Smart city news and stories
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Jose Suarez
20 hours ago
Jose Suarez
Smart City Expert

Lately, smart devices have been synonymous with anything that’s network enabled. Whether that be lights (Phillips Hue), thermostats (Nest), or even toothbrushes (Prophix). But it’s more than just the abilities enabled by connecting a device to internet that make it ‘smart’. It’s a combination of services, trust, and ease of use that make a smart device a better choice for a consumer than a dumb one.

François Lambert
23 hours ago
François Lambert
Smart City Expert

The smart city is generally spoken of from the point of view of the practical benefits it brings to everyday life. According to a report by the Uraia organisation, the smart city is also beneficial for the budgets of municipalities involved in the digital transition. “The impact of smart technologies on the municipal budget” report analyses how.
Uraia, the exchange portal between smart cities, launched by the Global fund for the development of cities (FMDV) of which the Brussels-Capital Region is a member, met in April 2016 for a workshop comprising representatives of local governments, city networks, service and technology suppliers, civil society, international organisations and research institutes from various countries. The goal of this workshop was to “discuss current trends regarding the use of smart technologies for greater efficiency in managing and identifying their potential impact on the municipal budget.”

LABCITIES
yesterday
LABCITIES
By Joan Torres

It’s not easy to plan for a world-changing technology that’s both 4 and 40 years away. Could self-driving cars bring on more affordable housing? Should car companies slap a “warning label” on private autos?

But that was the charge to the delegates of the National Summit on Design and Urban Mobility—a convening focused almost solely on anticipating autonomous vehicles, organized by the American Architectural Foundation. For a whirlwind 36 hours in Pittsburgh’s downtown board rooms, more than 100 U.S. local leaders, transport commissioners, engineers, mobility operators, automakers, researchers, and consultants hammered out hopes, fears, and bright ideas for shaping cities when “drive” is no longer an active verb.

The AV alarm bells sounded loudly in plenty of group huddles, full of warnings about an unbridled rise in vehicle miles traveled, nightmarish congestion, a final mass-transit death spiral, and growing equity gaps. Quieter, but still present, was the sense that self-driving technology might be something else: an opportunity to reimagine mobility from the ground up.

The AAF will distill and publish the best ideas in a report coming in June, but here are eight of the best, brightest, and most provocative ideas we heard at the summit.

Jason Black
yesterday
Jason Black
Project Manager

Walt Disney’s EPCOT was, for many, the first glimpse of what a city of the future could look like. It may not have been the vision the man originally envisioned, but the themed land at Walt Disney World encapsulated the ideas of how the future would look through the eyes of late-seventies futurists. While it’s become little more than a curio by modern standards, it set minds alight about what society could look like in the future.

Fast-forward 40 years and some aspects of Disney’s dream have come to pass. Smart homes are slowly creeping into the mainstream as personal assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Echo talk to our Philips Hue lights or connected Sonos speakers. Devices also know a startling amount about our lives, helping organise appointments, find directions or just start our days the way we like.

Smart cities, however, are something far more intangible. Disney’s vision of a car-free city, where monorails transport people from A to B and green open spaces are plentiful, may be a dated utopian idea, but the smart city is a dream that many governments are still chasing. And in this field, one country is ahead of the curve: the island nation of Singapore.

What Singapore is building may not be quite the same as the vision Disney once had, but seeing all 720km of the tropical island as a virtual 3D model, I can’t help but think the forgotten technologist in him would be impressed.

LABCITIES
2 days ago
LABCITIES
By Joan Torres

Many smart cities collect data via fixed monitoring stations that only measure certain areas and can’t be relied upon to keep an eye on fluctuations across an entire city, or even across different sides of the street. But what if infrastructure often dismissed as a congestion-causing nuisance could help create a more nuanced data picture?

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, clunky garbage trucks are already buzzing with all sorts of sensors. Cambridge, in partnership with MIT’s Senseable City Lab, launched a program earlier this year called City Scanner that uses the city’s garbage trucks as roving information gatherers measuring variables including air pollution, infrastructure decay, and traffic.

Although drive-by sensing has been around for at least a decade, the team believes this is the first low-cost and self-sufficient sensing platform that can be easily plugged into urban vehicles. Urban sensing platforms, the team explains, are typically too bulky to install within a vehicle, and often use stationary structures to house the electronics from the elements.

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