Smart Buildings: The Latest Vector For Cyberattacks

Smart Buildings in Smart Cities are supposed to create a ‘safe and  healthy environment’ for their occupants’ but careless security holes are drawing hackers like bees to honey. Instead of fixing the flaws, experts recommend defensive AI systems. ⁃ TN Editor

As one of the top trends in 2019, smart city tech is sweeping the enterprise. Digitizing buildings is a major trend currently, however, this trend comes with a new security issues, according to Frost & Sullivan’s IT/OT Security Convergence for Building Technologies report.

The market for information technology (IT)/operation technology (OT) security services in smart buildings is predicted to hit $897 million by 2022, reaching a record compound annual growth rate of 37%, the report found.

A smart building uses technology to create a safe and healthy environment for its occupants. It typically uses IT-aided intelligence, smart sensors and controls for real-time dissemination of operational information for predictive analytics and diagnostics to help manage the building and maintain it at optimal levels.

Systems in a smart building are typically connected to an onsite management system or an offsite cloud-based management system. These are known as building automation systems (BAS).

Smart buildings are essential to smart cities, but as the number of such buildings increase, so does the security risk.

Smart building cyber attacks can occur in a number of ways, from phishing emails to an advanced persistent threat (APT), said Swetha Krishnamoorthi, industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

“For instance, in 2016, to take the German steel mill, cyber adversaries used phishing emails to gain access to the software network,” Krishnamoorthi said. “They gained access to the enterprise network and eventually penetrated the production management software. Once they got into the software, they gained access to the plant’s control system, and they destroyed all the human machine interaction points. Once that was destroyed, they manipulated the blast furnace systems and caused significant operational damage.”

Smart building technology is in its early stages of growth and adoption, leaving consumers unaware of the vast amount of security threats associated with the new tech, Krishnamoorthi said.

“The number of connected devices to an enterprise network is increasing phenomenally, as are the growing number of data breaches. Every single day, millions and millions of customer records, and employee records are being stolen,” Krishnamoorthi said. “The concern for brand reputation and impact on production environments is quite high, and increased awareness on including an IT/OT security to protect smart building equipment is rising.”

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Google Launches New Smart City Project In Downtown San Jose

After stiff resistance from citizens and privacy advocates in Toronto over Quayside, Google has decided to replicate its city-from-scratch experiment in downtown San Jose, California. ⁃ TN Editor

Years after it began fueling speculation by buying up huge swaths of property near Diridon Station, Google has provided the first peek at what the search giant hopes will be a vibrant mixed-use community woven into the fabric of the city’s urban heart.

At a widely anticipated community meeting Thursday evening, the tech giant unveiled a design for a mile-long stretch of formerly industrial land west of Highway 87 that includes thousands of new homes, offices, public plazas, art, cultural space and at least one hotel. The proposal promises to transform a run-down section of the city and comes as a marked shift from the walled-off corporate tech campuses that have dominated the South Bay for decades.

“It’s not your grandfather’s tilt-up suburban Silicon Valley office building,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Google chose this part of San Jose in large part because of Diridon Station, which in the coming years is set to become one of the largest transit hubs on the west coast — with BART, Caltrain, bus service and perhaps even high-speed rail all servicing the terminal.

But in Google’s vision, riders will emerge from the station not into the current drab expanse of flat parking lots but into a bustling plaza lined with new office buildings anchored by cafes and shops on the ground floor to draw people in. While the company has not yet released renderings of the project, the images released Thursday provide the clearest picture yet of what Google is imagining.

Across from the southwest corner of the SAP Center, Google wants to create some housing — an apparent nod to advocates who called for homes to be located near the station. Northwest of the Shark Tank, Google has plans for a hotel. That, in part, is meant to counter a major conversion of housing in the area into short-term rentals through something like Airbnb.

Alexa Arena, Google’s director of real estate development, likened Google’s vision to the company’s modern, pedestrian-friendly King’s Cross project in central London, adjacent to the famed St. Pancras train station that whisks riders across the English Channel to Paris and beyond. Both Google workers and San Jose residents alike, she said, want to emerge from the station directly into a vibrant city. And, she insisted, Google wants to build a space that retains a diverse, unique San Jose feel.

To the north, the company wants to preserve some industrial character, with space for artists to be creative. To the south, Google’s design focuses more on local retail and connecting with nature — creating and updating pathways near Los Gatos Creek. Housing and office space would be incorporated on both sides.

The space shouldn’t have “any hard edges,” Arena told this news organization, noting that while San Jose recently voted to allow much taller buildings near Diridon Station, Google doesn’t plan to build high in the sky everywhere. In some spots, Arena said, shorter structures might be more appealing than towers — near residential neighborhoods with single-family homes, for instance.

“They have designed a district that meets their office needs but that is going to feel like an extension of the downtown,” said Kim Walesh, the city’s director of economic development, “and like a very high-quality, regular urban area, and I think that must be a first.”

Overall, the company plans to create an estimated 6.5 million square feet of office space and 3,000 to 5,000 homes, well beyond what the city had anticipated for the area. Google also wants to set aside 500,000 square feet for retail, restaurants, culture, arts, education and other uses to help create an active place that would attract people at night and on weekends.

“San Jose has a serious housing crisis and also a serious jobs deficit,” Walesh said, “so I’m really excited about Google taking significant steps to address both of those twin challenges.”

The proposal also would create 15 acres of parks, plazas and green spaces — in many cases as ways to link parts of the transit village to the rest of the downtown as well as to nearby Los Gatos Creek and the Guadalupe River.

Google anticipates it could employ 20,000 to 25,000 people within the transit-oriented neighborhood.

“Here is an opportunity to be part of a city,” said Ricardo Benavidez, manager of community development with Google.

While the company is still in what San Jose’s transportation director, John Ristow, dubbed the “cartoon” phase, it plans to work with Heatherwick Studio, the British company Google turned to for its King’s Cross space and its tent-like Mountain View headquarters.

To head off lengthy legal battles, Google will ask the governor’s office to work through AB 900, a 2011 measure that sends California Environmental Quality Act challenges directly to appellate courts to be resolved in nine months. Such projects must be at least $100 million, pay construction workers prevailing wages and not make greenhouse gases worse. If Google is granted AB 900 permission, it will be a first for both the company and San Jose — and good news for Liccardo’s legacy.

Even before construction — which could stretch for more than a decade — begins, Google wants to convert the former Orchard Supply Hardware site near Highway 280 into job training space, where unions and others could help San Jose residents learn construction techniques and other skills to take advantage of job opportunities offered by the Google project.

“We need to start on job readiness today,” Arena said.

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Philadelphia To Install 100,000 ‘Smart’ Streetlights

All 100,000 of Philadelphia’s streetlights will be replaced with wifi-equipped poles capable of total surveillance. It will be mostly financed by energy savings of LEDs over high-pressure sodium bulbs.

Buried at the bottom of this story is the following paragraph:

“The switchover to a smart LED lighting system controlled through a wireless mesh network also opens the possibility that the devices could provide more than illumination, but an interconnected system of security cameras, air-quality monitors, traffic and pedestrian counters, or acoustic gunshot detectors. “The more bells and whistles you put in there, the more it costs,” said Montanez.”

⁃ TN Editor

Philadelphia was the first city in America with public streetlights, thanks to Ben Franklin’s introduction of the oil candle in colonial times. But the city has been a little slower than others to switch its public streetlights to modern energy-saving LEDs, mostly because the conversion costs are high.

That’s about to change. The city’s Energy Office is preparing to issue a call for vendors who can convert all 100,000 city streetlights to LEDs in two to three years. The aim is to reduce the city’s carbon footprint and to shrink the government’s single largest energy expense — the city spends $15 million a year on streetlights. The new lamps might also provide more light in some crime-plagued neighborhoods in Philadelphia.

“The goal we’re looking at is a 40% reduction in cost,” said Richard Montanez, the deputy streets commissioner, who has advocated the conversion for about a decade. If the city can reduce costs by $6 million a year, the savings would likely cover the debt service for the project.

Converting the city’s streetlights to LEDs would cost $50 million to $80 million, said Adam Agalloco, the city’s energy manager, who is organizing a formal request for qualifications from potential vendors. The city likely would issue a bond for the project and repay the debt under Pennsylvania’s Guaranteed Energy Savings Act, which allows public entities to finance projects with the savings generated over current energy costs.

“We’re in a place where we can invest in LED street lighting and the project will pay for itself — at a minimum it will be financeable over 20 years, potentially sooner than that,” Agalloco said.

Not just about savings

City officials say the economics of switching to LEDs improved this year when Peco introduced a new tariff for “smart” street lighting at the request of Philadelphia and other municipal governments. The new street-lighting tariff, part of a larger rate package approved last year by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, could provide a compelling incentive to local governments to invest in new wirelessly networked LED systems.

The city’s conversion plan is far more complicated than swapping in LED lamps for existing high-pressure sodium bulbs. The LED lights — light-emitting diodes — require new fixtures that are connected wirelessly and managed remotely, allowing operators to dim the lights after midnight to save money or to crank them up to full brightness to assist responders during a police or fire emergency.

The switchover to a smart LED lighting system controlled through a wireless mesh network also opens the possibility that the devices could provide more than illumination, but an interconnected system of security cameras, air-quality monitors, traffic and pedestrian counters, or acoustic gunshot detectors. “The more bells and whistles you put in there, the more it costs,” said Montanez.

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San Diego

‘Smart City’ San Diego Is Lightning Rod For Cybersecurity Concerns

Why would cyber-thieves want to steal non-personal data that is available free to the public anyway? Or, is San Diego secretly collecting and storing more personal data that has greater value to hackers? ⁃ TN Editor

San Diego officials are investing in new technologies to help the city become more advanced. But, these innovations create questions about cybersecurity and individual privacy.

On a bustling downtown San Diego street one afternoon, passersby probably weren’t thinking about the streetlights. Or the fact that they have cameras. But one resident — Brian Walker, works at a tattoo shop downtown — took some time to think about it.

“It’s like what’s the purpose? And who’s the company that is the third party source that’s doing all this monitoring and what’s their intentions in the first place?” he said.

Erik Caldwell, Director of Economic Development for San Diego, said it’s only the city that’s collecting data from the smart technologies. And the intention is to help the city save money and become more efficient.

“It’s about taking information you already have and putting sensors into the urban environment so you get near real-time data that helps you make better decisions,” Caldwell said.

For example, a smart streetlight can autonomously turn off when it sees that no one is around.

In recent years the city has installed around 3,000 smart streetlights, with plans to install a thousand more. Caldwell said the lights can show how many people or bikes go by, what’s the temperature outside, or even driver patterns in communities.

“That’s really critical information in understanding how changes we are making in mobility infrastructure is being utilized by the public.”

But the idea of a smart city doesn’t appeal to all. One concern is how the city physically secures data that it’s collecting.

Darren Bennett, Chief Information Security Officer for the city of San Diego, was one of the many attending the U.S. Chamber Cybersecurity Conference in San Diego last month. He said the city is always trying to stay ahead on security from a hardware perspective.

“We follow best practices for security. We have a third party auditor come in and monitor our work. We also know what our critical data is and protect it accordingly,” Bennett said.

But, he said, it’s impossible to account for every situation.

“There’s no perfect entity. I always joke it’s an unfair game. You have a limited number of security professionals, and an unlimited number of hackers that are trying to get in,” Bennett said.

And there’s a second concern that was brought up at that same conference.

“How are these smart cities of San Diego going to change the way we live and how are we going to be prepared to manage the risk that comes with that?” asked moderator Adam Bolio, of consulting company Deloitte.

“One sentence puts the risk into perspective. It’s basically security versus civil liberties,” UCSD’s Gordon Romney responded. Romney added the reality of imperfect security, paired with the collection of personal data, can create privacy challenges.

“How do we maintain the sanctity of the individual and their privacy?”

Back at the city administration building, Caldwell said San Diego takes both physical and personal security seriously.

He said it does that by not only investing in IT technology that’s secure, but also by being cautious about what type of data is being collected in the first place.

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Regionalism: Feds Are Actively Pushing Smart Region Initiatives

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) actively promotes “regional collaboration” and “sustainable economic development”. It smacks of UN policies from top to bottom, creating many un-Constitutional initiatives.

There is currently no pushback on Smart Region Initiatives that usurp sovereignty from local cities. Article Four of the Constitution states, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” Regionalism is diametrically opposite to a republic.⁃ TN Editor

Two Reston-based companies have secured a $750,000 federal grant to lead the Northern Virginia Smart City Initiative, which aims to bring government, private and nonprofit partners to advance the area’s smart city technology innovation cluster.

Smart City Works, a Reston-based nonprofit business accelerator, and Refraction, a co-working innovation hub that supports startups and high-growth companies, will advance the initiative in order to improve the livability and resilience of cities.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration awarded grants to 26  application from a pool of 183 submission. The Reston companies received the maximum amount of available funding.

Here’s more from the EDA on the initiative:

With the i6 Challenge grant, the Initiative will: 1) accelerate the development and lower the risk profile of companies seeking to provide innovative solutions to infrastructure challenges; 2) grow the number of startups and highly skilled tech talent in the region; (3) accelerate the commercialization of innovative products and 4) strengthen the regional smart city cluster supporting innovation, entrepreneurship, and commercialization.

Over the three-year grant period, the Northern Virginia Smart Region Initiative will create a stronger innovation cluster that will attract talent and capital to the region, stimulate economic development that benefits the entire community, and help to solve the region’s infrastructure challenges.

More than 45 companies are expected to graduate from the accelerator program, which could launch more than 30 new smart city products. The initiative is expected to generate 90 new jobs.

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Seoul cryptocurrency

Seoul: Cryptocurrency Integral To Smart City Transformation

In Technocracy: The Hard Road to World Order, I wrote, “Cryptocurrency is the futuristic tool of Sustainable Development.”  Seoul is proving that crypto is “an essential part of the Smart City toolbox.” ⁃ TN Editor

A local digital currency, separate from the national currency, is an essential part of the smart city toolbox.

Seoul is nearing several significant milestones in its journey towards becoming a blockchain smart city, blockinpress reports. By November, it aims to have the following in place:

  1. Public services accepting Korea’s national blockchain ID system as valid documentation.
  2. A blockchain system for managing part-time worker labour contracts, insurance and work history.
  3. A native city-wide cryptocurrency, dubbed S-coin.

According to blockinpress, S-coins will be redeemable for rewards and given to citizens when they use public services and participate in citizenship duties, such as paying taxes and participating in public opinion polls.

Beyond that, the potential applications of a digital currency such as S-coin are almost limitless, as a way of shaping people’s behaviour and streamlining interactions in the smart cities of the future.

The value of S-coin

To understand the value of the S-coin – the real rather than speculative value – it’s important to understand that one of the guiding principles of Seoul’s smart city program is to put engaged citizens at the centre of everything. After all, a city (and the entire planet for that matter) is for the benefit of its inhabitants first and foremost.

A native cryptocurrency is an excellent way of incentivising desirable behaviour in an organic way.

As people have previously said, government incentives have historically been oriented almost solely around punishments. Citizens behave because they get punished if they don’t. But just about every piece of behavioural research on the planet says a combination stick and carrot approach is by far the best way to instill desirable behaviour in humans and other animals.

Although the exact scope of S-coin, and where it will be rewarded and redeemable, is still up in the air, some of the areas it could be applied include the following:

  • Encouraging citizen participation in governance
  • Facilitating cooperation between citizens
  • Information gathering

Cooperative public-private decision-making

As a rule, most voters are apathetic. The exceptions to this rule are typically places with a longstanding history of citizen participation, and where participants can get a genuine sense of empowerment.

Only time can create that tradition, but a combination of incentives and some new processes can help create that sense of genuine empowerment on which everything rests. In this case, S-coin is the incentive part of the puzzle. South Korea’s citizen’s suggestion box website is another. Here people can make proposals, and others can vote on them.

Popular proposals go to public discussion forums, where government, private sector and citizens can all weigh in.

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Smart Cities Promote Social Isolation, Not Togetherness

Technocrats design cities according to their “science of social engineering”, where citizens are just animals in the maze to be controlled, directed, managed and surveilled. Smart cities will be the scourge of humanity, not its salvation. ⁃ TN Editor

George Orwell’s novel 1984, published in 1949, imagines a society organized by a totalitarian state where daily life is regimented and Big Brother programs every move. Not a totalitarian government, but corporate power, combining with new applications of information technologies, may be leading us to a similar society.

Undoubtedly digital technologies are transformative. The instant communications of the internet, the joy of FaceTime with friends and relatives, and Google’s vast trove of information have immeasurably enriched human life. Cellphones have made almost the whole world accessible.

What digital technologies have done in medicine, industries, transportation, commercial dealings are no less than a miracle. Yet it does not mean that they are without social costs and that every new use of these technologies will increase human welfare.

The digital technologies combined with sensors and satellites are now being applied to our daily activities, threatening the bases of social organization and human relations. We are increasingly being programmed to act, behave and relate with each other in predetermined ways.

Two trends are striking: reduction in human contacts and face-to face dealings and the loss of spontaneity and personal decision-making in daily life, increasing social isolation and regimentation.

Google’s proposed Sidewalk Labs in Toronto envisions a technology-led urban neighbourhood. The public discussions of these plans focus on privacy, ownership of data and surveillance, the regimented social life coming with its algorithms-driven neighbourhood should be of equal concern. Let us look at some trends already underway.

The new shopping experience is meant to liberate us from waiting in line and dealing with a cashier by picking, selecting, scanning and paying for groceries and other goods by ourselves. Shopping online brings clothes, shoes, even cars. Skip the Dishes will deliver favourite food at your doorstep. One can work from home without the companionship of co-workers. Apps, programmes and algorithms are shredding human connections and casual encounters.

Driverless cars are on the horizon and smart cities are the new promise. Smart technologies will not only relieve us of decision-making but also guide us in our everyday life. Is this not the 1984 embraced voluntarily without a visible big brother?

The social fallout of these smart modes of living is social isolation, loneliness, loss of personal choices and freedom to make decisions. The penetration of digital technologies, in the name of economic efficiency, in our small, casual and everyday interactions erodes opportunities for human connections.

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Neom: World’s Largest Smart City Rises In Saudi Arabia

A modern-day Babel is attempting to rise off the desert floor in the Mideast, intentionally built from the ground up with latest Smart City technology that will be run by robots and AI. ⁃ TN Editor

The walls are covered with graffiti in the sleepy fishing village of Khurayba. There are supplications to God, advertisements for vacation rentals and house painters. Near the local school, there’s a scribbled plea: “Open the windows of hope and drive out the despair.”

It’s here in northwest Saudi Arabia that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wants investors to put their money to realize his US$500 billion vision for the region. Called “Neom,” it promises to be the most freewheeling part of the kingdom, with state-of-the-art resorts and smart technologies run by robots.

But it’s also here where the risks to the 33-year-old prince’s grand plan for his country are writ large. Neom is the boldest pillar of a social and economic transformation that so far has seen at least as many delays as successes. Indeed, the question since the prince announced the vast development at an extravaganza in 2017 has been whether it can become a reality.

A three-day trip to the region, which is roughly the size of Massachusetts, showed the scale of the task as well as the potential. Many of the locals who have lived there for years are looking forward to some prosperity, while others are concerned they will be removed and their homes bulldozed.

The area has stunning, untouched shorelines with waves rippling in the turquoise water. Purple volcanic mountains loom over the Red Sea. Historic sites include a wadi where locals believe Moses landed when he crossed over from Egypt, alighting in a valley along the water.

Construction workers have already descended on the small towns and some building has started. The small Neom Bay airport, with its gleaming white interior, opened for commercial flights last month. Workers were driving construction equipment along the roads. An “I (heart) Neom” sign sits outside a heavily secured base camp of temporary housing for employees, the road leading to sleek white homes lined with solar-powered streetlights.

“It’s not only a vision on paper,” said Lojain Alharbi, a 25-year-old Neom employee who works as a business analyst for the sports sector. “It’s already happening.”

In an interview with Bloomberg in October 2017, Prince Mohammed said that by 2030, the completion date for his transition to Saudi Arabia 2.0, Neom will contribute US$100 billion to economic output.

The name comes from “neo,” meaning new, and “m,” the first letter of mustaqbal, Arabic for future, he said. There will be 12 small cities or towns next to the sea in Neom and others in the valleys and mountains, he said in another interview a year later, as well as an industrial zone, a huge port and several airports.

What Neom Says Is Happening

-There’s interest from foreign companies and more talks are expected.
-Neom plans to start a fund to invest in businesses that will either be based there or sell goods and services there.
-More than 400 firms are “interested in discussing opportunities” with the fund.
-Seven foreign companies are vying to lead development of Neom Industrial City, the project’s second phase.
-Plans to build a causeway linking Saudi Arabia to Egypt are going ahead.
Yet looming large is not just the cost or the challenge of luring foreign investors into what some see as a vanity project, it’s also the politics.

As Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Prince Mohammed purged relatives, jailed dissidents, tightened his grip on the military and waged a war in Yemen that created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The murder last year of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in Istanbul caused an international outcry, pushing several prominent figures to withdraw from the Neom advisory board.

The project is closely tied to Prince Mohammed and until he assumes the throne when his father, King Salman, dies, there will be uncertainty about the transition and what might happen to his plans.

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Creating The Smart Cities Of The Future

In true Technocrat form, SAP states,  “No smart city can accomplish this without real-time data about its infrastructure, inhabitants, and activities.” Real-time data means real-time surveillance.⁃ TN Editor

Globally there is no shortage of smart-city initiatives, but the outcomes thus far have been underwhelming. Very few sustainable, repeatable solutions have emerged to improve the way people interact with their cities as physical or social spaces or to redesign urban life in any fundamental way. Boston’s reality check and call to arms was perhaps a good start to redirect and reenergize its efforts toward local businesspeople trying to keep up with digital disrupters; commuters struggling with parking and transportation; city dwellers worried about unchecked development, affordable rents, and sustainability; or average citizens concerned about safe streets. But there and elsewhere, smart-city advocates within and outside of government have discovered that a key piece has been missing: participation by the millions who live, work, and seek entertainment in urban spaces.

Just as businesses are embracing a future driven by the customer experience, cities need to develop a collaborative, responsive, and personalized urban experience with their constituents. “Our citizens demand that we make use of the latest technology for their benefit,” says Harald Wouters, a consultant and former senior strategist for urban development in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, a small city in the Netherlands. “If we don’t adapt to the new digital wave of developments, public authorities will lose their relevance completely.”

But cities must take a more proactive approach to advancing this future instead of waiting, as they typically do, for citizens or businesses (especially tech companies) to bring ideas forward. Just as businesses are shifting from delivering end products to providing open platforms – where customers can codevelop and use products and services, access relevant data, and interact directly with each other to create their own value – cities will need platforms to collect input (including data) from their population and use it to codesign new ways to live, work, and do business. They will have to master the quid pro quo, as companies are doing with their customers, and deliver value in the form of greater responsiveness, personalized experiences, inclusiveness, and community connection.

Cities that are unable to make these shifts risk not only losing citizens’ trust but also missing out on the potential gains from urban transformation.

A smart city senses and responds to the patterns its constituents create as they travel, work, shop, and seek entertainment. Yet no smart city can accomplish this without real-time data about its infrastructure, inhabitants, and activities. “Cities thrived for the past 200 years by having access to great infrastructure – waterways, transportation, jobs,” says Kirk Talbott, CIO of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority and formerly the deputy CIO and executive director of Smart City, City of Atlanta. “The next 100 years will be marked by access to great information. It will be
one of the key deciders of success or failure in the future.”

People wonder why, for example, when Google and Amazon can use predictive modeling to suggest what users want to write or need to buy, the local government can’t proactively fix a pothole. “Cities have been growing without respecting their citizens enough,” says Ivan Caballero, CEO of Citibeats, which helps cities develop citizen-engagement and civic
analytics platforms and mobile applications. “And now those citizens are asking for more.” More, according to Caballero and other smart-city
advocates, means having an environment that citizens can shape to their benefit with data, whether they are actively contributing their opinions about plans for a new neighborhood development or passively providing their vehicle location data for the city to manage traffic signals.

A survey of more than 6,000 citizens from Australia, France, Germany, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States found that people overwhelmingly want  digital delivery of public services, greater personalization, and easier, more-secure ways to share and access data. The results also suggest an untapped enthusiasm for contributing to digital efforts. For example, 42% said they would willingly use Internet of Things (IoT) devices to share their personal data in exchange for discounts or service improvements, and 45% were willing to participate in focus groups or on committees to improve a service they use.

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Agenda 21

Democrats Driving Agenda 21/Smart Growth Legislation

The Complete Streets Act being promoted in the Senate and House is straight out of the UN’s playbook for implementing Sustainable Development. Complete Streets is an initiative of Smart Grown America

Note: The UN Agenda 21 has been heavily promoted by both Democrats and Republicans since 1992. Note Nancy Pelosi’s 1993 speech on the House floor.

. ⁃ TN Editor

U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-MA, and Rep. Steve Cohen, D-TN, introduced the Complete Streets Act Wednesday in Congress, a federal law to promote safer street design. The bill would require states to set aside 5% of federal highway funding for a grant program that would fund Complete Streets projects.

The legislation would allow eligible local and regional entities to apply for technical assistance and capital funding to build projects, such as sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks and bus stops. It has already received statements of support from ride-hailing companies Lyft, Uber and Via, as well as the National Complete Streets Coalition (NCSC), a Smart Growth America program that advocates for Complete Streets.

To push for Congress’ approval, NCSC separately released an addendum to its “Dangerous by Design 2019” report, which ranks states and cities on the dangers faced by pedestrians. The addendum segments pedestrian fatalities by Congressional district in both absolute numbers and by rate per 100,000 people. Arizona’s 7th Congressional District, represented by Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, topped that ranking. Gallego is a co-sponsor of the bill in the House.

This bicameral legislation comes at a critical time for street safety, with pedestrian deaths and vehicle crashes ticking upwards. According to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) earlier this year, the number of pedestrian fatalities in 2018 is projected to be the highest since 1990: at 6,227, a 4% increase over 2017. GHSA has blamed that uptick on a series of factors, including increased smartphone use and alcohol impairment of drivers and pedestrians.

The Complete Streets movement has gathered steam over the years as city and state governments look to improve safety, but plenty of work remains. In May, NCSC recognized 10 communities that drafted and implemented the best Complete Streets policies of 2018, with Cleveland Heights, OH at the top. But the push has been largely at the local level, with cities and states left to their own devices by the federal government, so this bill might be an effective way to give those efforts more clout.

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