World Economic Forum: Why Your Next Car Is A Bike

Whoever disbelieves that the global elite Technocrats intend to pry you out of your car onto a bike or scooter, you just aren’t paying attention. The WEF concludes, ‘cities should also manage citizens’ expectations’ so that they can be ‘healthier and more sustainable.’ ⁃ TN Editor

On the window of a bike shop in Copenhagen, a sign reads: Your next car is a bike.

More than 62% of Copenhageners cycle to work in one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, and the municipality is actively investing in new bike lanes and green light waves to allow seamless commutes in the morning traffic. In recent years, new types of bikes, such as cargo and electric bikes, have also reduced the need for family cars.

But these trends aren’t unique to Copenhagen. Around the world, cities are witnessing the emergence, and sometimes the demise, of smarter, healthier and cheaper transportation tools and systems, and they are attempting to integrate them into existing mobility patterns.

Paris pioneered one of the first city bike schemes, the Vélib’, and projected it onto the global stage. The system took advantage of innovations in smart cards in the early 2000s to deploy a fleet of around 15,000 bikes, accessible by the hour, to residents and tourists. It soon became a refreshing new mode of discovering the city’s leafy boulevards, away from traffic jams and crowds. The system was very successful and inspired similar schemes across the globe: Milan in 2008, London in 2010 and even NYC in 2013, which, to the surprise of many, has raced ahead on the path to becoming a bike-friendly city.

Bike sharing

The next wave of innovation came from the East. Chinese startups Mobike and Ofo and Singapore-based oBike took advantage of GPS tracking. If you know where a bike is at all times, why do you need docking stations? And dockless systems were born, with clear advantages in terms of usage for customers and deployment for cities. Before spreading to many other cities in 2017, these companies raised billions of dollars in funding and became known as Chinese bike “unicorns,” Silicon Valley jargon for companies with a valuation of $1 billion or more.

Then, the issues started.

First, quality. Many bikes required constant maintenance and were often out of service.

Then, vandalism, as bikes freed from docking stations were much more vulnerable to improper usage. They were drowned in Amsterdam’s canals, and they eventually ended up in urban bike cemeteries around the world, giving rise to pollution concerns and prompting cities to get more stringent in granting licenses.

Finally, the business model came under pressure. At the beginning, new deposits by customers financed the deployment of new bikes, but market saturation soon threatened this strategy. As of now, several dockless bike startups have gone bankrupt, and Mobike – the remaining largest player – is considering selling most of the stakes of its European arm.

Yet, micromobility addresses important urban issues, and as such, it will certainly have a role in tomorrow’s cities. Of all trips in the United States, 80% are under 12 miles, and in New York City, most don’t exceed 2 miles. This is precisely where the car is not particularly competitive – and where micromobility is handy. Micromobility is more energy and space efficient, and safer if accompanied by dedicated urban areas.

Besides, why use a five-seat, 2,000-pound SUV to move what is often less than 200 pounds? If you can access one the vehicle that best suits you at the touch of an app, it would be better to go for a two-seater, when moving with a partner, or when alone, a single-pod car, bike, or even dockless electric scooter, which are now deployed by companies like Bird, Lime, Bolt and others. These scooter companies have attracted investment from big ride-hailing operators such as Uber and Lyft, and they’re probably just the first sign of a richer biodiversity (or bike-diversity?) in mobility.

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data

Data, Data Everywhere But Not One Ounce Of Wisdom

Data is the lifeblood of Technocracy is. It fills the sails of AI. It’s the new oil of the 21st century. It is the gusher of the Internet of Things. The real-time railroad system is 5G. The word ‘enough’ is not in the Technocrat’s dictionary.

The Knight Foundation is fishing for more innovative ideas on how to collect and use data in the smart home and smart city.  The problem, of course, is that no amount of data will ever result in wisdom, which is the greatest human need in the modern world. ⁃ TN Editor

 

On November 13, Knight Foundation opened a new call for ideas exploring transformational ways data can be used to build stronger, thriving and more engaged communities. Knight’s Lilian Coral shares details below. See the press release here and register for an informational webinar here.

Imagine, at the main intersection near your home, seeing freshly painted crosswalks and new signals alerting vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians of oncoming traffic. Last year, the neighborhood was concerned because of multiple accidents in the area.

Impressed that the city has finally done something about this issue, you ask Siri to let your local council member know you support efforts to improve pedestrian safety. You get an alert on your phone, thanking you for your feedback, and soon after see a Facebook notification about the planning department’s virtual town hall meeting to reimagine the blighted corner down the street. Since you have ideas to add more outdoor activities, you decide to participate.

This vision relies on the power of open data. That intersection was identified based on collision and injury data. Signals collect data about riders and usage patterns. Resident feedback can be collected from different platforms or services — public or private. That feedback then needs to be shared — as points of data — with the planning department, or shared through applications connected to Siri.

When digital devices like our phones make our lives easier, they do that through the robust, seamless exchange of data. Much of that data is harnessed to improve commercial services — our food orders, ride shares, and the social media sites where we connect with family and friends.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The power of data — especially “open” data, made available by government and, in some cases, private companies — also extends to the possibility of better informing and engaging residents, encouraging them to participate in more civically-focused activities.

It’s in this context that Knight Foundation is issuing an open call for ideas that advance the concept of open data and civic engagement to encourage a new set of transformative approaches for using, understanding and taking action with public data. Selected recipients can earn a share of up to $1 million in funding for their ideas and projects.

If we meet people in digital spaces, can we advance new approaches for sharing, displaying, interpreting and communicating with data? What are some alternative ways to collect and analyze data to inform smarter, more collaborative decisions? What are the user-friendly ways to serve, empower and engage residents, and help them build stronger, more thriving communities?

The idea of public access to open data is not new. In addition to government, more private enterprises are actively publishing open data. For example, Uber Movement’s Open Data portal provides anonymized data from more than 2 billion Uber trips for noncommercial reuse. This volume of data, while technically “open,” is not actually accessible to nontechnical experts. Many residents are not “citizen scientists,” and efforts to train them to become more data savvy are slow and force them to earn the right to engage civically in a digital age.

But the vision for doing more with data, including seamlessly engaging with government, is alive and well. Burgeoning examples of civic data use that doesn’t rely on technical expertise — but meets residents where they are — show the potential for significant community impact.

By working with organizations already focused on using data to engage communities, and concentrating funding on a critical mass of projects in a narrow set of communities, Knight Foundation can gain insights on successful practices that move communities closer to a vision of participatory, inclusive and engaged communities.

Our new open call on data for civic engagement is part of Knight’s broader work in Smart Cities, which seeks to support stronger, more engaged communities by enabling the voice of the community to be reflected in the design and use of technology.

Whether it be accident and collision data, park scores, walkability, housing density, local government information or demographic information—all of these data points have the opportunity to radically change the way residents interact with neighbors, government and their community. If we want to accomplish our goals with open data, we must unlock its use for millions of Americans who seek to participate in their community and make more informed decisions that engender equitable, inclusive and participatory communities

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e-scooters

Global Cities Put Brakes On E-Scooters

E-scooters were promoted as a holy grail for sustainable living in cities, cutting down on carbon-guzzling cars and providing recreation for all. Now, pedestrians just about everywhere loathe E-Scooters and want them dumped. ⁃ TN Editor
 

Singapore became the latest city to target electronic scooters on Tuesday, when a ban on riding the devices loved by commuters but loathed by pedestrians took effect.

E-scooters have become a common sight on city streets from Berlin to Paris, but they have been blamed for accidents including the death of an elderly lady in Singapore this year.

Anyone riding an e-scooter on the city’s sidewalks now faces up to three months in jail or a fine.

Here are five other countries that have restricted or banned e-scooters.

1. France

Paris has banned e-scooters from sidewalks, with offenders facing a fine of 135 euros ($150).

A speed limit of 20km (12 miles) an hour has been imposed on the motorized vehicles across the capital, where scores of people have been injured and a man in his 80s was killed in April.

2. Germany

German lawmakers voted in May to legalize e-scooters on roads and cycling paths but ban them from sidewalks. Riders must be aged 14 and above, and comply with a 20 km per hour speed limit.

3. Spain

Last year Madrid banned e-scooters from pedestrian areas and from roads with speed limits of 50 km an hour or more.

4. Britain

It is illegal to ride e-scooters on public roads, cycle lanes and pavements and offenders can face a fine of £300 ($387), although there have been recent calls for the ban to be lifted.

5. United States

Some cities have imposed restrictions on e-scooters and a study in September found they were involved in a rising number of injuries, often involving young men who are drunk or stoned.

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Syracuse

Microsoft Puts Smart Cities Tech Hub In Syracuse, NY

Technocrats at Microsoft will promote application development for 5G, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, in a quest to flood cities with Smart City command and control systems. ⁃ TN Editor
 

The software giant Microsoft plans to open a hub in Syracuse aimed at developing uses for new technology, aiding tech start-ups and training the workforce of the future.

Microsoft will establish a “Smart Cities Technology” hub as part of Mayor Ben Walsh’s Syracuse Surge plan to bolster the regional economy with high-tech jobs. It’s Microsoft’s third such hub in the nation and the first in the Northeast.

“It’s significant for us,” Walsh said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s third-party validation not only of the Surge and the strategy, but the partnership and leadership we have in the community.”

Microsoft announced similar hubs earlier this year in Louisville, Kentucky and Houston, Texas.

The Microsoft announcement reflects the second major corporation to show an interest in Walsh’s Surge strategy. Earlier this summer, JP Morgan Chase committed $3 million toward workforce training programs and to ensure economic growth included traditionally disenfranchised communities.

Details of Microsoft’s physical location in Syracuse haven’t yet been finalized. Walsh said the software company plans to locate somewhere on the south end of downtown in the footprint of the pending Southside Campus for the New Economy. Microsoft will staff the hub with its employees, though city officials weren’t sure how many.

For now, Walsh has asked the Common Council to approve a memorandum of understanding between the city, Onondaga County, Syracuse University’s iSchool and Microsoft. The council could vote on that agreement as early as Monday.

The agreement formalizes a three-year partnership between the school, the governments and the tech company and outlines some of what Microsoft will bring to Syracuse.

According to that agreement, the hub will be a resource for entrepreneurs and start-up companies, providing consulting services, education and training on burgeoning technology like 5G, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.

Microsoft has also agreed to sponsor public events here, including an “innovation summit” to be held next year for local and national tech experts.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said the Microsoft agreement is just the next step toward transforming Syracuse and the region.

“What we think of as downtown today won’t be what it is going forward,” McMahon said. “You’re going to have this young tech corridor, more high-tech manufacturing…I’m ecstatic.”

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Cities Adopt Car-Free Zones To Push Drivers Out Of Cars

Thanks to Green New Deal ideology, cities around the world are banning cars to force drivers to give them up: San Francisco, New York, Olso, Madrid, Chengdu, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Brussels and Mexico City, among others. ⁃ TN Editor
 

In her 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, urbanist writer Jane Jacobs posed a prescient concern. She forecasted one of two possible outcomes for our urban future: “erosion of cities by automobiles, or attrition of automobiles by cities.”

To put it simply, Jacobs declared that if cars (and the highways and streets they run on) were left unchecked, the nature of the city would be gradually stripped away. She predicted that sprawl would make streets unwalkable, detaching neighborhoods and public spaces from one another. It sounded all doom and gloom, unless cities could impede that growth by limiting cars and reduce their influence on the streets.

The problem isn’t cars themselves, she argued, but the cumulative effect of an urban planning system that prioritizes cars over other modes of transportation. “The point of cities is multiplicity of choice,” Jacobs wrote. “It is impossible to take advantage of multiplicity of choice without being able to get around easily.”

Cities across the US and the world are experimenting with the “attrition of automobiles” by closing certain streets and areas to cars. San Francisco recently approved a $600-million plan to remove private vehicles from its busy Market Street, which will be renovated into space for street cars, buses, cyclists, and pedestrians. (Taxis will share the curbside lane with buses and commercial delivery vehicles, but Uber and Lyft cars are not allowed on the street.)

In October, New York City turned a one-mile stretch of 14th Street into a busway, banning all cars except some trucks and emergency vehicles. European cities like Barcelona, Madrid, and Oslo have established car-free zones in downtown centers, and these initiatives can prompt backlash but are often strongly supported by residents.

Citizens enjoy having a variety of options to fulfill their transportation needs, and cities are realizing that. In the past, before vehicles like electric scooters or city bikes were widely available, people were limited to cars, buses, or the subway. With more diverse transit options, cities are forced to plan for improved safety and access, to build streets that accommodate all types of transportation. And that means scaling back on what they’ve built themselves around for decades: the car.

The idea of a car-reduced city isn’t entirely new; cities have looked to close streets to vehicular traffic and create pedestrian corridors for decades. But what is new is the surge in micro-mobility options afforded to people, which have pushed cities to reassess how to organize their streets. The impending threat of climate change has also added pressure on local officials to cut back on carbon emissions. (Transportation is one of the top producers of carbon emissions for the US.)

These small, often electric vehicles — shareable bicycles, scooters, and mopeds — have popped up on city streets in recent years. Dockless scooters appear in cities overnight seemingly without warning, from companies like Spin, Bird, Lime, and Skip; ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft also invested in dockless bikes.

Their sudden arrival has caused confusion and even anger (mainly with the scooters) among residents and the local politicians tasked with regulating them. Some cities have required their swift removal, while others have more openly embraced scooters and started crafting laws for their usage. And whether scooters are actually environmentally sound is questionable.

But one thing is certain: Residents find these vehicles convenient, and they influence how people travel short distances — closing the gap left by cars, buses, and trains as a more direct means of transportation. Certain areas in cities, particularly low-income communities, are located far from transit hubs or lack direct bus or subway routes. Micro-mobility is a cheap, accessible option that could benefit communities previously overlooked by urban planners.

“Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of scooters will be that they will force a larger discussion of whom or what we prioritize when we design cities,” wrote Vox’s Umair Irfan.

That’s a philosophical approach some cities are taking, but it’s also being played out like a turf war, says Uwe Brandes, director of the Global Cities Initiative at Georgetown University: “How much territory in the public realm should be allocated to individual modes?”

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smart city

Why Video Intelligence Necessarily Drives Smart City Transformation

If any city aspires to become “Smart”, you can bet your last semblance of privacy that video surveillance will be at the center of the transformation. This is Social Engineering at the grandest scale, leading to Scientific Dictatorship, aka Technocracy. ⁃ TN Editor

What sets a smart city apart? Arguably, the smart city is differentiated — and driven — by its ability to evaluate its existing infrastructure; identify inefficiencies and opportunities for technological enhancement; and integrate intelligent solutions that streamline everyday operations. This, of course, is easier said than done, especially considering the costs of technology implementation and the significant demands of managing and maintaining daily city operations.

In order to competitively attract visitors, commerce and residents, cities worldwide are finding ways to facilitate smart city transformation. A starting point for many cities is pinpointing which existing resources can be maximized by integrating complementary solutions, instead of overhauling and replacing current infrastructure entirely.

For instance, city surveillance is standard globally, yet with the rise of internet of things (IoT) devices and artificial intelligence-driven technologies, data-driven solutions have emerged for transforming that everyday video content into security and operational intelligence. Many cities feature extensive video camera networks to enable officers to remotely monitor areas of interest or work with businesses and camera owners in the local community to extract video evidence for investigations.

Video content analytics allow operators to powerfully and impactfully leverage video that is already being captured for accelerating video investigation, enhancing situational awareness and enabling proactive real-time response to dynamic situations. Video intelligence solutions critically enable city transformation, empowering local governments and law enforcement to drive urban planning, traffic optimization, incident response and enhanced public safety.

Urban planning and traffic optimization

Video intelligence solutions are based on deep learning technology, an artificial intelligence technique that trains the software to identify, classify and index objects that appear in video, so that the metadata becomes searchable, actionable and quantifiable.

For cities with extensive surveillance resources and law enforcement agencies, video content analytics transforms previously under-utilized data into a critical resource for driving operations management, intelligent decision-making, and public safety enablement. This is because, when video metadata is aggregated over time and visualized into dashboards, heatmaps and reports, it can be used to understand trends and inefficiencies and drive urban planning and infrastructural development.

By analyzing and visualizing major intersection activity into a heat map, for instance, a city can understand where congestion occurs, the times of day its most likely to happen and identify possible causes — all of which empower the city to develop data-driven solutions. From installing additional traffic lights, cross walks or even bike lanes to expanding highways or adding new entrance and exit ramps, the city can identify whether new infrastructure is needed to relieve congestion, prevent accidents and preserve safety.

Beyond identifying the causes and locations of bottlenecks, cities can also leverage video data to analyze traffic patterns and identify underutilized infrastructure, such as parking lots; alternatives to crowded main roads; and highway entrances and exits, in order to make data-driven decisions for redirecting traffic and alleviating congestion.

While this analysis is helpful for streamlining everyday city activity, it is critical for planning for expected increases in traffic during times such as holiday weekends. By ensuring the safe and smooth flow of traffic, cities can create positive visitor experiences, which may inspire return visits or even an influx of new residents and commercial opportunities for the city. This is one way that actionable intelligence can influence everyday operations and long-term growth for a city, by maximizing existing video resources to draw insights.

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Sustainable Dubai

Dubai Going Sustainable And Green In The Desert

The Arab world wants to be the global leader in green living and technology. This new city is called “Sustainable City” and was built from the ground up to be 100% sustainable. It only houses 3,000 people, in luxury, of course. ⁃ TN Editor
 

Fenced off by a wall of trees, about 20 km from the high rises towering over Dubai’s city centre, there lies a small solar-powered settlement aiming to become a green oasis in the desert.

Renowned for its glitzy skyscrapers, air-conditioning-blasting shopping malls and indoor skiing facilities, the emirate of Dubai has long been the antithesis of sustainability to environmentalists.

But the United Arab Emirates (UAE) plans to change that reputation, with a range of projects aimed at having more than 40% of the country’s energy come from renewable sources and cutting consumption by the same margin by 2050.

Opened to the first residents in 2016 and to be fully completed next year, the initiative dubbed Sustainable City is a private settlement on the outskirts of Dubai designed to use as little energy and water as possible.

Comprising 500 low-lying villas that are home to nearly 3,000 people, as well as commercial spaces and a mosque, the city aims to be a “net-zero” settlement, producing all the energy it needs from renewable sources on site.

“The Sustainable City is a living laboratory for testing future technologies and solutions,” said Karim El-Jisr, head of SEE Institute, the research arm of the city’s developer, Diamond Developers.

When the project started six years ago, building a zero-energy development “seemed a bit like a dream”, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Today it is not difficult anymore, tomorrow everybody will have to do it,” he added.

From neighbouring Masdar City to the Qatari capital Doha, it is one of several developments launched across the region in recent years that aim to serve as a model for environmentally- friendly living in the Middle East.

GREEN DESERT

Houses, offices and other buildings are responsible for about 40% of planet-warming emissions globally, according to the think tank World Resources Institute (WRI).

The issue is particularly relevant in the UAE, said Emma Stewart, who leads WRI’s urban efficiency and climate programme, with World Bank data showing that the country has one of the highest per capita carbon footprints in the world.

About 75% of all electricity produced in the UAE is sucked up by buildings, mainly to fuel air-conditioners that keep locals fresh during the scorching summer months, Stewart said.

“They have an immense need for cooling to keep the population within their comfort range,” she said in a phone interview.

In the Sustainable City, residents zig zag through the streets on bicycles or aboard small electric carts, under the shade of the palm trees flanking the strips of square, white houses. Cars are banned from most of the area.

All buildings and parking spaces are topped by solar panels which feed the energy they produce into the grid, allowing residents to pay only the difference between what they produce and consume, according to the developer.

Residential units designed to avoid direct exposure to the sun and covered in paint that reflects sunlight to keep the heat out, while wastewater is recycled to irrigate green areas, El-Jisr said during a visit to the site.

Resident Belinda Boisson said she paid more rent than the Dubai average but, besides sustainability, the development offered a family-friendly environment and sense of community that was rare to find among Dubai’s high rises.

“(Children) can play outside without me worrying about my daughter being hit by a car,” said Boisson, a 46-year-old expat from South Africa.

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Claim: Kids Raised In Walkable Cities Earn More As Adults

To justify Smart Cities where walking is the primary mode of transportation, researchers now claim that earnings and upward mobility increase in walkable cities where cars are diminished or eliminated. ⁃ TN Editor
  

The benefits of walkable neighborhoods are many and varied. People who live in walkable neighborhoods are more active, healthier, have more time to spend with family and friends, and report higher levels of happiness and subjective well-being.

Now, add another big benefit to the list: Children who live in walkable neighborhoods have higher levels of upward economic mobility.

That’s the key finding from a new study published in the American Psychologist. The study, “The Socioecological Psychology of Upward Social Mobility,” by psychologists at Columbia University, the University of Virginia, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, looks at the effect of growing up in a walkable community on the economic mobility of children. The walkability measure comes from Walk Score. The economic mobility measure is based on the detailed data developed by economist Raj Chetty and his research team. Their data cover more than 9 million Americans born between 1980 and 1982 and gauges the probability that children from households in the bottom fifth of the income distribution will reach the top fifth by age 30.

The new study looks at walkability across more than 380 commuting zones, the basic unit used by Chetty’s team, which are similar to metro areas. It examines the effect of walkability in light of five key factors—school quality, income inequality, race, social capital (measured through community and civic participation), and the share of families with single parents—that Chetty and others have found to be associated with economic mobility.

Walkability has a sizable effect on upward economic mobility, according to the study. Indeed, walkability accounted for 11 percent of the additional variance in economic mobility above and beyond these five key factors. (Statistically speaking, the size of the R2 for their model increased from .41 without walkability to .52 with walkability added to the five factors).

The study considers the possibility that this result may reflect the effects not of walkability per se but of other features of walkability like density or urbanity. Research by Chetty’s team and others using their data has found economic mobility to be higher in communities that are denser (or less sprawling) and less segregated. To control for this, the study ran a series of additional models with variables for density, historic buildings, and other factors associated with urban neighborhoods. In all of these models, walkability remained closely associated with upward mobility.

The effect of walkability might also be picking up other factors that are associated with walkable neighborhoods like higher incomes, better health and longevity, more knowledge-based industries, more liberal social attitudes and less violent crime. So, the researchers conducted additional analyses to accounted for such factors. Here again, walkability remained closely connected to upward economic mobility.

As they write: “The more walkable an area is (as indexed by Walkscore.com), the more likely Americans whose parents were in the lowest income quintile are to have reached the highest income quintile by their 30s. This relationship holds above and beyond factors previously used to explain upward mobility, factors such as income inequality and social capital, and is robust to various political, economic, and demographic controls; to alternate specifications of upward mobility; and to potentially unspecified third variables.”

Or simply put, children who grow up in walkable communities fare better economically, controlling for a wide range of economic factors as well as the related characteristics of those neighborhoods.

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The Federal Government Is Promoting Sustainable Smart Cities

The author of this article works at HP, a leading Smart City technology provider. The US government is already heavily promoting Smart City technology and implementation from Opportunity Zones and regional governance to 5G wireless. ⁃ TN Editor

While many of us might picture flying cars, bullet trains and billboards that recognize us as we pass by, most smart city technology will be far less flashy than depicted in popular culture. That doesn’t mean these urban areas will be any less exciting or life changing.

The reality? Most smart city initiatives are already underway and promote an important quality embedded within their design: sustainability.

Imagine yourself as a citizen of one of these smart cities. Traffic is flowing perfectly, driven by data, analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), thereby reducing your commute time to the office and the pollutants from idling cars at red lights.

Those traffic lights and your office could be regulated by similar systems, reducing the energy cost and the load on fossil fuel-burning power plants. In fact, why even commute at all when internet of things (IoT) infrastructure, enabling more devices to collaborate, makes working from home just as productive as the energy-burning office?

Sustainability and smart cities are as dynamic a duo as they are challenging. After all, a true smart city isn’t just about futuristic transportation solutions, it’s about smart infrastructure, healthcare, governance and more.

What role does the federal government play?

If our metropolitan areas don’t pick up the ball and run with it, other regions with more aggressive government initiatives will not only surpass the United States in developing this technology but they will also own what could be a $2.38 billion global market opportunity by 2025.

Europe is driving a concerted push to evolve smart cities, which is expected to grow thanks to its focus on climate and energy objectives. Emerging economies in Asia are also growing. There is an opportunity for the United States to step up and take the lead on smart cities, but we must move fast, before we are left behind.

If cities themselves manage much of the implementation and technology, where does the federal government come in?

For one thing: incentives.

Setting aside budget to supplement cities’ technological transformations is part of the motivating force the government can have. In doing so, it will also help encourage cities to take some risks rather than waiting for others to do it first.

Another key role of the federal government in smart city implementation comes down to people.

As citizens adapt to changing environments, the government has a responsibility to advocate for traditionally underserved populations, and to make sure the technology serves them, too. The same goes for rural communities. These parts of the country are going to be the first and also the hardest hit by climate change. Thus, they need to prepare now to evolve alongside their urban counterparts.

With the government’s help, impact is huge

Cities are responsible for an estimated 75% of greenhouse gas emissions. Seoul, South Korea, is the city responsible for the most carbon emissions globally, ahead of Guanghzou, China. But American cities, like New York and Los Angeles are among the top five offenders.

Given that the world’s population is expected to increase by an estimated 33% by 2050, with nearly 70% of people residing in urban centers, these statistics cannot be ignored.

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Market Street in San Francisco

San Francisco Bans Cars On Market Street

Market Street is the busiest and most central street in downtown San Francisco. From now on, according to policies set in the UN’s Agenda 21 for Sustainable Development, it will be foot-power, bicycles, scooters, buses, etc. ⁃ TN Editor

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board of Directors on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve the Better Market Street plan, which will ban cars along the downtown strip of Market Street.

The plan, which has been in the works for nearly a decade, will prohibit vehicles from driving on any of Market Street east of 10th Street. The city will instead encourage walking, biking and public transit by investing in new streetscapes, raised and protected bike lanes, and improved bus and streetcar service.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed expressed support for the plan, noting in a letter to the SFMTA that Market Street is “our civic spine, where we convene for celebrations and come together to call for change.” She said the plan will help increase safety, transit reliability and attractiveness to the city.

San Francisco

Credit: Better Market Street

The Better Market Street planning team estimates 500,000 people walk on Market Street daily, with 650 people traveling on bike and 200 buses running down the corridor during peak hours. By eliminating cars, planners predict Market Street will not only become a better transportation route, but also “a place to stop and spend time, meet friends, watch people while sitting in a café, or just stroll and take in the scene.”

San Francisco is already no stranger to prohibiting cars on streets for pedestrian recreation. The city is home to two programs — Sunday Streets and Play Streets — that temporarily close neighborhood blocks off from cars to encourage “car-free fun” for children, seniors and neighbors. The success of such programs gave the city a window into the possibilities and benefits of a permanently vehicle-free central hub.

Safety is a main driver of the effort, as outlined in Breed’s letter to SFMTA. She noted that five of the city’s most dangerous intersections for pedestrian and cycling collisions are located in the downtown corridor of Market Street. To align with the city’s Vision Zero goals, the plan outlines efforts to install painted safety zones at eight intersections along Market Street. Bicycle intersection improvements will also occur on four cross-streets.

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