Meeting of the Minds took a few moments to talk with Herrie Schalekamp about new working relationships between researchers and paratransit operators in South Africa and beyond. Herrie is the ACET Research Officer at the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Transport Studies. In addition to his research, teaching and consulting in the fields of paratransit and public transport reform he is involved in specialised educational programmes for paratransit operators and government officials. Herrie’s activities form part of a broader endeavour to investigate and contribute to improved public transport operations and regulation in Sub-Saharan African cities under ACET – the African Centre of Excellence for Studies in Public and Non-motorised Transport.
White Paper: IoT & Sustainability: Practice, Policy, and Promise
By 2050 nearly two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. The global challenges of natural resource and infrastructure management are immense: global temperatures are rising, water shortages are more frequent, and energy systems are overburdened. The “Internet of Things” (IoT)- physical objects embedded with software, sensors, and network connectivity- are poised to play a key role in enabling resilient and equitable management of urban environments.
This summer, UC Berkeley’s Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS), partnering with Microsoft, recently released “IoT & Sustainability: Practice, Policy, and Promise,” a white paper which explored how new IoT technologies can improve sustainability in cities.
IoT & Sustainability: Practice, Policy, and Promise
The paper focuses on three key sectors: water, energy, and transportation- and surveyed the landscape of IoT tools to improve sustainability in each of these areas, as well as bringing together existing examples and case studies. It discussed a wide range of technologies that can make cities not only smarter, but more sustainable, showing how IoT can provide real-time data collection on the availability and use of energy and water resources, facilitating more informed resource conservation, and can streamline data collection on traffic patterns and parking availability, decreasing gas consumption and CO2 emissions.
The paper not only illustrated the potential sustainability benefits of IoT, but also addressed the challenges inherent in IoT implementation. The paper also includes recommendations to city-level officials seeking to employ IoT technologies, encouraging a holistic perspective based on public-private engagement, the cultivation of public-private-academic partnerships for mutually beneficial outcomes, and the balancing of concerns privacy, security, and interoperability with trust, reliability, and transparency. It also highlighted the continuing relevance of issues of access and equality in insuring outcomes that are both sustainable and just.
The paper was accompanied by a public symposium held at UC Berkeley, which brought together leaders from industry, academic, and government to discuss the promise of IoT for enhancing sustainability in the urban environment. The event can be viewed at http://bit.ly/289wkDL.
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Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
Brownfields are sites that are vacant or underutilized due to environmental contamination, real or imagined. There are brownfields of some kind in virtually every city and town in the U.S., usually related to a gas station, dry cleaner, auto repair shop, car dealership or some other ubiquitous local business that once benefited the community it now burdens with environmental hazards or old buildings.
In addressing this issue, technology has not been effectively deployed to promote redevelopment of these sites and catalyze community revitalization. We find that the question around the use of technology and data in advancing the redevelopment of brownfields is twofold:
How can current and future technology advancements be applied to upgrade existing brownfield modeling tools? And then, how can those modeling tools be used to accelerate transformative, sustainable, and smart redevelopment and community revitalization?
Across the country, urban parks are enjoying a renaissance. Dozens of new parks are being built or restored and cities are being creative about how and where they are located. Space under highways, on old rail infrastructure, reclaimed industrial waterfronts or even landfills are all in play as development pressure on urban land grows along with outdoor recreation needs.
These innovative parks are helping cities face common challenges, from demographic shifts, to global competitiveness to changing climate conditions. Mayors and other city officials are taking a fresh look at parks to improve overall community health and sense of place, strengthen local economies by attracting new investments and creating jobs, help manage storm water run-off, improve air quality, and much more. When we think of city parks holistically, accounting for their full role in communities, they become some of the smartest investments we can make.