our favourite social networks like Twitter and Facebook? (Maybe for some its resisting the urge to take a ‘selfie’ on instagram!). With these tools and applications at your fingertips, the temptation to always ‘make another connection’ is just a touchscreen away.

Good points! So how do we get a balance?

Recognising this dilemma, the City of Amsterdam in collaboration with the confectionary company KitKat, have come up with the innovative idea of setting up WiFi-free zones in the centre of their City. Essentially these WiFi free zones are Benches with signal jammers that block WiFi for a radius of 5 metres so you can sit, relax and be fully offline. What a cool idea.

Often our innovations can create new challenges for us, such as those generated by the WiFi discussions. This Amsterdam project is a perfect demonstration that a little creative thinking and an outside the box mentality can generate sound solutions to these challenges.

With Mandurah not far from getting WiFI, what do you think?

Good excuse for a KitKat I think!

Cr Rhys Williams