3 Lessons from Chula Vista to Help Clarify A Smart City Vision

Collaboration extends beyond City Hall. Unlike a city like New York, where most government functions are under the purview of the municipal government, a city the size of Chula Vista (population 268,000) or smaller has to collaborate with regional partners, such as school districts, hospital districts, water districts, the port district, and neighboring cities. By keeping dialogue open and working together on major projects we’ve opened up new opportunities for economic development, smart cities pilot initiatives and education.

Autonomous London

AVs can move more people in fewer vehicles on less congested streets compared to private cars. This means that some London streets could be made narrower and spare street space can be reallocated for other uses including bus lanes, cycling lanes, or expanded pavements. Street space can also be released for vegetation, allowing for cleaner streets and better storm water management.

California’s 2018 Climate Action Breakthrough

The 40-million people of California are not only growing the world’s fifth largest economy, they are accelerating the transition to use 100 percent renewables in less than 30 years. Recent success, shows that reaching 60 percent renewables for energy will be achieved and an enormous win for slowing global warming, improving health, efficient economy. Beyond 60 percent, there are several paths to carbon neutrality.

A Safe & Cost-Effective Alternative Water Supply for Potable Reuse

Altamonte Springs wanted to demonstrate a treatment system that produces purified water that meets or exceeds all drinking water quality standards. This would create an alternative water supply that is protective of public health and uses an energy-efficient technology to reduce or eliminate the production of a brine waste product. We had two primary goals for pureALTA and both are based on people. 

The VW Scandal Leads to a Path to Healthier Cities

The VW Scandal Leads to a Path to Healthier Cities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Trade Commission filed a civil complaint against Volkswagen that claimed the automaker installed software in some of its diesel models that enabled emissions controls only when the vehicles were being tested. This software resulted in greater vehicle performance on the road, but also an average on-road emissions nine to 38 times the U.S. limit, which is equivalent to those of a tractor-trailer.

The complaint resulted in a settlement whereby Volkswagen agreed to spend $14.7 billion, a U.S. record for an environmental protection action. These funds are divided into three parts.

7 Recommendations from Health and Transportation Focus Groups

7 Recommendations from Health and Transportation Focus Groups

Planners, engineers, and public health professionals all speak different languages. They may even use different terms to express similar ideas: for example, a planner may recommend tactical urbanism to improve neighborhood walkability, whereas an engineer may ascribe experimental countermeasure terminology to the same scenario, and a public health professional may view the solution in terms of an intervention. And community members may find all these terms unintelligible. In our focus groups, we heard that practitioners need to “get people on the same page” because of the differences we carry in our heads about transportation concepts.

A Research Toolkit for Building the Ultimate Urban Forest

A Research Toolkit for Building the Ultimate Urban Forest

As communities and municipalities around America are grappling with extreme weather events, it is even more vital to incorporate smart urban tree canopy and green infrastructure planning into all resiliency and climate change planning. Assessing your community’s current green infrastructure assets and deficits provides immediate information for maximizing your quality of living but also sets out the road map for how prepared your community may be for extreme weather events – from flooding to hurricanes to drought. Take advantage of the Vibrant Cities Lab site and any of the tools in this urban forestry “starter pack” or wade in by reaching out to the experts at the USDA Forest Service.

How Community-Funder Collaboratives Can Build Regional Power

How Community-Funder Collaboratives Can Build Regional Power

Foundations are notorious for creating their own funding strategy without any guidance from the communities they seek to support, imposing their strategy on grantees, and expecting them to achieve pre-determined outcomes that support those strategies. Within the Collaborative, we ask that funders listen to and trust the grassroots leaders and organizations, who we know are best positioned to propose the most effective solutions for their communities.

Planning & Implementing BRT in South Africa

Planning & Implementing BRT in South Africa

A big assumption was that BRT would take root and work well in South Africa simply because it has been so successful across Latin America. Unfortunately, while yes, BRT has been very successful in Latin American cities, as with most things, there’s no such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to transit.

Transit and Climate Adaptation = Transit and Equity

Transit and Climate Adaptation = Transit and Equity

The importance of this assessment is to provide information and data that can be used in creating effective policy that impacts transit access for those that are vulnerable during storm events. A vulnerability assessment can be undertaken by combining storm surge and extreme rainfall projections with transit availability characteristics to assess geographic vulnerability in regards to transit access and equity.

Why the Airport is the Future Hub of Robot Cars

For the city itself, there’s an enormous benefit in integrating intermodally with the airport. In the potential futures presented by autonomous vehicles, there’s the capacity for the airport to become essentially estranged from the city, a faraway piece of infrastructure relegated to long-haul travel, which wouldn’t be a future at all for many regional, non-coastal airports. Having the airport serve as one of the city’s core intermodal hubs draws the airport and city closer together functionally and emotionally.

The Humanability of Smart Cities

Lighting infrastructure is a perfect example of futureproofing. As cities are swapping out traditional high-pressure sodium street lights with energy-efficient LEDs and smart nodes that can remotely monitor and control the lights, don’t just be thinking about a smart lighting solution. Think about the position those streetlights are in to support so much more, like intersection safety analytics, parking optimization, and gunshot detection.

3 Key Strategies for Successful Civic Engagement Using Technology

The idea of multi-channel civic engagement and the role of the grassroots community marketer is being implemented by forward-thinking smart city leaders who understand the  importance—and economic benefits—of giving their constituents a voice. More investments are being made into digital systems that reach and engage the public.

Cities Need Forecasted Data to Make Impactful Emissions Reductions

From an energy type standpoint, a city’s electric utility can make a big difference regarding which actions cities should undertake. For instance, a city in the service territory of an electric utility with ambitious plans to decarbonize its generation mix may want to focus greater attention on future emissions scenarios versus current emissions when making decisions on priorities. This would mean focusing actions on transportation, space heating, and industrial processes, since those would likely be greater contributors to emissions (vs. electricity) in such a future scenario.

The Value of Analytics in Smart Parking

While it may sound like a simple process, there are challenges to consider when it comes to the effectiveness of parking sensors, such as their location. For example, in-ground sensors, a technology used by some cities in the past, presented a myriad of problems, including ineffective readings that can result in unreliable data and lost revenue.

Uber’s Mobility Dream Might Be a Consumer Nightmare

In the long run, even the largest, most powerful cities will struggle to rein in sophisticated global mobility companies. Thoughtful regulation at the state and federal level will eventually be necessary. Cities are becoming more active in setting policy for emerging services like bikes and scooters, and can incorporate thoughtful requirements in their license schemes. There are steps that government can take today to avoid some of the worst long-term risks.

Trees Play a Key Role in a Sustainable Urban Future

Urban trees remove over 710,000 tons of air pollution per year in the U.S., which has a major impact on fighting respiratory illnesses like asthma. Trees also filter up to 80% of phosphorus out of stormwater before it pollutes waterways and drinking water. And tree canopy shade, along with evapotranspiration (the return of water vapor from trees and vegetation back to the atmosphere), can lower peak temperatures by 2°-9°F—a key tool in combating the heat island effect present in many cities, which disproportionately impacts lower-income neighborhoods and other vulnerable populations.

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