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
Social distancing is becoming the new normal, at least for those of us who are heeding the Center for Disease Control’s warnings and guidelines. But if you don’t have reliable, high-speed broadband, it is impossible to engage in what is now the world’s largest telecommunity. As many schools and universities around the world (including those of my kids) are shut down, these institutions are optimistically converting to online and digital learning. However, with our current broadband layout, this movement will certainly leave many Americans behind.
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.