In recent years, a variety of forces (economic, environmental, and social) have quickly given rise to “shared mobility,” a collective of entrepreneurs and consumers leveraging technology to share transportation resources, save money, and generate capital. Bikesharing services, such as BCycle, and business-to-consumer carsharing services, such as Zipcar, have become part of a sociodemographic trend that has pushed shared mobility from the fringe to the mainstream. The role of shared mobility in the broader landscape of urban mobility has become a frequent topic of discussion. Shared transportation modes—such as bikesharing, carsharing, ridesharing, ridesourcing/transportation network companies (TNCs), and microtransit—are changing how people travel and are having a transformative effect on smart cities.
Weekly Roundup: Highlights from two major conferences
A growing global mobile technology exhibition in Spain features a model city and interactive experience for exhibitors and attendees; Intel, Cisco, IBM among nation-wide climate change leadership recognized in Washington D.C.
GSMA Mobile World Conference in Barcelona
Between February 25th and 28th, more than 72,000 visitors from 200 different countries attended the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry, the GMSA Mobile World Conference (MWC).
Featuring prominent keynote speakers and showcasing more than 1,700 companies, this year’s MWC included a real city street that “explore[d] how intelligent wireless connections are driving innovation in order to deliver economic growth, successful products, customer value and new business opportunities.”
Also new this year was the theme of Near Field Communication (NFC), a form of contactless communication between devices like smartphones and tablets that enables services ranging from electronic scooter rentals to lighting and music control in hotel rooms. Read more about the conference’s constructed smart city and the many uses of NFC here.
Many companies also used the conference as an opportunity to announce exciting new plans for the upcoming years. To highlight a few:
Micro-fuel cell technology: Telco giant Cable & Wireless and UK-based developer Intelligent Energy announced that they are working together on a project to replace mobile phone batteries with micro-fuel cell batteries.
Improved connected car technology: General Motors announced the launch of 4G LTE mobile broadband services in vehicles in 2014.
Open Web Devices: 18 operators at MWC announced their commitment to Mozilla’s Firefox OS. Firefox OS smartphones will be the first built entirely to open Web standards, allowing every feature to be developed as an HTML5 application.
2013 EPA Climate Leadership Awards
On February 28th, in conjunction with the Washington D.C. Climate Leadership Conference, the EPA announced the recipients of the second annual Climate Leadership Awards (full list here). Awards were presented to organizations across the U.S. “leading the way in the management and reduction of GHG emissions- both in internal operations and throughout the supply chain.”
Among the winners:
Intel Corporation was awarded an Organizational Leadership Award
- By the end of 2012, the company reduced GHG emissions to 60% below 2007 levels- well beyond its goal of 20%.
- Since 2008, Intel has been the largest purchaser of renewable energy in the U.S.
- 100% of Intel’s annual electricity use, over 3 billion KWh, comes from green power.
- Through server virtualization, Intel is saving an estimated 661 tons of C02 emissions each year.
Cisco Systems, Inc. was awarded a Supply Chain Leadership Award
- Cisco requests all of its suppliers to report to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), collaborates with them to help them meet their goals, and also uses third-party audits to monitor environmental impacts.
- Cisco is involved in a joint project with the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, MIT, and International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative to develop supply chain data collection techniques for major electronics commodities.
- The company has achieved a 25% GHG reduction goal from a 2007 baseline.
IBM was awarded a Supply Chain Leadership Award
- In 2010, IBM established corporate responsibility and environmental management requirements for its more than 27,000 first tier global suppliers.
- In 2011, over 87% of its invited suppliers responded to the CDP Supply Chain project.
- The company reduced operational C02 emissions by 16% compared to a 2005 baseline.
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Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
A study by the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in 2008 found that the impact of routine weather events on the US economy equates annually to about 3.4% of the country’s GDP (about $485 billion). This excludes the impact of extreme weather events that cause damage and disruption – after all, even “ordinary” weather affects supply of and demand for many items, and the propensity of businesses and consumers to buy them. NCAR found that mining and agriculture are particularly sensitive to weather influences, with utilities and retail not far behind.
Many of these, disaster management included, are the focus of smart city innovations. Not surprisingly, therefore, as they seek to improve and optimize these systems, smart cities are beginning to understand the connection between weather and many of their goals. A number of vendors (for example, IBM, Schneider Electric, and others) now offer weather data-driven services focused specifically on smart city interests.
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