Improving Cities’ Ability to Pilot Smart Solutions
Cities are aware of less than 10% of the solutions available to them, yet almost 90% of cities do not trust information from providers, according to Citymart.com. So how to solve this mismatch?
The Living Labs Global Award (LLGA) held their Cities Summit in San Francisco last week, bringing together innovation leaders from 22 cities as well as 120 solutions providers nominated for awards (chosen out of 456 entries). Through this process, cities launch calls for solutions, then select the best solutions to deploy on the streets, and commit to implement these pilots. LLGA estimates that their solutions reach citizens 3 times faster and save 90% compared with otherwise projected costs.
Solutions ranged from technology such as urban parasols that increase utilization of outdoor seating areas through efficient heating, lighting, and connectivity, to new grassroots community models of neighbor-to-neighbor green home makeovers. Checkout the video of the dialogue and announcement of winners.
Here’s a glimpse at some of the winning solutions, chosen by a committee of 200 jurors. Since these are chosen with an eye toward scalability and demonstrated track record, it’s nice to know they have high potential to be implemented, particularly in cities that already have broadcast their needs (see Sant Cugat, Spain’s Smart City Strategic Plan).
Challenge: Smart cities want to keep their smart citizens and visitors always informed with relevant information: when is the bus coming? What is the history of this monument? What is the next event at the exhibition hall? When will the roadwork be done?
- Reduce the cost of information delivery (digital signs are expensive)
- Put information at the point of query (who’s using this space tomorrow?)
- Build stronger connection with citizens by providing customized information (promotion of neighborhood events)
Though the jury may still be out on QR codes used in marketing campaigns, maybe cities have the scale and motivation to make this happen?
Tacoma, Washington, USA
Challenge: City government is seeking a capital project-based life-cycle assessment tool for evaluating sustainable return on investment
Solution: Deploy the One Planet Operating System (OPOS) for cities, an on-line system for learning, collaboration, valuation and trading system based on BioRegional’s sustainability framework called One Planet Living. The system would theoretically provide real time information to help with evaluation of tradeoffs and decision-making in procurement or implementation. As cities increasingly adopt green building codes, procurement policies, zero waste goals, and smart technology initiatives, perhaps we need better tools to accelerate the process.
Challenge: Revitalize vacant neighbourhood spaces (both indoor and out) by creating opportunities for economic growth and employment.
Solution: Avoid the empty shop problem by creating value for landlords and community organizations or ideas. Leverage an easy-in easy-out system and control mechanism that reduces the risk for landlords whilst simplifying the process for the end user, from 3Space. Though landlords of these vacant properties may not gain rental income, they can benefit from the activation of their empty properties in other ways. Users of these spaces will often invest time and funds into making the property more attractive, and maintenance and security costs are greatly reduced. For locations in transition, the use of multiple buildings in this way has the potential to improve neighborhood perception, increasing property values in the longer term. As pop-up restaurants and co-working offices proliferate and redefine our utilization of and attitude toward space ownership, more and more flexibility will be needed between owners and occupiers.
Leave your comment below, or reply to others.
Please note that this comment section is for thoughtful, on-topic discussions. Admin approval is required for all comments. Your comment may be edited if it contains grammatical errors. Low effort, self-promotional, or impolite comments will be deleted.
Read more from MeetingoftheMinds.org
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
Noting that house prices have been growing three times faster than incomes in the last two decades, OECD found that “housing has been the main driver of rising middle-class expenditure.” Moreover, OECD noted that the largest housing cost increases are in home ownership, not rents.
Housing largely determines the cost of living. For example, in the United States, more than 85% of the higher cost of living in the most expensive US metropolitan areas is in housing. Fundamentally, housing affordability is not about house prices; it is about house prices in relation to household incomes. Housing affordability cannot be assessed without metrics that include both prices and incomes.
OurStreets origins are rooted in capturing latent sentiment on social media and converting it to standardized data. It all started in July 2018, when OurStreets co-founder, Daniel Schep, was inspired by the #bikeDC community tweeting photos of cars blocking bike lanes, and built the @HowsMyDrivingDC Twitter bot. The bot used license plate info to produce a screenshot of the vehicle’s outstanding citations from the DC DMV website.
Fast forward to March 2020, and D.C. Department of Public Works asking if we could repurpose OurStreets to crowdsource the availability of essential supplies during the COVID-19 crisis. Knowing how quickly we needed to move in order to be effective, we set out to make a new OurStreets functionality viable nationwide.
The best nature-based solutions on urban industrial lands are those that are part of a corporate citizenship or conservation strategy like DTE’s or Phillips66. By integrating efforts such as tree plantings, restorations, or pollinator gardens into a larger strategy, companies begin to mainstream biodiversity into their operations. When they crosswalk the effort to other CSR goals like employee engagement, community relations, and/or workforce development, like the CommuniTree initiative, the projects become more resilient.
Air quality in urban residential communities near industrial facilities will not be improved by nature alone. But nature can contribute to the solution, and while doing so, bring benefits including recreation, education, and an increased sense of community pride. As one tool to combat disparate societal outcomes, nature is accessible, affordable and has few, if any, downsides.