Ways in Which Urban Innovation Can Aid To Address Socioeconomic Disparities and Support Smart Growth


Although many disparities exist among the individuals that live in urban areas, emerging contemporary urban innovation can reduce these inequalities, and support smart urban growth. Urban is the setting that describes or recounts the features of a city or a town (Osorio & Ozkazane, 2014). Correspondingly, it defines an area that is densely populated where massive and speedy development is experienced. Innovation entails the introduction of novel ideas, strategies, and approaches to new goods and service that create value that has some advantages (Booker, 2013). Innovation is achieved through efficient technology as well as the readily available products and services in the market. The outcome of the innovative ideas is fascinating and thus easily absorbed into the market and the society because of their penetrative power. As such, urban innovation is the process of transforming, altering and changing urban infrastructure and systems by use of creative concepts and ideas (Balasescu, 2011). Moreover, it enhances the process of solving the challenges that face urban areas. Urban innovation utilizes contemporary technologies to support entrepreneurial ideas. Modern, cities and towns focus on innovative developments that are capable of realizing sustainability. 

Urban social, economic disparities entail inequalities regarding income, education, occupation among other parameters (Osorio & Ozkazane, 2014). It is frequently conceptualized as the class or social standing involving groups of people or an individual. Examining continuous variables or gradients reveals inequalities in distribution and access to resources in the urban population. People with low social, economic status are characterized by poverty, poor education, and poor health that ultimately affect the communities that live in cities (Rodin, 2007). Social, economic disparities have continued to increase in many towns and cities. Technological, behavioral and social science professionals have studied and identified socioeconomic disparities in urban centers for both societal and individual levels. Accordingly, strategies and necessary interventions ought to be placed to alleviate the inequalities (Kemp, 2007).

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Socioeconomic disparities can be identified through examining lifestyles and behaviors of groups or an individual. Lifestyle involves the way of life of the people (Booker, 2013). As such, lifestyles includes resources spent by individuals that could be identified by shopping behavior, quality of food taken, quality of education attained and other parameters. Moreover, actions taken by individuals as well as the resources dedicated to achieve and maintain good health could be used to identify the lifestyle of urban communities (Osorio & Ozkazane, 2014). Health utilization and access are highly aligned with the social, economic status of individuals. Health factor also includes mortality, morbidity indicators as well as the presence and impacts of communicable and non-communicable diseases (Balasescu, 2011). 

The quality of housing and the neighborhood is significant features that can be used to depict the socioeconomic status of urban dwellers (Rodin, 2007). As well, review and assessment of unemployment, as well as the amount of income that comes from opportunities that exist in urban areas, could provide valuable data that can be used to access the level of social, economic disparities (Balasescu, 2011). The quality of available jobs, payment, and conditions of the working environment has enormous consequences to the lifestyle as well as the ability to access vital community needs. The nature and the level of reliability existing infrastructure that includes, roads, institutions such as schools, recreations centers, health centers and other social amenities are the necessary parameter that could be used to identify social, economic disparities (Booker, 2013). Correspondingly, available data that may provide information regarding the level of pollution, environmental hazards and the quality of waste disposal is significant.

The process of identification of the members of the community who have been affected by socioeconomic factors can be ascertained in various ways (Balasescu, 2011). These techniques include finding out the level of investments in public institutions, public goods, welfare and the nature of inequalities that exist between these facilities and private facilities. The information obtained can be used to ascertain the level of stratification in the society and hence the level of disparities (Osorio & Ozkazane, 2014). For instance, one may find out the numbers of expertise, the value of facilities and quality of leadership in public hospitals or education institutions among others. Correspondingly, identification of disparities could be carried out thorough consideration of the inequalities that exist in racial, ethnic lines and other types of society stratification. Some of the disparities related to the race and ethnic differences include health, housing, neighborhood, income education and the opportunities that the individuals can access (Rodin, 2007). Identification could also be established through analyzing the research that has been carried out in the community involving socioeconomic disparities.

Sustainable urban innovations are one of the most valuable factors that can be used to reduce social, economic disparities (Booker, 2013). One of the challenging factor facing lower incomes individuals is that fact that they are unable to meet daily expenses. The reason is due to the increase in expenditure in the form of payable bills such as energy bills. As such, sustainable innovations would reduce expenditures incurred through paying high energy bills. A residential energy audit, energy retrofit, and weatherization can lead to the reduction in energy bills; provide job opportunities and make homes safer (Booker, 2013). For instance, Weatherization entails making homes of low-income earners more energy efficient by protecting the house from elements such as precipitation, sunlight, and the wind by modifying and sealing cracks, holes, air ducts to avoid loss of heat. Pipes are also treated and repaired to protect them from corrosion among other practices (Osorio & Ozkazane, 2014). These activities reduce energy expenditure and create employment because the contracts are funded by the government and non-governmental organizations. 

A residential energy audit, energy retrofit entails carrying out the regular inspection on the rate of energy consumption in the house. These innovations utilize integrative designs to analyze construction process. (Balasescu, 2011). Some of the public schools use a lot of energy in a single year on energy. An innovative approach that involves installation of solar electricity on carports and school rooftops can be implemented. An averaged school could install solar panels that can provide up to 2.6 megawatts of energy. Such investments could be supported by state governments, private agencies and other willing companies (Booker, 2013). Such innovation would alleviate the burden of paying the huge cost of energy by parents and guardians from economically disadvantaged communities. 

Consequently, innovation such as the green and health homes initiative could lead to the reduction in air pollution (Booker, 2013). Such innovation involves home repairs and renovations to enhance proper ventilation, energy efficient and safety to ensure that families live in improved houses. The model offers to relieve for families seeking improved housing intervention program (Palma, 1994). Families living in low and moderate income homes may access convenient, expedient and decidedly operative home repairs. As such, the innovation in these houses will reduce health and energy expenditure thus improving the life of lower income families (Osorio & Ozkazane, 2014). The installation will also provide employment to the youth and other forms of training to the members of the family on health issues and other safety matters.

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Innovation also ought to target food affordability and quality. Some of the disadvantaged members of the urban community do not access quality and health food. As such the incidences of diseases increase reduce capacity to work, learn, diminished quality of life and shorten lifespan (Marshall, 1995). Innovations that can support food availability include establishing city food policy, technologically supported urban agriculture and introduction of health corner store next school. These innovations will enhance the food availability especially introduction of technologically supported urban agriculture (Balasescu, 2011). The urban farming initiative could be carried out on empty public land and home compounds. Such food substances include fruits and vegetables that are very significant regarding health. Innovations will enhance not only availability but will improve food education that will enable members of the public to learn to consume health food that is useful to their health (Booker, 2013).

Correspondingly, innovation may include creativity that could enhance to developing entrepreneurial activities (Kemp, 2007). These activities will enable economically disadvantaged populations to improve their way of life. Some of the strategies include enhancing individuals’ talents and perfecting in these areas such as art, music, games performances through entertainment and other activities (Osorio & Ozkazane, 2014). These innovations may not require massive capital investments but may be one of the most productive activities that can reduce disparities. Others useful innovations include facilitating transport are enhancing city inhabitants to use bicycles and public transport. This approach would lead to a reduction in pollution as compared to when more individual will use their means of transportation. At the same time, use of bicycles would save on cost and at the same time enhances zero emission of greenhouse gasses (Balasescu, 2011). Thus, saving money spend on transport would indirectly improve the standard of living and enhance the availability of fresh air. Air pollution constitutes one of the chief causes of illness and climate change (Booker, 2013). One of the urban disparities identified is the inability to cater for huge health costs that are associated with both communicable and non-communicable diseases.      

Urban Smart Growth entails the method that utilizes urban transportation and planning theory, to improve and inspire urban communities, to enhance a combination of buildings and their applications. The Smart Growth seeks to promote most appropriate approaches to creating urban centers that are workable and compact and by preventing sprawl. Sprawl designates the expansion of urban inhabitants away from central urban areas into low-density areas. There are various varieties of housing developed by the specific approach. The options available encourage community engagement and construction of environmentally friendly development within the neighborhood where members of the community live (Osorio & Ozkazane, 2014). Urban Smart Growth is carried out through various policies that include creating many house choices, mix land uses and creating workable opportunities to urban neighborhoods. 

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The innovations that have been analyzed are highly related to the urban smart growth. Sustainable conservation of energy through the residential energy audit, energy retrofit and weatherization can lead to the reduction in energy bills; provide job opportunities and make homes safer (Booker, 2013). These strategies are workable solutions that urban smart growth emphasis to prevent sprawl. Urban disparities are huge causes of sprawling because the disadvantaged individuals or communities seek other alternatives outside the city after becoming desperate with the existing inequalities (Balasescu, 2011). People believe that there are opportunities if they move from where they live to a new place. Air pollution constitutes one of the chief causes of illness and climate change. Some of the proposed innovations include home repairs, reduction in used fuels that could produce large volumes of greenhouse gasses and renovations to enhance proper ventilation. Such practices ensure that families live in improved and safe houses (Palma, 1994). These approaches fall under the planning aspect of smart growth to ensure that members of the community living in city centers have access to fresh air. 

Lack of fresh air is associated with diseases such as asthma move out of the city to look for places with fresh air. Consequently, controlling air pollution could enhance smart growth initiative because individuals would have no reason to relocate (Marshall, 1995). Sprawling may be triggered by the need to carry out agricultural activities due to expansion outside the city. As such, individuals need to be encouraged utilize the small areas available within the town to implement agricultural activities to supplement their diet. Crops such as fruits may not occupy vast space to cultivate. Facilitating public transport and use of other means that do not pollute the environment may be conventional but are ultimately the best approaches to reduce urban air pollution and revitalize cities (Palma, 1994).         

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  1. Balasescu A. (2011). Urbanization and Sustainability
  2. Booker, C. (2013). The city of Newark, Sustainability action plan. Newark city.
  3. Kemp, R. L. (2007). The Inner City. McFarland Company, Incorporated Publishers.
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  6. Palma, D. (1994). Myths about Downtown revitalization. League of California. California. 
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