Annette Kim, a professor at the University of Southern California who researches urbanization, spent last year in China's capital city studying the underground housing market.
"Part of why there's so much underground space is because it's the official building code to continue to build bomb shelters and basements," Kim says. "That's a lot of new, underground space that's increasing in supply all the time. They're everywhere."
She says apartments go one to three stories below ground. Residents have communal bathrooms and shared kitchens. The tiny, windowless rooms have just enough space to fit a bed.
Pedestrians pass a high-rise building being constructed in Beijing
"It's tight," Kim says. "But I also lived in Beijing for a year, and the city, in general, is tight."
With an average rent of $70 per month, she says, this is an affordable option for city-dwellers.
But living underground is illegal, Kim says, since housing laws changed in 2010.
And, in addition, there's a stigma to living in basements and bomb shelters, as Kim found when she interviewed residents above ground about their neighbors directly below.
The major of Paris recently announced an anti-pollution plan (use your favorite translator) that would move a lot of vehicular tracks from Paris by 2020 - with four districts becoming mostly pedestrian zones. She didn't provide many details and it still must be presented to the city council, but it is a dramatic move. Depending on the details and public will it may even be possible.
Waiters, karaoke hostesses, hairdressers, chefs, security guards, domestic workers and kitchen helpers, these basement dwellers are the backbone of Beijing’s service industry. But they have been unkindly dubbed the “rat tribe” for making a home in Beijing’s 6,000 basements and air raid shelters — about one-third of the city’s underground space.
They pay monthly rents of 300 to 700 yuan ($50 to $110) for partitioned rooms of seven to eight square meters, or sometimes, a closet-like space barely wider than a single bed. Some 50 to 100 rooms often share a single bathroom and several toilet cubicles. A chilly draft filters through the tunnels, which are also often dank and moldy in the summers.
But it may now be a matter of time before the basement dwellers face eviction. The government, which had leased the basements out for use since the 1990s, and even liberalized rules in 2004 to make them more accessible and hugely popular as homes to migrant workers, is clamping down.
In mid-December of 2010, the authorities issued new regulations contradicting earlier ones, effectively stopping basement leases from being renewed. Over the next three years, the authorities will gradually shutter the underground homes, which are now deemed “unsafe, dirty and chaotic,” a civil defense officer said.
It makes me suspicious that Uber early round investors and cheerleaders are wealthy urbanites. There are serious scaling and social issues for the suburbs - not to mention the growing perception of evil… Of course the company is aggressive enough that they’ll probably expand into other business that commoditize people and transport may be moot, but there seems to be serous sampling bias error potential within the investor set.
It is, I believe, the only location where the democratic will of the people was deemed to be more important than the perceived financial interests of the markets. We could discuss, as was done five years ago or so, whether this was wise and there were lots of people, not just so-called experts and financial authorities but also governments all over Europe who were telling us we were absolutely wrong; that this was a crazy path to follow because it went against the established orthodoxy.
As Greg points out we aren't very good at recognizing and dealing with real risk. Sometimes real risk is lowered without fanfare - here we see over 15,000 people being saved a year, but there is still a long way to go. Focusing on fixing it would probably save money overall and would be more significant than our war on terror in contributing to the well-being of citizens.
Hospitals reported 1.3 million fewer hospital-acquired infections in all between 2011-2013 compared to the rate of mistakes that hospitals made in 2010, according to the report from the Department of Health and Human Services. That represented a 17 percent drop in hospital errors from 2010, but about 12 percent of all hospitalizations as of 2013 still experienced an adverse event during the course of care.
The reduction of these avoidable incidents — such as falls, pressure ulcers, adverse drug events and more — meant $12 billion in savings to the health-care system between 2011 and 2013, according to HHS.
A widely cited Institute of Medicine report from 1999 estimated that hospital errors kill as many as an estimated 98,000 people each year — which critics often point out is the equivalent of two fully packed 737s crashing each day. Government officials said they couldn't exactly explain what's behind the drop in hospital errors, but they gave broad credit to increasing public and private efforts to reduce patient harm.
They pointed to new financial incentives for hospitals to keep patients healthier — such as a Medicare penalty on providers that experience excessive readmissions — and a three-year-old public-private initiative, known as the Partnership for Patients, designed to spread best practices for making hospital care safer. Some health insurers in recent years have also stopped paying for hospitals' mistakes.