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LABCITIES
5 hours ago
LABCITIES
By Joan Torres

The city of the future is going to be cool, with smart tech that helps you live your life.

But no one knows exactly what the fantastical city we've been dreaming about looks like, how it'll work and what it'll do.

Take car companies, for example. When they dreamed up their ideal smart city, they imagined sensor networks in roads that told commuters the perfect time to head to work, allowed cars to self-drive to their destinations and even automatically park in a garage. Some of those innovations are already here.

Apps for Apple's iPhone and mobile devices powered by Google's Android software can alert drivers when they should leave for an appointment and suggest the best route to get you where you're going. Meanwhile, tech companies like Uber, Alphabet and Apple and car makers including Ford are playing with self-driving technology that could be in production in the next five years.

Since those issues are largely being tackled by companies, city governments are focusing th...

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Jean-Paul Rouge
yesterday
Jean-Paul Rouge
Independent professional

When a short trial of an autonomous bus first ran in Helsinki, Finland, in 2016, most riders saw it as a novelty. But by this fall, if you work in downtown Helsinki, you might start riding the city’s robo-bus as part of your daily commute. The city is one of a handful to launch a longer-term trial of the technology, running along a regular bus route.

“If we want to get real data, we need to have it in an area where the same people will be every day,” says Harri Santamala, who directs a smart mobility program at Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and is coordinating Sohjoa, a joint project that is testing the autonomous shuttles. “So we are now aiming toward the local people, feeding them to the tram or metro lines… We need strong, long-term experiences of how people will really use an autonomous bus, and what happens when the novelty value of the bus wears off.”

The tiny bus, which can hold 12 passengers and travels at a sedate seven miles an hour–slower than an average cyclist–runs on electricity. If someone cuts in front, it stops itself; like other autonomous vehicles, it holds the promise of reducing or even eliminating traffic deaths. In trials, a human is onboard in case of emergency, but in a driverless future, it will be cheap enough to operate that it can fill in transit gaps, helping people drive less. That time may be nearly here; cities just have to take a few more steps to understand how the technology can best be used.

LABCITIES
2 days ago
LABCITIES
By Joan Torres

One day, I’d like to design a truly modern, functional city with the character of a medieval hill town.

Rather than a blueprint, I’d like to design a series of recipes for how to create it, from the community to individual human level, from street plans to door handles. This outlines how and why that approach could work, compared to how cities are designed today.

If you designed a fruitcake the way buildings are, you would specify the coordinates of every nut and raisin. Every cake would look the same and there would be something distinctly non artisanal about it.

But cakes aren’t designed, they are created from recipes and the end result is slightly different for each one because of the action of the person applying the recipe and subtle variations in the environment. The more a product made from a recipe is connected to individual human interaction and its local environment, the more local and artisanal it looks, and people often pay a premium for hand made artisanal products rather than factory made ones.

To summarise: things made from a recipe rather than a design have more character, and hand made things made from recipes have even more character, still.

James Bell
2 days ago
James Bell
Smart City Expert

Smart cities need smart transport services. Proper movement of people, goods and services accelerate the growth and development of a region. A well planned and efficiently managed transport network is a must for any society.

LABCITIES
3 days ago
LABCITIES
By Joan Torres

Electric car grids, smart parking, crowdsensing, digitized education, smart lighting – these are among many concepts that top global cities are pursuing to improve the experiences of citizens and businesses. Using the latest technologies, local governments are addressing pain points that are top of mind for their citizens.

For example, In The Netherlands, Amsterdam is one of the highest traffic regions so the city launched its own “virtual traffic manager” which tracks and controls the entire national traffic system in a centralized system. Because of this initiative, Amsterdam natives spend ten percent fewer hours in vehicles. Digital change takes time and resources, but many cities around the world are paving the way for what will be the future standard of city living.

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