Weekly Round-up of Smart City News
This is a weekly round-up of interesting blog posts and news from urban sustainability thought leaders around the world.
- As the NHS, the public health care system in the United Kingdom, works to put their health records online by 2015, the are looking to the US for help opening up their public data to citizens. White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Government Innovation, Chris Vein, spoke to Computer World UK about the process.
- The Smart City Expo World Congress took place in Barcelona this week, convening 3,055 delegates and 319 speakers from 82 countries. Among the major announcements was the official launch of the City Protocol, the first certification system for smart cities. Read the press release and find out more at CityProtocol.org.
- Anthony Flint published an article in The Atlantic Cities this week discussing the challenges and innovations that have taken place in the mobile workplace since 1999. Flint points to major players in the work-place revolution, including LiquidSpace, Cisco, Accenture and others.
- Maggie Comstock wrote a blog post for the World Bank, citing the recent release of the State of the World’s Cities Report 2012/2013 and the new City Prosperity Index. The report looks to define what “prosperity” means for cities in 2012 and what best practices can help cities become smarter, more sustainable and more just.
- “Urban resiliency” seems to be on everyone’s minds this week. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, blogger Kaizhong Huang calls for sustainable city development to be put on the national agenda. Read about it at TheCityAtlas.org.
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Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
I see the outcomes of Duke Pond as a representation of the importance of the profession of landscape architecture in today’s world. Once obscured by the glaring light and booming voice long-generated by building architects, landscape architects are steadily emerging as the designers needed to tackle complex 21st century problems. As both leaders and collaborators, their work is addressing the effects of rising sea level on coastal cities, creating multi-modal pedestrian and vehicular transportation systems to reduce carbon emissions, reimagining outdated infrastructure as great urban places, and as with the case of Duke Pond, mitigating the impacts of worsening drought.
AI has enormous potential to improve the lives of billions of people living in cities and facing a multitude of challenges. However, a blind focus on the technological issues is not sufficient. We are already starting to see a moderation of the technocentric view of algorithmic salvation in New York City, which is the first city in the world to appoint a chief algorithm officer.
There are 7 primary forces determining the success of AI, of which technology is just one. Cities must realize that AI is not the quick technological fix that vendors sell. Not everything will be improved by creating more algorithms and technical prowess. We need to develop a more holistic approach to implementing AI in cities in order to harness the immense potential. We need to create a way to consider each of the seven forces when cities plan for the use of AI.
In New Zealand, persistent, concentrated advocacy and legal cases advanced by Māori people are inspiring biocentric policies; that is, those which recognize that people and nature, including living and non-living elements, are part of an interconnected whole. Along the way, tribal leaders and advocates are successfully making the case that nature; whole systems of rivers, lakes, forests, mountains, and more, deserves legal standing to ensure its protection. An early legislative “win” granted personhood status to the Te Urewera forest in 2014, which codified into law these moving lines:
“Te Urewera is ancient and enduring, a fortress of nature, alive with history; its scenery is abundant with mystery, adventure, and remote beauty … Te Urewera has an identity in and of itself, inspiring people to commit to its care.”
The Te Urewera Act of 2014 did more than redefine how a forest would be managed, it pushed forward the practical expression of a new policy paradigm.