SmartPlanet Coverage of Meeting of the Minds 2012
SmartPlanet’s Rachel King continued her excellent coverage of Meeting of the Minds 2012 this week with two articles focused on Colin Harrison and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
‘Smart’ cities organize services around needs
The digital and physical worlds are converging, enabling us to leverage information to develop new insights and wisdom, according to IBM engineer Dr. Colin Harrison.
Speaking at Meeting of the Minds 2012 on Wednesday morning, Harrison covered the basic set of principles behind IBM’s Intelligent Operations Center and portfolio of solutions designed to enable smarter cities and intelligent systems for public safety, utilities, transportation, social programs and venues.
In explaining the genesis behind the Smarter Planet initiative at IBM, Harrison cited that the world has produced the following during the last 20 years:
- A global, high-bandwidth network
- A population of over 1 billion Internet users
- Roughly 4 billion mobile phones
- Billions of embedded sensors in infrastructures and environment
- Globally-integrated business processes
Harrison posited that it is no longer necessary to make guesses about what is happening today or what might happen tomorrow because we have the data and the planet is wired for that data.Read the full article
Vancouver mayor: Cities are ‘most entrepreneurial level of government’
Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson asserts that his city’s economy will be the fastest growing of any city in Canada, adding that defies the myth that you can’t be green and prosperous at the same time.
“Our goal is to be a mecca for green enterprise. We’re not alone in that,” asserted Robertson, while speaking at Meeting of the Minds 2012 on Wednesday afternoon, adding that the British Columbia city has “an enormous amount of expertise” to offer.
For example, Robertson cited that Vancouver has a hydroelectric power infrastructure, making 90 percent of electricity produced green and renewable.
Robertson described that Vancouver, the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada, is constrained by land between the North Shore Mountains, the Pacific Ocean and the U.S.-Canadian border. Thus, as the city grows exponentially, that requires some creative thinking about how to sustain that growth without wasting and running out of resources.
“Cities are all about action. We are the most entrepreneurial level of government,” Robertson remarked.Read the full article
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Read more from MeetingoftheMinds.org
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
Accenture analysts recently released a report calling for cities to take the lead in creating coordinated, “orchestrated” mobility ecosystems. Limiting shared services to routes that connect people with mass transit would be one way to deploy human-driven services now and to prepare for driverless service in the future. Services and schedules can be linked at the backend, and operators can, for example, automatically send more shared vehicles to a train station when the train has more passengers than usual, or tell the shared vehicles to wait for a train that is running late.
Managing urban congestion and mobility comes down to the matter of managing space. Cities are characterized by defined and restricted residential, commercial, and transportation spaces. Private autos are the most inefficient use of transportation space, and mass transit represents the most efficient use of transportation space. Getting more people out of private cars, and into shared feeder routes to and from mass transit modes is the most promising way to reduce auto traffic. Computer models show that it can be done, and we don’t need autonomous vehicles to realize the benefits of shared mobility.
The role of government, and the planning community, is perhaps to facilitate these kinds of partnerships and make it easier for serendipity to occur. While many cities mandate a portion of the development budget toward art, this will not necessarily result in an ongoing benefit to the arts community as in most cases the budget is used for public art projects versus creating opportunities for cultural programming.
Rather than relying solely on this mandate, planners might want to consider educating developers with examples and case studies about the myriad ways that artists can participate in the development process. Likewise, outreach and education for the arts community about what role they can play in projects may stimulate a dialogue that can yield great results. In this sense, the planning community can be an invaluable translator in helping all parties to discover a richer, more inspiring, common language.
While the outlook for the environment may often seem bleak, there are many proven methods already available for cities to make their energy systems and other infrastructure not only more sustainable, but cheaper and more resilient at the same time. This confluence of benefits will drive investments in clean, efficient energy, transportation, and water infrastructure that will enable cities to realize their sustainability goals.
Given that many of the policy mechanisms that impact cities’ ability to boost sustainability are implemented at the state or federal level, municipalities should look to their own operations to implement change. Cities can lead as a major market player, for example, by converting their own fleets to zero emission electric vehicles, investing in more robust and efficient water facilities, procuring clean power, and requiring municipal buildings to be LEED certified.