Former Governor O’Malley Preaches Virtues Of Technocrat Governance
The former Governor of Maryland and Mayor of Baltimore believes that Smart City technology is the wave of future ‘evidence-based’ governance. In short, cities should better model themselves after Silicon Valley ‘entrepreneurs’ and ‘innovators.’ ⁃ TN Editor
Western democracies have some catching up to do with consumer expectations. According to a 2015 study completed by the Pew Research Center, 65% of Americans go online to find information they need about their government — but only 11% report finding the government effective at sharing data.
If Amazon, Uber, and a host of other companies can provide better service thanks to the new technologies of the Information Age, why can’t our governments? If the GPS system in my car can navigate me to the quickest route through traffic congestion and fender benders, why can’t my government use these same technologies to better anticipate these routine accidents?
Technology isn’t the problem. The technology is proven. Nor is cost a barrier; the availability of these new technologies is widespread and relatively inexpensive. The problem is the great human variable of leadership.
Old habits die hard. And over the course of time, public administration has developed a very slow, cautious, and risk-averse approach to embracing new technologies — the tyranny of “the way we have always done it” in public service.
In Silicon Valley, people who keep trying new things — even though they sometimes fail — are called innovators and entrepreneurs. The operative myth in government, however, is that people who try new things and fail are fired or voted out of office. What many people remember most vividly about the implementation of Obamacare was not its successful passage, but in many states, its failed launch.
But a new way of leading and governing is emerging. And it is rising up from cities.
ASU Leads Nation In Unconstitutional ‘Smart Region’ Scheme
Regional governance is the arch-enemy and destroyer of a “republican form of government” as guaranteed to the states by the U.S. Constitution. ASU started the “Smart Region Initiative” that will impose Smart City policies throughout the region.
The president of Arizona State University, Dr. Michael Crow, is also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the CIA’s private venture capital firm, In-Q-Tel. SRI is essentially modeled after In-Q-Tel to provide tech ‘incubators’ and ‘sandboxes’ to advance experimental Smart City technology and policies throughout the Phoenix region. SRI is also partnered with the Maricopa Association of Governments to help impose its policies upon 22 cities and 4.2 million people while bypassing duly elected city councils.
To say that SRI is a swarm of unelected and unaccountable Technocrats is an understatement. Furthermore, SRI is attracting other Technocrat companies from all over the world. ⁃ TN Editor
Arizona State University (ASU) and Alteryx (NYSE: AYX), revolutionizing business through data science and analytics, today announced a collaboration to accelerate Smart City program development in the Phoenix Metro area via advanced analytic solutions. Dean Stoecker, CEO of Alteryx, discussed the partnership during his keynote address at the ASU Smart Region Summit, hosted today in Phoenix.
“Higher education institutions are at the forefront of technical innovation and have an immense responsibility to empower the success of our future workforce,” said Stoecker. “Today’s summit and the university’s Smart City Cloud Innovation Center are indicative of ASU’s leadership in both areas. Alteryx has a proven track record of enabling Smart City solutions across the globe and we are proud to partner with an organization equally dedicated to driving remarkable social outcomes. Together, we are putting our powerful analytics platform in the hands of those capable of creating the cities and economies of tomorrow with data science and analytics.”
ASU, recognized by U.S. News and World Report as the most innovative university for the fifth consecutive year, opened the Smart City Cloud Innovation Center (CIC) in March 2019, designed to improve digital experiences for smart city designers, expand technology alternatives and spur economic development. As part of the CIC (pronounced “kick”), ASU faculty and students can leverage the Alteryx Platform to solve submitted challenges that will help enable smarter communities in Phoenix, preparing students to solve real-world business issues and driving social impact.
“It is rare to find industry-leading companies like Alteryx who are passionate about aiding higher education institutes like ASU in our mission of social embeddedness,” said Lev Gonick, chief information officer at ASU. “Through this collaboration, our students will gain access to a modern, end-to-end data analytics platform that will not only allow them to discover and implement smart city solutions, but will also set them up for success as they graduate college and enter the workforce. We’re excited to explore additional possibilities with Alteryx as we partner across the private and public sectors to accelerate innovation and drive social good.”
Alteryx is helping ASU further accelerate data literacy and development of the future workforce via the Alteryx for Good (AFG) university program, which allows educators to incorporate data science and analytics into curricula and engage students in predictive, statistical and spatial analytics. Learn more about the AFG program and higher education opportunities here.
About Arizona State University Arizona State University has developed a new model for the American Research University, creating an institution that is committed to access, excellence and impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. As the prototype for a New American University, ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good, and ASU assumes major responsibility for the economic, social and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it.
About Alteryx Revolutionizing business through data science and analytics, Alteryx offers an end-to-end analytics platform that empowers data analysts and scientists alike to break data barriers, deliver insights and experience the thrill of getting to the answer faster. Organizations all over the world rely on Alteryx daily to deliver actionable insights. For more information visit https://www.alteryx.com.
WEF: Future Cities Must Be Sustainable To Be ‘Smart’
The elitist World Economic Forum is 100% behind Sustainable Development, aka Technocracy, claiming that the future Smart City should be ‘first and foremost a sustainable city to minimize its environmental impact.’ ⁃ TN Editor
Municipalities could also declare a certain part of their forests as protected areas or plant biodiverse forests with native trees, creating new biotopes. The same should be considered for certain ponds, lakes and creeks that should be situated in a perimeter prohibiting conventional agriculture, fostering eutrophication of close-by aquatic environments.
Such environmental strategies for future city development should be embedded into a strategic report accessible by all city stakeholders, providing explanations, guidelines and contact information for further help. One model for other cities is Vancouver, which is currently implementing its Greenest City Action Plan, comprised of local food production, strategic tree planting in public and private spaces, improving microclimate, food security and biodiversity. Governments could provide additional incentives, like free access to endemic seeds via community seedbanks, garden design assistance and subsidies or property tax reductions for those making positive contributions to the environment on their private propery.
Technology is key to quantifying biodiversity and understanding the evolution of urban ecosystems. Drone overflights feeding data into a wildlife-recognition model combined with geotagging could help us understand the evolution of the urban ecosystem. Sensors could analyse soil humidity, temperature and composition and monitor wildlife, informing strategic planning.
Woven City: Toyota’s Futuristic City Centers Around Not Driving
Toyota is the latest entry into concept cities, called Woven City, will be built from scratch to test Smart City technology. Limited to around 2,000 residents, it will certainly not be affordable to the average citizen in Japan. ⁃ TN Editor
Toyota is apparently no longer content making Corollas, Hilux pickups and loads of money, as it’s now planning to build an entire town of its own. Seriously.
Today at CES in Las Vegas, the automaker announced its ambitious new construction project, called the Woven City. Located near Mount Fuji in Japan, this brand-new municipality will occupy the location of a defunct manufacturing plant. The automaker has reclaimed a 175-acre plot of land that, over the next few years, will be transformed into a city of the future.
The goal of this prototype conurbation is to create a living laboratory for the development of future technologies. This encompasses things like self-driving vehicles, robotics, smart homes, personal mobility and more.
Image by Toyota
Speaking at a roundtable discussion following the Woven City’s announcement, James Kuffner, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute Advanced Development said, “The cities of today have been shaped by cars.” But with this project, the automaker is exploring a world of new technological possibilities. Woven City could be the perfect testbed for this.
Residents, yes, normal people will be able to live there, as well as buildings, infrastructure and vehicles will all be interconnected, powered by a city-wide digital operating system. Toyota will also invite its business partners to work there as well as academics and scientists from around the world, all with the goal of fostering the creation of new technologies. Connected, autonomous, emissions-free and shared mobility are a few of the buzzwords used to describe the project.
This planned city is designed to be fully sustainable, powered by Toyota hydrogen-fuel cell technology and rooftop-mounted photovoltaic panels. Accordingly, it should not be connected to the conventional power grid. Buildings will be made largely of wood, incorporating traditional Japanese joinery in their construction. If the renderings of this town and its structures are accurate, it should be a swanky place to reside.
The Woven City’s streets will be divided into three sections, none of which will support human-driven vehicles. One will be dedicated to faster-moving self-driving transportation, another will handle slower, personal-mobility vehicles as well as pedestrians, and the final one will be park-like promenades dedicated exclusively to people.
Those differing infrastructure elements will weave together, something that helped inspire the project’s name. This is also a nod to Toyota’s heritage, as the automaker actually got its start making looms for weaving fabric.
The Woven City’s carefully planned environment should make it easier to create and develop future transportation technology. Greening things up, native vegetation and hydroponics will be sprinkled throughout.
Major infrastructure elements will be housed underground. This should include things like hydrogen storage and plumbing. Topside, residents’ lives will likely be made easier thanks to in-home robots and sensor-based artificial intelligence. In a perfect world, the trash will automatically get taken out and refrigerators seamlessly restocked with tasty vittles.
Giving some style to match its functionality, the Woven City is being designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. His firm, the Bjarke Ingels Group, has created many iconic buildings around the world, including several for Google as well as 2 World Trade Center in New York.
A key element to total surveillance is geospatial tracking (GeoInt) and monitoring of everything that moves. GeoInt was originally developed by the military for the military, but now it will power Smart Cities around the globe.
The embedded videos are critical for you to watch and contemplate. Take them to all of your locally elected officials and show them WHY they should reject Smart City makeover. ⁃ TN Editor
As the world gets smarter and more connected, 5G and geospatial will together be powering cities of the future.
Half of the world’s population lives in cities, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050. As our urban ecosystems grow ever larger, technology has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of those living in them. With the onset of digitalization and the Fourth Industrial Revolution radically changing how we live work and interact, the biggest impact will be felt on our cities.
As challenges like population pressure, deforestation, traffic congestion, deteriorating infrastructure, crime and resource crunch impact cities the world over, smart city innovations couldn’t have come at a better time. Smart cities may save the world as much as $22 trillion by 2050, according to the Global Commission on Economy & Climate.
Accurate geospatial information helps governments design better cities, improve public services and engage with citizens. Urbanization of the future will be driven by geospatial data and location would be a crucial component in digitalization of cities. And as cities get smarter, much of this location data has to be in real time. This is where geospatial and 5G converge. 5G and geospatial will together be powering cities of the future.
“5G will act as the connective tissue of tomorrow’s digital economy, linking everything from smartphones to wireless sensors to industrial robots and self-driving cars,” says Malcolm Johnson, Deputy Secretary General, International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Together they are the critical link for a smart, interconnected world, bringing the next level of connectivity to industries and society that helps in shaping digital cities.
Besides powering data at unbelievably fast rates, the coverage density of 5G is a hundred times greater than current standards. 5G can connect up to 1 million devices per sq km; its low latency and incredible speed and bandwidth will bring in the ubiquitous connectivity required by the smart city ecosystem.
What is 5G?
5G is the short form for ‘fifth generation mobile network’ and is quite unlike any of the previous generations in a way that it is unlikely to be defined by any single technology. Often referred to as “the network of networks” because of the way it will bind together multiple existing and future standards, including the current LTE 4G networks, 5G will be way more fast and reliable with greater carrying capacity.
5G will accelerate the move towards digital as a transformative ecosystem that combines Big Data and Cloud, virtualization and augmentation, automation and intelligent machines, distributed computing and artificial intelligence, to derive insights from data that is generated by billions of connected devices.
Of course, 5G doesn’t exist alone and will be majorly driven by the ongoing sensor revolution and the move towards a connected world. According to Jeff Glueck, CEO, Foursquare, “For 5G we need a multi-sensor approach. It is important to add the human element on the physical element for innovation.”
As sensors get smaller, they are getting more and more ubiquitous. From smartphones to cameras, wearable devices to platforms like social media, crowd sensing technologies are increasing at an incredible pace. The number of connected devices worldwide is forecast to grow to almost 31 billion by 2020, according to Statista. The total installed base of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices is projected to amount to 75.44 billion worldwide by 2025, a fivefold increase in 10 years.
“Multiple sensors are adding to more dynamic data coming from all quarters, drowning the whole world in a pool of data. You need more dynamic technologies to handle this data,” underlines Christopher De Preter, Chief Sales Officer, Hexagon Geospatial.
“5G will make networks several times faster, increase network capacity, open possibilities to cover not only dense built-up territories in cities but suburbs and villages, and will really unlock the potential of IoT and smart cities development, connecting all people and all things,” says Dr. Volodymyr Kolinko, CEO, Visicom, a Ukraine-based geodata provider company.
Geospatial and 5G
“Geospatial insight is key to planning for 5G network for unprecedented speed. It will expedite the process of site selection, design and asset management, providing immersive, overlay and point cloud view for decision making,” explains Frank Paulie, CEO, Cyclomedia.
5G’s higher frequencies — which is needed to carry huge amounts of data — have a very short range which can be impacted by smallest of the obstructions. The signal is so sensitive that it can be blocked by the palm of your hand, or even a raindrop. 5G will also require denser telecom network — more towers placed selectively and strategically. Therefore, accurate, authoritative geospatial data is fundamental here to plan network towers.
Further, because of the sensitivity of radio waves, it is necessary to have detailed maps — buildings with roof features, pipes, air conditioners, spires, sloping roofs, and even vegetation which also can affect signal propagation.
5G wireless promises higher capacity, more reliability, lower latency and improved coverage, thus bringing greater accuracy in positioning services, since telecom-based positioning technologies require telecom towers to be synchronized to nanoseconds relative to each other.
5G will also usher in new technology trends that will significantly impact the overall mobile network architecture, thus influencing the traditional positioning concepts as well. With location becoming fundamental to governance and all business process, the value of location-based services for industries such as advertising and marketing, transportation, retail, will only increase, since the 5G rollout and its subsequent expansion will enable more mobile interaction opportunities.
The standout trend is #6, “Mobility hubs and car-free zones”, discussed in several articles on TN. Banning cars from city centers and forcing people onto foot, bicycle, scooter or mass transit will be huge in 2020. This meme was originally hatched in the Agenda 21 program in 1992, but is now becoming a reality.
The editor of Smart Cities Dive contacted me that she is taking exception to the amount of text from their website included in this article. Even though I have the right, according to ‘fair use’ statutes, to include text that I review and make comment on, I am choosing to remove the bulk of their article, and thus you will have to go to their website to read it.
This is only the second time in TN’s history that anyone has raised a copyright dispute. Considering that I have posted and commented on over 3,600 stories relating to Technocracy, it demonstrates that TN is well within the operating boundaries of fair use and copyright law.
The editors of Smart Cities Dive (and the other Dive series such as Industry Dive) are obviously upset that TN would lift the cover off of their dedication to Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development, aka Technocracy.
Lastly, since the length of my text exceeds theirs now, I am reverting authorship back to myself. ⁃ TN Editor
The concept of “smart growth” was a brilliant marketing strategy that was introduced in the early 1990s as an alternative phrase for Agenda 21. Americans don’t like to be included in “agendas” they did not create or approve, but they instantly warmed up to the idea of being “smart”. After all, who wants to be “dumb”?
The concept of Smart Growth has spawned a plethora of derivatives such as Smart City, smart phone, smart network, smart home, smart streets, smart cars, smart grid, smart appliances, etc. Essentially, the inclusion of “smart” has come to mean anything saturated with technology designed to control the object of its focus.
The Big Tech companies of Silicon Valley and similar tech centers fancy themselves to be urban planners, but that is a misnomer. Traditional urban planners seek to build functional cities that work for people, whereas Smart City planners build functional cities focused on controlling people.
As you will remember from other essays in this series, one main object of Technocracy, aka Sustainable Development, is to transfer resources from the hands and ownership of people and their representative institutions into the hands of a global common trust operated by the global elite. When David Rockefeller founded the Trilateral Commission in 1973 to create a “New International Economic Order”, grabbing resources became the master plan and Sustainable Development, aka Technocracy, became the means to that end.
Cities don’t have physical resources like farming, minerals, timber, etc. Rather, it is the rural areas of the world where such resources are found and developed. So, to prepare for taking over large swaths of rural areas, Technocrats developed two coordinated strategies: First, move people from rural to urban settings and second, keep them there.
The United States contains 2.27 billion acres of land. The federal government owns some 650 million acres, representing over 28% of our total land mass. Most federal land is in the western states, which are rich with natural resources. The U.S. Constitution does not provide for broad federal land ownership, but that has not stopped the government from ever-expanding its portfolio. Apologists for federal ownership use the justification that the American people actually own those acres, but in fact much of the federal property is completely inaccessible to the public.
In China, where Technocracy reigns, land grab policies are more direct. For instance, China unveiled a plan in 2014 to summarily move 250 million farmers off their land by 2026 and into megacities that had already been constructed but sat vacant. The vacated farm land is being combined into giant factory farms to be operated by advanced technology such as agricultural robots and automated tractors. Ostensibly, the farmers who refuse to leave will be helped along with the barrel of a gun.
Once relocated into cities of the government’s choosing, these farmers will fall into a social engineering machine that will continuously surveil them, track them, assign social credit scores to limit their access to privileges, etc. They will never regain enough resources or mobility to leave their assigned cities. In other words, they will be trapped.
Smart City Development
Around the world, there are several Smart City commonalities which can be easily observed in practice and in literature:
Surveillance. Monitor people using biometric facial scanning, geo-spatial tracking, financial data, social media, etc. A population that is surveilled can be easily controlled.
Transportation. Force people out of private vehicles into shared public transportation such as scooters, bicycles, buses, light rail, etc. Without private transportation, they are locked into the city and out of the rural area.
Data. Collect real-time data from the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is an expansion of the Internet of Things concept to include people as well.
Control. Social engineering is always leading the thought process of Smart City development. However, unlike elected political representatives, the social engineers are always self-appointed Technocrats who decide what citizens should or should not do, where citizens should or should not go, with whom citizens should or should not associate with, etc.
All of this fits the original definition of Technocracy, as seen in The Technocrat magazine in 1939:
Technocracy is the science of social engineering, the scientific operation of the entire social mechanism to produce and distribute goods and services to the entire population.
Original Technocrats viewed people as nothing more than resources on the same level as animals and natural resources on the planet. Their goal was – and still is – to apply “science” to the efficient balancing of resources by controlling production of goods and services as well as their consumption. The objects of this social engineering would have no more control over their own lives than the cattle in a feedlot.
Smart Cities and Regionalization
In the United States, Smart City policies are increasingly being imposed by regionalization.
The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) is a non-governmental organization that “serves as the national voice for regions by advocating for regional cooperation as the most effective way to address a variety of community planning and development opportunities and issues.” According to its website, there are over 500 regional councils in all 50 states serving population areas ranging from less than 50,000 to more than 19 million.
These regional entities, known as Councils of Governments (COGs) or Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), impose Sustainable Development policies on all targeted communities, cities and counties within their supposed jurisdiction, bypassing the officially elected representatives. The NARC literature is very clear regarding its purpose. NARC supports:
Federal consultation of local governments in formulating environment, energy and land use policies
community resilience planning to mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events
expand[ing] Federal incentives to reduce energy dependence and promote renewable energy use
multi-jurisdictional solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
empowering regions to utilize the opportunities created by technology and data, included automated and connected vehicles
public and private investments that provide regions with the tools they need to create economically vibrant and sustainable communities.
In 2019, a new regionalization scheme was launched in Arizona called the Smart Region Initiative (SRI). It will create implementation policies for Smart City technology throughout a given region of cities and counties. As I wrote in February 2019,
The Phoenix area Smart Region Initiative is a pilot program to see how much sovereignty can be stripped from member cities without a mass uprising by disenfranchised citizens. With no elected officials, SRI seeks domination over 22 cities and 4.2 million people to dictate uniform implementation of Smart City policies and technology.
If this pilot is successful, it will be rolled out across the nation for the rapid installation of Smart City tech, including 5G small cell towers, smart street lights with cameras, sensors, and listening devices, smart street technology for autonomous vehicles, data collection technology, and so on.
Where I grew up on a farm in northern California, crops like tomatoes and melons required lots manual labor to pick the fruit during the harvest season. Thousands of workers from Mexico would be granted “green cards” to temporarily enter the U.S. and then would return to their own country when the work was done.
While they moved from farm to farm, they would be housed in dormitory-style facilities known as “labor camps”. These allowed for sleeping and eating, and some facilities were barely better than tents, but the work got done and the workers returned home with their paychecks in hand.
I am reminded of these work camps when I look at today’s modern concept of the Smart City, where captive labor resources are plentiful, accessible and trainable. Is this really the purpose of city life in the 21st century? It would appear so.
For urban dwellers, what happened to all the physical resources throughout the vast expanse of rural America? Well, that’s none of your business anymore. After all, you are “smart” now.
(Your) Data Is The Fuel Of Smart Cities
Smart City engineers pretending to be urban planners see data as the essential life-blood of Smart City technology, which technology has absolutely no value or efficacy without the data. This is why 5G is being railroaded across America. ⁃ TN Editor
Hudson Yards in New York and Sidewalk Labs’ project in Toronto are test cases that will radically change the way our cities work through the use of data and the Internet of Things.
As I discussed in a previous post, the Internet of Things has evolved to encompass a range of devices, from the smallest household appliance to self-driving cars. On a larger scale, smart city developments compound the benefits of IoT by collecting and analyzing data on usage patterns to create a reciprocal relationship between residents and their communities.
These projects are not only helping to implement existing technology in more sustainable ways but, by collecting and analyzing data on daily usage patterns, will also help us to optimize future sustainable energy solutions.
A Microcity in New York
Hudson Yards in New York has played a significant role in helping the public understand the potential that IoT plays in developing a more efficient community.
The project features a microgrid that consolidates the power and heat demands of the project and “connects the buildings in a thermal loop.” While powered by two cogeneration plants, rather than sustainable wind or solar power, the small plant that powers Hudson Yards is twice as efficient due to its repurposing of the hot water used in the generation of electricity for heating purposes. The immediacy of the utility plant also reduces the losses associated with transmission. All told, the project is estimated to save 24,000 MT of greenhouse gasses from entering the atmosphere each year.
In order to reduce costs, the microgrid is connected to the City’s larger grid and contributes excess power. In the event of a power outage, the likes of which have roiled New York City every few years, Hudson Yards’ microgrid can be isolated to maintain power for the buildings within the project’s perimeter.
Moreover, the project constantly collects data on the usage patterns of inhabitants in order to model future energy needs and optimize existing processes. Not only can a better understanding of system-wide energy usage help future adoption of renewable energy by helping to predict needs, but it can also help to optimize conditions in commercial workspaces to lower power usage over time.
Data as a Resource
Sidewalk Labs’ Quayside project in Toronto offers similar lessons for how smart technology is changing residents’ relationships with their communities. Quayside, a former industrial area, is being developed as a mixed-use area that aims to cut carbon emissions by 89 percent from today’s average use.
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.
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.
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