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LABCITIES
15 hours ago
LABCITIES
By Joan Torres

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg announced “Facebook's plan to bring the global community together.” A few months earlier, a Swedish billionaire, László Szombatfalvy, established the Global Challenges Foundation and announced a $5-million-dollar prize to solicit ideas for remodeling global cooperation. The timing couldn’t be more symbolic, as many pundits are alarmed by what they see as an unraveling of the international system, exemplified by Brexit and a surge of anti-establishment political movements.

Globalization is vehemently disparaged by a number of prominent politicians, and Francis Fukuyama who, at one point, declared the ‘end of history,’ is now wondering how prepared our institutions really are to withstand a strong backlash. In this context, one could wonder, ‘Do we even need a system for global cooperation’? For me, the answer is a resounding Yes.

Global and regional institutions, such as the U.N. Security Council or the EU, are widely criticized for their shortcomings. Y...

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Julian Sandler
yesterday
Julian Sandler
Smart City Expert

Traffic signs are designed to flag down human drivers, relying on blocky shapes and bold colors to grab our gaze from long distances as we whoosh past at top speed. But how do you train a robot to spot and interpret these signs, in all their mystifying international variations?

That’s one of the many challenges facing autonomous vehicle (AV) pioneers like Google, Uber, et al. as they lay the groundwork for our self-driving automotive future. The sign problem is particularly knotty. The rise of AVs makes a stronger-than-ever case for standardizing traffic signage within national borders (road safety practitioners have long argued for the same thing, for human benefit), and possibly from country to country. Once humanity gives up the keys, we won’t need street signs at all—the robots will communicate with one another, and with the roads themselves, much more efficiently.

But for now, and during the Great Transition, AVs need to understand signs, because they will be sharing the roa...

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LABCITIES
yesterday
LABCITIES
By Joan Torres

The PC revolution, the internet boom, the smartphone economy — all were propelled along by a common set of technological standards. So will a standard platform or operating system be necessary to get autonomous cars rolling, too?

“There is certainly no doubt that many carmakers have expressed the idea that a more standardized platform would be attractive,” said John Wall, a senior vice president at QNX, which develops software that is used in millions of vehicles today.

Car companies have come to realize that existing in-car systems, with their tangled layers of software and morass of hundreds of embedded processors, are slow and overly complex by today’s computing standards. If autonomous cars are ever to become a reality, they will require even more powerful, more fully integrated and upgradable computing platforms, designers say.

Jürgen Schmidt
2 days ago
Jürgen Schmidt
Smart Consultant

Walking the busy paths crossing the lush lawns of Krupp Park, it can be hard to believe this green lung of Essen once was an industrial wasteland.

But in just a decade, Essen has turned the site of an idle Krupp steel factory into a popular nature park. There are playgrounds, a wooded area, and a lake fed with rainwater from the roof of ThyssenKrupp’s corporate headquarters next door.

Krupp Park is just one symbol of Essen’s transformation from a city of coal and steel into a model of environmental consciousness. And it’s one reason why the European Commission declared Essen as Europe’s “Green Capital” for 2017. This is the first time the award has gone to a city with a mining and industrial past, offering a role model for urban areas struggling with the effects of deindustrialization.

But Essen is a city to watch for other reasons as well. The city is making a big push around sustainable mobility, hoping to make big gains for bicycling and transit. Bottom-up initiatives led b...

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Tunde Kallai
2 days ago
Tunde Kallai
Smart City Expert

Do you have innovative solutions to address urban challenges ?

Following the successful first edition of our Smart Cities Innovation Award, Le Monde newspaper invites you to apply in the following categories :
- Urban Innovation : technological and/or social innovation applied to the city.
- Civic Engagement (Le Monde-Inta Award) : initiatives whereby citizens play a role in developing and managing physical and/or virtual urban spaces and services.
- Habitat : innovations in urban living space (residential, offices, new materials, etc).
- Mobility : project that facilitates movement around and in the city at a more human level and in a more economical way.
- Energy : innovation that seeks to reduce the carbon footprint of cities.
- Cultural Action : social and digital innovation with cultural and urban impacts.

The International Awards will be offered in Singapore in June.

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