Posts Tagged: Medellin

30
Apr

2010

10 Faces of the Medellin Metrocable

Image by AveLardo

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22
Apr

2010

Hotmail and Paradigm Changes

I got my first email account in the summer of 1998. It was a Hotmail account. Someone dragged me to a local café and signed me up. It wasn’t that advanced at the time and I wasn’t overly impressed.

Was email great at the time? Sure it was, but I didn’t see it. I missed the potential and instead focused on the limitations of the service.

To use Hotmail you pretty much needed access to an internet café and had to be willing to spend five bucks for half an hour’s time. Surf the internet? Forget it. You got Hotmail, that’s it. You also needed the patience of a Buddhist monk given how long it could take for a terminal to become available.

Basically I thought email was novelty, nothing more, and I’ve been eating my words ever since. Now I couldn’t imagine my life without it and there now exists people alive today that have never lived in a world without it.

Think about that for a minute.

For you, me and anyone else over the age of 10, email changed our paradigm of communication completely and forever. But for those under the age of 10, they were born into this new paradigm, no change necessary. To them, email is communication and vice versa. Email is as natural to them as colour televisions and dishwashers are to us.

The naysayers and cynics can doubt the emergence cable transit all they want. But they’re wrong . . .

The Medellin Metrocable. Image by Steven Dale.

That paradigm shift’s already happened, it’s just invisible to most people. Yet to a generation of kids in Medellin, gondolas and transit are a natural fit. No change, paradigm shift or persuasion necessary. Why? Because they were born with it.

To them, this entire website would be a complete waste of time.



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12
Apr

2010

Being First

It’s only a matter of time before someone builds an urban gondola or Cable Propelled Transit system in your world. It’s only a matter of when, where and whose first.

I know this because I read dozens of documents and reports from amateurs and professionals alike, answer a fair bit of email and listen to what people are saying. Trust me, it’s only a matter of time.

But that’s not the point. This is:

Every one of these documents I read or reports I correct or people I listen to all say the same thing: That an urban gondola or cable transit system is a guaranteed generator of tourism.

That’s only partly right and guarantees are not guaranteed.

For the city in your world that first installs a fully-integrated cable transit system, yes, the tourism dollars it generates will be large. Huge in fact. But only because the city in question was quick enough and smart enough to be first. For everyone else, forget it. Being first is a zero sum game.

Medellin was first and has reaped the rewards. And it will continue to reap the rewards for decades. Why? Because they were first. They were the original. They were the pioneers. For sure, no city wants to be first but there’s no bonus prize for being second.

Does the casual appreciator of art – the generalist – care about cubism? Probably not. But they’ll pay twenty bucks to see a Picasso.

In South America, cable’s about to become common. Cable’s already spread from Medellin to Caracas and plans are under way for CPT systems in Bogota, Cali, and throughout South America. There is literally so much talk about cable in South America, I can barely keep up.

In 10 years time will people travel to those places because of a gondola? Of course they won’t. People don’t travel thousands of miles to learn about, experience and witness something that’s common. Not when they’ve got one in their own backyard.

Once something is common, people choose instead to seek out the original. Which means if you want your gondola transit system to bear the fruits of tourism, you need to be first.

But wait you’re saying. How can my city be first? It’s no longer possible to be first. Medellin was first. Again, only partly right.

Remember, Medellin was only first in their world. Just as your world is far away from most of the rest of the world, Latin America is far away from most of the rest of the world. Not everyone will have the time and resources to travel to Medellin. That means the race to be first is still on. In your world.

It’s on in North America. It’s on in Sub-Saharan Africa. It’s on in Australasia. It’s on in China. It’s on in India. It’s on in Europe. It’s on in Scandanavia. It’s on in Russia. It’s on in the Caribbean. Smart cities know this and are racing towards the finish line. Foolish cities don’t even know the race is on.

So let’s make it official: The race is on. Be first.



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06
Apr

2010

Eyes On The Street

In her seminal work The Death and Life of Great American Cities, urban theorist Jane Jacobs declared that a safe street or neighborhood was one that had plenty of “eyes” on it. That is, the more people use a street, the safer it becomes. Criminals, after all, don’t like the prying eyes of strangers and locals tend to defend that which is theirs. People, in other words, police themselves.

This concept would become known as Jacobs’ Eyes on the Street theory and in the 50 years since Death and Life‘s original publication, it’s become a bedrock principle of urban planning (though one – arguably – that is rarely adhered to).

This has dramatic implications for urban gondola systems and yet is almost never even considered by the cable transit, public transit and urban planning industries. I never considered it until last month.

Consider Medellin, Colombia’s Santo Domingo Metrocable line.

In the four years since it opened, the once-crime-ridden barrio of Santo Domingo (which the Metrocable serves) has been transformed. Investment is up 300%, job creation has skyrocketed, rents have increased, crime has virtually disappeared and 3 banks have moved into an area. Four years!

(Note how important the bank part is: Banks don’t tend to move into viciously dangerous areas. Doesn’t make for good business.)

The question is why? Why did so much change so quickly? There are many different theories one could posit, but as I see it, there’s one logical theory that holds more water than the others: Eyes on the Street.

If you were planning to commit a crime, would this be the first street you'd consider? Not if you wanted to go to jail. Image by Steven Dale.

How does one commit a crime in a neighborhood that is policed by 8 person gondolas which pass by overhead every 10-15 seconds? Gondolas that are each equipped with a direct-link communications system? Gondolas that are filled with curious onlookers? Who all have cell phones? Who are invisible to the crime’s perpetrators who might otherwise intimidate them out of snitching? How do you successfully commit that crime?

You don’t. Not if you don’t want to get caught.



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26
Mar

2010

The Gondola Revolution

The good people over at Fourstory.org asked me to write a piece on Medellin’s Metrocable and it went live yesterday. Check out The Gondola Revolution.

Special thanks to Tony Chavira for all his help and support. Please take some time to cruise Fourstory’s site, you’ll be well-rewarded.



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21
Mar

2010

One time . . .

One time, it’s a fluke . . . The Roosevelt Island Tram.

Two times, it’s a fad . . . Medellin.

Three times, it’s a trend . . . Portland.

Four times, it’s a movement . . . Caracas.

Five times, it’s a force . . . Next?



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18
Mar

2010

Medellin Metro Map

At the request of one reader, here’s a map of Metro Medellin including Metrocable lines and their transfer points to the Metro system as a whole.

A Map of Metro Medellin. Image by Steven Dale.



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