Because urban nightlife communities have unique needs, major cities across Europe are creating the position of “night mayor” — a chief executive tasked with coordinating and managing the city after dark. Amsterdam created the first night mayor in 2014, recognizing that someone attuned to balancing the crosscutting desires between night businesses and customers, residents, and the daytime government was critical to both keeping the peace and helping to create conditions that will continue to attract human capital to “hip” areas. Paris, Toulouse, and Zurich now have night mayors and London and Berlin are looking into creating the position.
Los Angeles has launched GeoHub, an aggregation of over 500 types of map data to help citizens better understand their communities and to assist city departments in better coordinating infrastructure and public safety efforts. The platform, which pools map data layers from more than 20 different city departments, allows users to create specialized maps to give them real-time information on areas such as road conditions, sanitation, business locations, census boundaries, traffic patterns, inspection status, and utility services.
Washington, DC has launched a new early childhood literacy program to encourage reading from the start of life and decrease the “word gap” between affluent and lower income communities. Under the DC Public Library’s Books From Birth program, children from birth to age five whose families register will be delivered an expertly-selected book once a month. After the books have been read, families can choose to give them to another child, donate them, or keep them. Delivery costs will be supplied by the Dollywood Foundation. Officials predict the initiative could benefit tens of thousands of children. Similar programs have been created in Tennessee and Rhode Island.
In an effort to bridge the challenging language gap between the FDNY and New York City’s rapidly expanding Chinese communities — expected to be the city’s largest immigrant group in the next few years — the department has begun to teach basic Mandarin to firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics. At the scene of an emergency, language barriers can prevent first responders from receiving critical details about a patient's medical history or learning whether another person remains in a burning building. Organizers hope that the program will expand to include other Chinese dialects and Asian languages in the future.
Cambridge, Massachusetts has unveiled the city’s first freestanding permanent outdoor toilet to provide safe and sanitary facilities to residents, visitors, and the homeless population. Modeled after similar public toilets in Portland, Oregon, the graffiti-resistant and environmentally friendly facility will itself serve as a trial run for an upcoming toilet in another part of the city.
To thwart the growing prevalence of drones that are flying into off-limit spaces and creating security situations, police in the Netherlands are testing the use of trained eagles to take them out of the sky. As most drones are smaller than the birds, the raptors are able to easily grasp them with their talons and bring them to earth. Officials expect to decide whether to move forward with the eagles by the end of the year.