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LABCITIES
last week
LABCITIES
By Joan Torres

Google parent company Alphabet Inc.’s plan to build a smart city on Toronto’s waterfront may soon see the light of day.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Sidewalk Labs LLC, a subsidiary of Alphabet, is nearing a deal with the Canadian city to develop a 12-acre section of the eastern waterfront into a digital downtown.

The board of Waterfront Toronto, the agency overseeing the Quayside project, as it’s called, is expected to vote at a meeting on October 20 whether to approve the agency’s recommendation to partner with Sidewalk Labs resulting from a competitive bid process after a request for proposals was launched in May, according to the Toronto Star.

Quayside, whose website envisions the district as “an exemplary waterfront community that achieves precedent-setting standards of sustainability, resiliency, innovation, inclusivity and design excellence,” is an attractive site for Sidewalk, which has been searching for a home for over a year.

LABCITIES
yesterday
LABCITIES
By Joan Torres

"Smart society" is a concept we use to describe a future where people will use technology to solve problems and support better living for everyone. It is not the same for everyone as it depends on the particular needs of each country.

For Germany is based on industrial automation, while in Japan is focused on the integration of the physical and digital space to support an aging society and unlock radical innovation in the Japanese industry.

Singapore is one of the most advanced Smart countries and their vision of the future is "one where people are empowered by technology to lead meaningful and fulfilled lives".

Giovanni Silva
3 days ago
Giovanni Silva
Smart City Expert

A lot of writing and research on autonomous vehicles (AVs) has focused on technology and deployment (for example, this recent article that speculates about which automaker is better situated to develop AVs). Less attention has been directed at identifying and addressing potential secondary impacts, such as the consequences of AV deployment for urban design. Secondary implications could end up being the largest obstacles to the successful rollout of AVs—particularly with regard to the disruption, and direct backlash, the rollout will create. These secondary implications also highlight the importance of scenario and uncertainty planning.

In this context, the Transportation Research Board recent hosted an "Urbanism Next" workshop at the Autonomous Vehicles Symposium (AVS 2017), which the authors helped organize, to examine the potential impacts of AVs and the sharing economy on e-commerce, city form, design, and development. While AVS 2017 focused on AV technology (e.g., their operatin...

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LABCITIES
last week
LABCITIES
By Joan Torres

Guo Baichun, the Vice Mayor of the City of Yinchuan, gave some personal insights into the pressures of being in office in a smart city. He said that people often ask what the motivation is behind making this relatively small city of 200,000 people in the western region of China into one of the country’s showcase smart cities.

Baichun noted that it’s not a motivation, so much as the result of the daily pressures of his job and the need to find solutions to serve citizens better. He outlined how his day starts with lines of people waiting at his office with documents for him to sign and expecting immediate decisions. He said it is too difficult to make the right decisions in a short time and some mayors control risk by circulating the documents to the relevant departments for comment, but typically they come back a couple of months later with little that is of help.

LABCITIES
13 hours ago
LABCITIES
By Joan Torres

Earlier this year, Dubai announced its intention to turn itself into the first blockchain-powered government in the world by 2020.

These ambitions are part of the emirate's goal of becoming a global business hub, with next-generation technology playing a key role in delivering this vision.

Although most blockchain initiatives are still in their early phases, Gartner's annual Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies report, predicts that in the "long-term... this technology will lead to a reformation of whole industries".

It's an optimism that has spread to multiple businesses, governments and entrepreneurs in Dubai.

In 2016, more than 30 government entities and international companies came together to launch the Global Blockchain Council.

Its members later announced various proof-of-concept projects, covering everything from health records and shipping, to business registrations and efforts to use blockchain technology to try and reduce the spread of conflict diamonds.

LABCITIES
3 days ago
LABCITIES
By Joan Torres

Smart cities, which were once confined to the realms of science fiction books, are rapidly becoming a reality all around the globe. Unfortunately, like all revolutionizing innovations, smart cities are developing their own unique challenges alongside of their perks. So what are industry insiders and tomorrow’s city planners doing to face these challenges?

The security issues facing smart cities are unlike anything ever before seen, and solutions to these problems haven’t yet sprung up en masse, meaning many different interest groups have proposed their own respective plans. By combing through some of today’s proposed solutions, we can identify some of the leading trends that will come to dominate the future of smart city security.

Jason Black
yesterday
Jason Black
Project Manager

A new study by Juniper Research has identified the top 10 smart cities in the UK, with London topping the list. The analysis was conducted over a range of city indices, including transport, healthcare, public safety, energy and productivity. Scores were calculated according to diverse metrics, including present state-of-play variables (such as congestion and crime levels) alongside smart city rollouts, vision and long-term strategy.

LABCITIES
6 days ago
LABCITIES
By Joan Torres

On an electricity grid, electrons generated from the sun, wind, or other renewable sources are indistinguishable from those generated by fossil fuels. To keep track of how much clean energy is produced, governments around the world have created systems based on tradable certificates.

Problem is, the way we manage these certificates “sucks,” and it’s holding up investment in renewable power, says Jesse Morris, an energy expert at the Rocky Mountain Institute. A new system based on blockchain, the technology at the heart of Bitcoin and other digital currencies, could fix this, he says.

Keeping track of renewable-energy certificates is one of dozens of potential applications of blockchain technology that could solve data management challenges in the electricity sector without disrupting business as usual, according to Morris. He and many others believe that in the long term, the technology could help transform the very architecture of the grid itself.

A blockchain is a shared, encrypted ledger that is maintained by a network of computers. These computers verify transactions—in the case of Bitcoin, the transfer of cryptocurrency between individual users. Each user can access the ledger, and there is no single authority. Advocates say the technology could be especially promising in industries where networks of peers—electricity producers and consumers, connected via the grid, for instance—depend on shared sets of data.

LABCITIES
4 days ago
LABCITIES
By Joan Torres

Every year more and more municipalities around the world launch various Open Data initiatives in an attempt to align with modern neoliberal ideals of a progressive and transparent city.

For example, The Open Government Partnership launched in 2011 with just 8 participating countries “to make governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens”, now has more than 75 members. Another initiative - What Works Cities - now works with 90 mid-sized American cities to “enhance their use of data and evidence to improve services, inform local decision-making and engage residents.”

And it is clearly not for nothing - there are good reasons why cities should provide Open Data:

1. Open Data will increase transparency and reduce corruption. While this is a long term game, it is critical to start building an open society and system today.
2. Open Data will help modernize a municipality's internal mindset. A change in mindset is great for the city leadership and for cities as or...

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Jaime González
5 days ago
Jaime González
Independent Professional

The GCC region has been witnessing transformation on an unprecedented scale in the last few years, with economic challenges and technological progress having a combined effect on the nature of change.

Arguably, one of the main aspects of this transformation is the move towards becoming ‘smart’, with most regional governments aggressively expanding the adoption of new technologies as they strive to increase efficiencies and ease the lives of their populations.

The definition of a smart city varies from place to place, according to Fadi Salem, research fellow at the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG).

In some cases, the goal is purely to increase the technological implementation and the number of apps, he says, in a focus that is more about ‘digitising’ and making things electronic than focussing on
other measures.

Other smart cities, however, look beyond technology transformation towards issues including quality of life, access to data and efficiency and sustainability measures that can be achieved using technological means.

Obviously the latter is the model that cities should strive to follow, argues Salem, and in that sense Dubai has stood out in the region for its well-defined strategy on becoming smart, with a clear goal and time-bound objectives.

James Bell
3 days ago
James Bell
Smart City Expert

Sydney is the most populated city in Australia. Predictions estimate the number will increase twofold by the year 2050. Considering the demographics, Sydney is yet to build a sustainable future to meet the quality demands of the present and the coming generations. Artificial intelligence, internet of things (IoT) and big data are still in the light of infancy – exploring the opportunities and possibilities that could lead the city to smart and sustainable living.

James Bell
yesterday
James Bell
Smart City Expert

In Boston innovation is the key to revitalise the way people live, work and play. It is one of the first cities in the region to adopt experimental smart plans and that’s what makes it a game changer in the smart city race. Over the years, Boston has learned to become more innovative and sustainable – winning the title of the most energy-efficient city in the US.

Today, the City of Boston is inviting IoT developers and technology innovators both from the public and private sector to put forward ideas that can improve the quality of life for people and make the city more liveable. Few of the ideas the city is working on are discussed further.

Julian Sandler
4 days ago
Julian Sandler
Smart City Expert

The lure of living in a technologically advanced community appeals to many Americans, although many don't quite understand what the term smart city means, according to a new report from CompTIA.

The Building Smarter Cities and Communities report, which surveyed both private citizens and US government officials, showed that six out of 10 Americans are interested in living in a smart city.

James Bell
last week
James Bell
Smart City Expert

The city and county of San Francisco have years long history that represents the active engagement of the government in cultivating habits that improve the environmental conditions in a smart city. The chronological achievements of the city mentioned below reflect the smart city initiatives advancing in the region:

LABCITIES
last week
LABCITIES
By Joan Torres

This is what the street of the future looks like.

So says a prediction from the Smart Cities Council, a government supported group mapping out the future of urban development in Australia.

The visualisation shows sci-fi-style technology like flying cars, stackable bicycle stands and Blade Runner-inspired holographic projections.

The Smart Cities display at Sydney's Circular Quay depicts a future using technology that already exists – self-driving public transport, electric cars and interactive games as play equipment.

Jason Black
last week
Jason Black
Project Manager

The modern trend towards urbanisation is steadfast, writes Haider Iqbal, the director for IoT in Public Services and Transport at Gemalto. Today, 54% of people worldwide live in cities, a proportion that is expected to reach 66% by 2050, according to United Nations projections.

Urbanisation combined with the overall population growth will add another 2.5 billion people to cities over the next three decades. To keep pace with expansion, sustainability is must. More than 190 countries have pledged to meet agreed goals for sustainable growth and the smart city concept holds the key to success.

While there are many definitions, a smart city is essentially an intelligent and complex framework encompassing connected objects and machines that send data to the cloud where intelligence is managed and analysed to help municipalities and businesses make better decisions and improve citizens’ lives. Municipalities and their private sector partners are launching smart street lights, parking m...

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Jürgen Schmidt
last week
Jürgen Schmidt
Smart Consultant

The report ‘Towards New Urban Mobility: The case of London and Berlin’ provides insight into how urban transport policy can better leverage new and emerging mobility choices in cities. Drawing on the LSE Cities/InnoZ household survey of 1,000 residents each in Berlin and London, it investigates how people’s attitudes towards transport modes, technology and travel frame their willingness to adopt new and more sustainable forms of transport.

The study demonstrates how London and Berlin have both seen a pronounced trend towards new urban mobility with considerable increases in walking, cycling, public and shared transport, as well as substantial reductions in car use and ownership. It reveals that less than one in six residents in each city display a strong identification with car use and ownership, for reasons primarily including higher costs, adequate alternatives and environmental concerns. Such shifts have been accompanied by a large proportion of residents in both cities showing openness to new mobility services with travel applications being used almost daily by one in four of the respondents who owned smartphones.

LABCITIES
last week
LABCITIES
By Joan Torres

Parking and traffic congestion are constant sources of frustration for drivers, merchants, employers and public officials in cities worldwide. For this reason, smart parking services are top of mind with public officials, parking agencies, IT and innovation executives. Many smart city projects incorporate a smart parking element.

While smart parking solutions improve visibility for drivers and parking enforcement officers, that is not where the real innovation lies. In a previous article, I wrote that IoT innovation is not in the solution. It is in what it allows organizations to become – agile, intelligent, and adaptive.In the age of “smart” and the Internet of Things (IoT), it’s easy to see why smart parking solutions are considered innovative. Sensors embedded in the ground, or cameras mounted on light poles or building structures, determine whether the parking spaces are occupied or available. This data is routed wirelessly to a gateway, and relayed to a central cloud-based smart parking platform. It is combined with data from other sensors to create a real time parking map.

James Bell
6 days ago
James Bell
Smart City Expert

The big cities of the modern era are singing new tunes of smart city trends – constantly discovering new ideas and ingenious innovations that can fortify the future of these urban areas that consume 75% of the globally available resources. One among these cities is the capital of Germany, Berlin, where a mix of smart initiatives are hooking up businesses, government, citizens and smart city managers to achieve a series of benefits from the ever-advancing information science and technology.

Owing to its smart city strategies, Berlin is ranked among the top 3 cities in Germany and among the top ten cities of Europe. Despite having undergone an arduous period in history and financial crisis, the city has exhibited a great number of achievements worthy of attention.

Jean-Paul Rouge
last week
Jean-Paul Rouge
Independent professional

Government agencies across the U.S. and around the world are making progress as they experiment with a new generation of smart-city technologies that improve efficiencies, expand services, and reduce costs. While the concept of "smart cities" holds tremendous potential, many challenges remain.

A new report titled, "Building Smarter Cities and Communities," from technology association CompTIA provides interesting insights. CompTIA researchers surveyed 350 government officials and found that nearly three-quarters of them have a positive view of smart city developments.

Anticipated benefits of smart city solutions include cost savings from operational efficiencies; optimizing use of resources; improved government services and interaction for citizens; better stream of data to improve decision-making; and the opportunity to attract tech-savvy workers and businesses.

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