The New Urban Agenda Heads To Habitat III

Yet another ‘non-binding international agreement’. The New Urban Agenda will be adopted this October and will shape city development for the next 20 years.  TN Editor

Having run the diplomatic equivalent of a cross-country marathon, there was concern that negotiations on the New Urban Agenda might trip at the final hurdle. Three days of talks were needed, with negotiations continuing long into the night before agreement was reached on Saturday night in New York.

The agenda is a non-binding international agreement designed to shape urban development over the next two decades. It will be formally adopted at the UN Habitat IIIsummit in Quito, Ecuador, from October 17-20, 2016.

Negotiations began in New York at the first preparatory meeting in September 2014. It was envisaged then, if everything went smoothly, that the final draft would be agreed at the third preparatory committee meeting in Surabaya, Indonesia, on July 25–27, 2016. The negotiators in Surabaya, however, could not reach consensus. Instead they punted the draft to a final intersessional meeting held in New York last week.

The road to Quito has been at times precarious and it is unclear how the agreement will be taken forward thereafter. It is a tremendous achievement, though, when you consider the highly contested terrain the international community has been able to negotiate to reach an agreement.

Credit should go to the dedicated team at UN-Habitat, the committed representatives from civil society (under the banner of the World Urban Campaign) and the member state negotiators. Although not without his critics, the leadership from UN-Habitat executive director Joan Clos has also been significant in moving the agreement forward (or at least not messing things up).

What is at stake?

The disagreements were many, but I would like to point out three particular issues of contention.

First, it is recognised that no single UN agency can reasonably be given responsibility to implement such an all-encompassing agenda for the future of our cities. UN-Habitat hoped to have this role, but its motivation was to gain both influence and financial resources.

Second, co-operation from sub-national, city and local governments is a prerequisite for successful implementation. From the very start of negotiations, they have felt excluded from what is principally an agreement between nation-states. Sub-national government wants more say on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

Third, civil society has fully engaged with the formulation of the agenda and successfully pushed for the principle of the “right to the city” to be included.

This was a huge and historic victory for civil society from a social justice perspective. This encapsulates the “paradigm shift” that Clos often talks about in terms of a new global emphasis on “cities for people, not for profit”.

All of the above will be the subject of intense analysis and discussion once the New Urban Agenda is adopted. If taken seriously, each has the potential to be transformative.

First, the UN system now needs to reflect on how best to promote urban sustainability. Second, sub-national governments need to reshape how they interact and influence the UN. Third, cities need to re-evaluate how they work with and for their people.

A bumpy road ahead

Realistically, the biggest headaches will start from Quito onwards. By far the most significant challenge is the timing. For the UN, 2015 was an apex year with the adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (the 2030 Agenda) and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

In contrast, 2016 has been a year of intense discussion and reflection on how best to implement and fund those two world-changing initiatives. The fundamental predicament will therefore be how to squeeze the implementation of the New Urban Agenda into an already jam-packed and rapidly evolving global schema.

The situation is complicated by the fact that a new UN secretary-general will take up office from January 1, 2017. They will inherit a UN system that needs drastic reform to deliver effectively on the 2030 Agenda. Some major reforms have been proposed, and the new UN chief is going to have their hands full.

The central aim is to reduce fragmentation and duplication of effort. This implies that we need a multi-agency approach to the New Urban Agenda.

This was one of the sticking points in New York last week as negotiators struggled with two proposals on implementation responsibilities.

The first option, supported by the G77 (pushed by UN-Habitat host country Kenya), was for a strengthened UN-Habitat with universal representation in its governing council and greater financial resources.

The second, from the European Union and others who would be footing the bill, was a recommendation that the institutional framework to support the New Urban Agenda be determined in the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly. This would effectively put off the decision to late 2017.

A compromise between these positions was reached in New York. This gives UN-Habitat a period of grace to move forward from Quito until new arrangements are determined.

Innovation should follow from Quito

There is a proposal that the best way forward would be to establish a new co-ordinating body – UN Cities – similar to UN Water and UN Energy.

This would certainly be more in line with the way that funding is moving from donors to the UN system in recent years – known as multi-partner trust funds – with the aim of increasing agency co-ordination.

An initiative like UN-Cities could also provide a more effective framework (or a clean slate) for how the UN works with sub-national government. Another option could be a UN Council for Cities and/or a Global Parliament of Mayors. Both represent a significant departure from the practice to date and would likely take some time to become a reality.

While these global-level institutional shell games play out, perhaps we may end up concluding that the most significant outcome from Quito is the emphasis on the right to the city.

There is a rich intellectual tradition reaching back to Henri Lefebvre’s 1968 book, Le Droit à la ville. If seriously taken forward, the notion of the right to the city – essentially a human-rights approach to city governance, development and sustainability – would bring into focus a wide array of social justice issues. This includes how we deal with homelessness, urban poverty, gentrification and the privatisation of public space.

Can this transformation really happen, or are we doomed to repeat the follies of Agenda 21and the Kyoto Protocol?

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Feds Kickstart ‘Array Of Things’ For Blanket Surveillance In Chicago

All rhetoric aside about how this will benefit residents, recognize that this is a pure 100% exercise in Technocracy by Technocrats. First, the primary source of funding is the National Science Foundation (NSF), with additional funds coming from the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL, a government laboratory). Both organizations are saturated with Technocrats who aspire to run society as a “science of social engineering” project. Second, the hardware and software were both created at the Argonne National Laboratory. Thus, this is exclusively a government project.

This program certainly ranks with the original creation of Smart Grid that came to life in a 2009 partnership between the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). The DOE supplied the funding and PNNL supplied the hardware and software. There was no public demand for Smart Grid, just as there is no public demand for the Array of Things in Chicago.

As a pilot project in Chicago, we can fully expect to see the Array of Things spread to American cities nationwide. It will be quickly integrated into the Sustainable Cities initiative as a core element of monitoring and social control.  TN Editor

This week in Chicago, the Array of Things team begins the first phase of the groundbreaking urban sensing project, installing the first of an eventual 500 nodes on city streets. By measuring data on air quality, climate, traffic and other urban features, these pilot nodes kick off an innovative partnership between the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, and the City of Chicago to better understand, serve, and improve cities.

Array of Things is designed as a “fitness tracker” for the city, collecting new streams of data on Chicago’s environment, infrastructure, and activity. This hyper-local, open data can help researchers, city officials, and software developers study and address critical city challenges, such as preventing urban flooding, improving traffic safety and air quality, and assessing the nature and impact of climate change.

In the first phase of the project, 50 nodes will be installed in August and September on traffic light poles in The Loop, Pilsen, Logan Square, and along Lake Michigan. These nodes will contain sensors for measuring air and surface temperature, barometric pressure, light, vibration, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and ambient sound intensity. Two cameras will collect data on vehicle and foot traffic, standing water, sky color, and cloud cover.

The first two nodes were installed last week at the intersections of Damen and Archer Avenues and Damen Avenue and Cermak Road, where they will collect information on weather, traffic, and air quality. A total of 500 nodes will be installed across Chicago by the end of 2018, and additional nodes will be shared with cities across the United States and in countries such as England, Mexico, and Taiwan.

“The University of Chicago has a long and flourishing tradition of scholarship that engages with urban life and makes a positive impact,” said Robert J. Zimmer, president of the University. “The Array of Things project advances these ideals by gathering a broad scope of data about the urban environment, in a form that researchers, policymakers and residents can use to develop innovative ways of improving our city and urban areas around the world.”

“The Array of Things project is just one example of the advancements that are possible when the city, university and Argonne combine their diverse and complementary perspectives, experience and expertise,” said Argonne Director Peter B. Littlewood. “I’m excited to see the Array of Things fulfill its potential to help make Chicago cleaner, healthier and more livable, and I also look forward to future game-changing collaborations with our local partners.”

Initial node locations and data applications were determined based on interactions with community organizations and research groups. Eight nodes in Pilsen will contain sensors for tracking air quality and its relationship with asthma and other diseases. Partnerships with the Chicago Loop Alliance and Vision Zero motivated studies of pedestrian and vehicle flow and traffic safety in The Loop neighborhood. And scientists at UChicago and Argonne chose locations along the lake and across the middle of Chicago that will allow for optimal measurements of features related to urban weather and climate change.

array of things

“The Array of Things is a community technology,” said Charlie Catlett, director of the Urban Center and Computation and Dataat the University of Chicago and Argonne and the lead investigator of Array of Things. “It’s about creating new streams of data that help us understand and address the most critical urban challenges. Where we see an intersection of resident concerns, science interests and policymaker interest, that’s where we see opportunity for Array of Things deployment in Chicago.”

Array of Things will also support City of Chicago efforts to provide smarter and proactive services using predictive analytics and data-driven policy. For example, by tracking the weather conditions leading up to flooding at intersections, city crews can respond more quickly to floods or make infrastructural changes that prevent standing water from accumulating. City departments could also use data on heavy truck traffic and air quality to make decisions about commercial routing that preserves clean air and safe roads in residential neighborhoods.

“It’s truly doing science in the city and out in the communities. We’ll be able to engage with community groups to help them make the data their own and figure out to use it to address the questions they have,” said Brenna Berman, Chief Information Officer of the City of Chicago. “You’re going to see community groups use this data to understand their communities and neighborhoods better as we all try to build a better life here in Chicago.”

Data collected by Array of Things nodes will be open, free, and available to the public, researchers, and developers. After a brief period of testing and calibration, the project will publish data through the City of Chicago Data Portal, open data platformPlenar.io, and via application programming interfaces (APIs). As specified by the Array of Things privacy and governance policies, no personally identifiable information will be stored or released by sensor nodes.

Array of Things is funded by a $3.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, with additional investments from Argonne and the Chicago Innovation Exchange.

“We at the National Science Foundation are proud to support the Array of Things,” said Jim Kurose, head of Computer and Information Science and Engineering at NSF. “The launch of the first nodes will provide important information and data-driven insights about the health of cities and residents, and illustrate how fundamental research is vital to the transformation of our local communities envisioned by the National Smart Cities Initiative.”

The underlying software and hardware uses the Waggle sensor platform, designed by Pete Beckman, Rajesh Sankaran, and Catlett at Argonne. The node enclosures were designed and manufactured by Product Development Technologies in Lake Zurich, IL, from original designs by Douglas Pancoast and Satya Mark Basu of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. AT&T is the project’s communications partner, providing all AoT connectivity for Chicago. Array of Things technology was developed with help from industry partners who provided in-kind engineering expertise, including Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola Solutions, Schneider Electric, and Zebra Technologies.

For more information on Array of Things, or to suggest a future research question or node location, visit arrayofthings.us.

Read full press release here…




Ten Global Cities Are Pledged To Be Car-Free Technates

Global city planners are actively transforming large cities into managed technates containing ‘car-free’ zones, where public transportation,  bicycles or foot-power will be the only modes of transportation.  TN Editor

In 2015, Oslo announced a plan to ban all cars from its city center by 2019. Now, the country of Norway wants to take the initiative a step further.

According to Time, Norway ispreparing a bill that, if passed, would ban the sale of gas-powered cars in the country by 2025.

But cities in Norway are not the only ones getting ready to take the car-free plunge. Urban planners and policy makers around the world have started to brainstorm ways that cities can create more space for pedestrians and lower CO2 emissions from diesel.

Here are 10 cities leading the car-free movement.

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Synthetic Biology: We Will Grow Entire Cities Out Of Living Organisms

Technocrat scientists believe they can ‘code’ any kind of future they want, but what about what everyone else wants? These are the overlords of Technocracy who believe that we should just ‘trust them’ to build Utopia.  TN Editor

Imagine a future where there is no need to cut down a tree and reshape that raw material into a chair or table. Instead, we could grow our furniture by custom-engineering moss or mushrooms. Perhaps glowing bacteria will light our cities, and we’ll be able to bring back extinct species, or wipe out Lyme disease — or maybe even terraform Mars. Synthetic biology could help us accomplish all that.

That’s the message of the latest video in a new mini-documentary Web series called Explorations, focusing on potentially transformative areas of scientific research: Genomics, artificial intelligence, neurobiology, transportation, space exploration and synthetic biology. It’s a passion project of entrepreneur Bryan Johnson, founder of OS Fund and the payments processing company Braintree.

There’s a good selection of featured voices in the video. You’ve got pioneers like Harvard’s George Church and Drew Endy of Stanford University mixed in with visionaries like Rehma Shetty of Ginkgo Bioworks(which designs custom microbes, like yeast that smells like grapes, and dreams of building furniture from genetically tailored fungi); the folks at Paris-based startup Glowee (who think bioluminescence is the future of lighting); and artist/designer Daisy Ginsberg, who weaves synthetic biology into her creative projects to reimagine systems design.

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The ‘New Urban Agenda’ Is Coming At UN’s Habitat III in October 2016

TN Note: If you thought Agenda 21 was dangerous to freedom and liberty, just wait until you see the New Urban Agenda that will be produced at the upcoming Habitat III conference. The original ‘Urban Agenda’ was based on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which have been updated with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and will be the basis for the New Urban Agenda.

What is the New Urban Agenda?

The New Urban Agenda will be the outcome document agreed upon at the Habitat III cities conference in October 2016. In turn, it will guide the efforts around urbanization of a wide range of actors — nation states, city and regional leaders, international development funders, United Nations programmes and civil society — for the next 20 years. Inevitably, this agenda will also lay the groundwork for policies and approaches that will extend, and impact, far into the future.

Who will write the New Urban Agenda?

The preparatory process along the road to Quito will influence the formulation of the New Urban Agenda, which was unveiled as a “zero draft” in May 2016. That preparatory process included an extensive series of official and semi-official events, including regional meetings, thematic meetings and “Urban Thinkers Campuses” for stakeholder input.

In addition, from August 2015 to February 2016 a group of 200 experts, known as “policy units”, came up with important recommendations for the drafting and implementing of the New Urban Agenda. Those recommendations, too, were open to broad public comment.

While reflecting the ideas hashed out in the global dialogue that leads up to the October 2016 event, eventually the Habitat III Bureau (composed of 10 U. N. member states) and Secretariat were the ones to write the zero draft. Its terms are now being negotiated by member states before an agreement is, hopefully, reached in Quito.

The United Nations’ current thinking on global urbanization is summed up in the Habitat Agenda: Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlements, the outcome document agreed upon in 1996 at the Habitat II conference. It called for adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements in an urbanizing world.

Since then, over 100 countries have adopted constitutional rights to adequate housing, a major success of the Habitat Agenda. At the same time, however, international aid organizations and bilateral development agencies have steadily reduced their investments in cities and slashed their urban programmes. These are trends that have challenged the full implementation of the Habitat Agenda.

What has been the legacy of this previous agenda?

Within the United Nations, the Habitat Agenda’s influence has been wide-ranging over the past two decades. Its main provisions worked their way into the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of 2000 with a target of achieving “cities without slums”. The MDGs’ focus on eradicating poverty and ensuring environmental sustainability closely correlated with the Habitat Agenda.

Since then, major United Nations gatherings on sustainable development, such as the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 and Rio+20 in 2012, have consistently reaffirmed the core tenets of the Habitat Agenda.

Current discussions around the Post-2015 Development Agenda, too, draw on the principles of the Habitat Agenda. For example, “Realizing the Future We Want For All”, the 2012 report to the secretary-general by a U. N. task team, noted that by 2050, “70 per cent of the world’s population will be living in cities.” That report also highlighted the development challenges inherent in rapid urbanization.

Finally, the follow-up development agenda to the MDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also include prominent reference to the spirit of the Habitat Agenda. The urban-focused SDG, Goal 11, can also be seen as an extension of an idea first set out by the Habitat Agenda.

What will the New Urban Agenda cover?

The New Urban Agenda, coming on the heels of the crystallization of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, will seek to create a mutually reinforcing relationship between urbanization and development. The idea is that these two concepts will become parallel vehicles for sustainable development.

Early documents on the New Urban Agenda suggest that it will particularly highlight what are being referred to as “development enablers” and “operational enablers”. Together, this thinking goes, these two factors will be able to further cement the relationship between urbanization and sustainable development.

Development enablers can be thought of as frameworks that seek to harness the multiple, often chaotic forces of urbanization in ways that can generate across-the-board growth. Examples of development enablers that the New Urban Agenda will highlight include national urban policy; laws, institutions and systems of governance; and the broad urban economy.

Operational enablers, on the other hand, aim to bolster sustainable urban development — or to allow it to take place at all. When implemented, they result in better outcomes for patterns of land use, how a city is formed and how resources are managed. The New Urban Agenda will highlight three operational enablers, collectively being referred to by the UN-Habitat leadership as the “three-legged” approach: local fiscal systems, urban planning, and basic services and infrastructure.

What priorities will guide the New Urban Agenda?

Beyond the specific technocratic solutions of economics and governance, several core ideas will form the ideological underpinnings of the New Urban Agenda. Initial documents suggest that, for instance, democratic development and respect for human rights will feature prominently, as will the relationship between the environment and urbanization.

Similarly, the New Urban Agenda will almost certainly include significant focus on equity in the face of globalization, as well as how to ensure the safety and security of everyone who lives in urban areas, of any gender and age. Risk reduction and urban resilience will likewise play prominent roles. And the new agenda will place key importance on figuring out how to set up a global monitoring mechanism to track all of these issues and concerns.

Meanwhile, the core issues of the Habitat Agenda — adequate housing and sustainable human settlements — remain on the table, as the number of people worldwide living in urban slums continues to grow. Indeed, in the time since the Habitat Agenda was adopted the world has become majority urban, lending extra urgency to the New Urban Agenda.

There is also an increasing recognition that cities have morphed into mega-regions, urban corridors and city-regions whose economic, social and political geographies defy traditional conceptions of the “city”. The New Urban Agenda will have to address these trends in urbanization while also recognizing that cities and metropolitan areas are the major drivers of national economies.

This fact in particular should entice member states to give credence to the tenets of the New Urban Agenda.

Will the New Urban Agenda be a binding agreement for member states?

No. As an “agenda” it will provide guidance to nation states, city and regional authorities, civil society, foundations, NGOs, academic researchers and U. N. agencies in their thinking about cities, urbanization and sustainable development. But guidance is not binding.

This arrangement is different from, for example, the December 2015 climate negotiations in Paris, which aspired to result in a legally binding agreement — terms that could now be reflected in the New Urban Agenda. After all, there is increasingly widespread agreement that cities today hold the key to quick and immediate action on global climate change.

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Australia’s First Smart City Promises To Be Anathema To Privacy And Liberty

TN Note: Welcome to the future of total information awareness and smart cities. Adelaide is the first Smart City that will employ everything that the Internet of Things has to offer, from camera surveillance to control over energy via smart grid. This is the beginning of Scientific Dictatorship, or Technocracy. 

Stepping into the elevator at the school for computer sciences hub at Adelaide University, Prof Ali Babar shakes his head in exasperation.

As the doors close the head of the Australian centre for smart cities mentions the woman recently found dead in China 30 days after technicians attempting to fix a glitch cut power to the lift she was in and left her stranded inside.

“That’s the kind of thing that wouldn’t happen in a smart city,” he says.

Babar has just finished another day coordinating with a coalition of government, business and academia about his mission to turn Adelaide into a trial site for such innovations that could one day be rolled out across the rest of Australia and around the world.

The goal is to identify ways in which emerging digital technologies can improve how a city functions, whether traffic congestion, reducing carbon emissions or – as in the case of the elevator in Xi’an – personal safety.

“Adelaide is small enough to use as a laboratory but large enough to undertake ambitious initiatives,” he says.

“A proof of concept can be developed and tested here.”

Central to the idea of a smart city is the internet of things – everyday objects that feature online connectivity, such as elevators that actively communicate data to technicians about malfunctions and the number of passengers on board.

Other prospective technologies being looked at in the realm of safety include biometric readers that allow paramedics to obtain the medical records of an incapacitated patient via a fingerprint scan, or video recognition techniques capable of identifying suspects of a crime even if they are wearing a mask.

Initiated eight months ago, key players in the project include the University of Adelaide, the South Australian Department of State Development, Adelaide City council and companies including Ernst and Young, Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, Fuji and Xerox.

Most recently, on 3 March, Babar secured a memorandum of understanding with tech giants NEC Australia.

“We will try to brainstorm suitable projects for Adelaide by partnering with [NEC Australia], sharing findings and making those findings available to the general public,” he says.

“That in turn will stimulate further collaboration with industry partners and government.”

NEC Australia’s South Australian state manager, Milan Djuricic, says NEC was involved in a similar initiative in Britain as part of the Bristol Is Open project, to which the company contributed software-defined networking (SDN) compatible switches, LTE small cells and iPasolink ultra-compact microwave systems.

“It was a similar arrangement to Adelaide in that a major university [Bristol University] was involved and there was a joint effort,” he says.

He says Adelaide was attractive for NEC because it offered a solid foundation of infrastructure to build upon, a receptive political environment, and particular challenges that Bristol did not present.

“We can take things further in Adelaide in relation to energy management and water management, given South Australia is the driest state in the driest country,” he says.

“NEC has leading global technologies in relation to water leakage detection which help identify failures before they fail.

“That means investment can be made in the right areas to prevent water leakage.”

NEC also has plenty to offer when it comes to public safety, with the company’s biometric identification technologies already being used on the smartphones of South Australian and Northern Territory police to enable immediate identification of members of the public.

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Smart Communications Platform For Smart Grid, Smart Cities And IoT

TN Note: In the beginning of Smart Grid rollout, there was outright denial that it would ever be used to control or monitor a person’s home or business. This writer knew different because monitoring and control was the exact specification of original Technocracy from the 1930s. This article spells out the components that will create a nexus of control: smart meters, smart cities and the Internet of Things.

Trilliant has unveiled the newly enhanced, multi-technology and multi-purpose Smart Communications Platform to help utilities and cities deliver smart grid and smart city benefits.

Having worked with leading utilities and cities globally who collectively serve more than 100 million customers, Trilliant understands that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to infrastructure modernization. Each utility and city has different priorities, opportunities, challenges and regulatory environments. Some may want to start with advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) to improve operational efficiency and consumer engagement, while others want to start with distribution automation (DA) to enhance reliability. Still others, especially in developing countries, may want to start by better addressing non-technical losses and achieve revenue protection first. Utilities may also approach deployments differently: some may prefer mass deployments while others want to start with targeted deployments first. No matter what the priorities and approaches are, many understand that it is important to put in the right Smart Communications Platform from the beginning, to immediately address their challenges today, while at the same time putting in the right foundation to enable other applications as needs evolve in the future.

The newly enhanced Trilliant Smart Communications Platform is developed with this in mind. It is a multi-technology, multi-purpose Smart Communications Platform that addresses utilities’ needs today while giving them the options and flexibility for tomorrow. For those utilities who want to focus on distribution automation first, Trilliant offers the high-bandwidth, low-latency, private 5.8GHz WAN/FAN Mesh network suitable for advanced DA applications.

For those utilities who want to deploy mass AMI deployments, Trilliant offers the private 2.4GHz NAN Mesh network. For those utilities operating in a highly-deregulated environments and prefer a public network, Trilliant also offers the public cellular-based AMI network. To further provide utilities with even more options and flexibility, Trilliant recently added RPMA technology to its platform, best suited for targeted deployments or hard-to-reach areas. The breadth and depth of the multi-technology, multi-purpose Trilliant Smart Communications Platform give utilities the most options and flexibility to choose the technology that best fit their priorities today while preparing them for the opportunities of tomorrow.

Truly Open Platform

One of the hallmarks of the Trilliant Smart Communications Platform is its flexibility, enabling utilities and cities to choose any best-of-breed application and device vendors from our strong ecosystem of partners, be it AMI, DA, Smart Cities or Analytics. The powerful Trilliant Smart Communications Platform uses Common Information Model (CIM) on the application and analytics side to enable AMI, DA, Smart Cities and analytics partners to interface seamlessly.

On the device side, the Trilliant Smart Communications Platform uses Common Communications Modules to allow the seamless integration with any network device, be it DA devices, electric meters, water meters, gas meters, smart street lights or other smart devices in the future. Unlike other communications platforms who use proprietary standards, the Trilliant Smart Communications Platform leverages globally-available, open standards to give utilities and cities the most options and flexibility to choose best-of-breed application, analytics and network device that best fit their needs.

By supporting standard protocols and interfaces, the Trilliant Smart Communications Platform is “application-aware” and “device agnostic”, providing utilities and cities the widest variety of applications, analytics and devices to choose from, all on one powerful network.

The company’s 5.8 GHz WAN/FAN offers utilities a 54 MBps backbone network capable of supporting AMI, DA and other demanding smart applications. This high bandwidth comes with very low 7 millisecond latency required for advanced DA applications. The company’s NAN platform operates in the globally-available 2.4 GHz spectrum and delivers superior performance with peak data rates of 800 Kbps and 80 MHz of optimized use of the available bandwidth, maximizing capacity and throughput. Moreover, the Trilliant Platform also offers cellular and RPMA networks for those utilities who look for suitable solutions for targeted deployments or hard-to-reach areas. The integrated, multi-technology, multi-purpose Trilliant Platform gives utilities and cities the ability to manage various “smart” deployments and meet different performance standards/service levels on one powerful platform.

Industrial-Grade, End-to-End Security

The Trilliant Smart Communications Platform offers utilities a high level of security, confidentiality and data privacy for every device on the network and meets the most stringent regulations of leading industry-governing bodies worldwide. It utilizes industry-standard protocols at the link, network and application layers to create an environment that secures individual devices, groups of devices and separate application domains operating on a single network. The Platform uses industry-standard Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and Virtual Private Network (VPN) methods to deliver a proven security solution.

Device-Level Intelligence at Scale

The platform is architected to support any Smart Grid (AMI, DA, DSM), Smart City and Internet of Things (IoT) application, today and tomorrow. Every node on the Trilliant network is capable of edge-intelligence with the computing power and memory to support customized applications across the network. Partitioning of application domains allows multiple applications to be supported, each with its own independent security and Quality of Service (QoS) requirements. The Platform’s scalability ensures performance and reliability with millions of devices on the network.

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Life In 2065: Cities, Cyborgs And Technocrat Managers

Every conceivable concept of historic Technocracy can be found in this article. Of course, only “experts” such as scientists and engineers can properly plan such a future; citizens will merely have to go along with the program. Aldous Huxley proposed in Brave New World (1932) that Scientific Dictatorship would be the inevitable outcome. -TN Editor

Half a century ago, when politicians, planners, writers and film-makers imagined the Britain of the 21st century, their vision was, more often than not, often one of gleaming modern cities and radical technological innovation. Harold Wilson invoked a nation “forged in the white heat” of the scientific revolution; children cowered behind the sofa as Dr Who battled cyborgs; cities were reconstructed from concrete and encircled, connected and sliced through with huge new motorways.

But there are few things as dated as yesterday’s futures – many of the utopian and dystopian fantasy futures of the 20th century now seem somewhere between quaint and absurd. The naïve belief in technological fixes to deep social and economic problems has left many lasting scars in the urban landscape of the UK. Over the past 50 years, we – and the cities that more and more of us inhabit – have changed beyond recognition.

Now, the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) new multi-million pound Urban Transformations initiative will bring together some of Britain’s most distinguished academics. Their goal: to help us understand and address the challenges and changes our cities will face over the next half-century.

Forging a path

Cities are “path dependent”: their futures are shaped by past and present decisions. At times, they become locked in to outdated technologies. Cities in the US have been shaped and ruled by the car. Meanwhile, by not separating waste and drinking water in domestic plumbing, British cities spend vast sums ensuring the quality of water that flushes the loo is as potable as the water we drink from the tap.

It is estimated that the UK will spend more than £400bn on infrastructure in the next 20 years alone. Most of this will be focused on the built environment of our cities, their transport connectivity and their physical fabric.

It will be challenging to predict what sort of extraordinary changes will shape urban Britain over the next five decades. But we need to lay solid foundations for the future by developing the deepest possible understanding of the present. This means identifying how these urban environments – and the millions of people who create and inhabit them – can be given the very best chance to thrive.

Smart cities

In the future, British cities will become more efficient, and “smarter”, through new generations of computing. Increasingly, information will be gathered by the very infrastructure that reshapes the city. In the Internet of Things, the alarm at home may be connected to your phone, a security company and a remote monitor. Machines can speak to one another, and become human-oriented interfaces simultaneously.

These “big data” systems are embedding into the built environment, and are routinely used by populations through hand-held devices ranging from credit cards that log consumer preferences, to GPS-tracked smart phones. These systems are delivering large quantities of information about the way cities function. The data is streamed and archived in real time, to create a new record of all that goes on in the functions that are being automated. All of this must be done in the context of the new reality of British urban life, which is, in many respects, no less incredible than the sci-fi future imagined in the 1960s.

These days, a Brazilian migrant in the UK, working on a Spanish passport, can simultaneously Skype home to South America, use an app to measure the calories she’s burned, and livestream a film of her young child in a suburban nursery – all on the same hand-held device. We can all become cyborgs – part human, part machine – as we combine our everyday life with monitors, screens, and new technologies worn on the wrist or sheltered in our pockets.

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America May Not Prepared For Self-Driving Cars

TN Note: Society and industry are going to be turned upside-down with driverless cars. Shared rides but sans a driver, will put Uber and taxi cabs out of business. Most of society will not even own a car, but rather will pay share fees to get from point A to point B. This is the dream of technocrats and Sustainable Development: Smart Cities. For instance, the Smart Cities Council is playing up driverless cars as the wave of the future.

Sometime in the future – although no one quite knows when – your morning commute may look something like this: Open an app, summon a car and wait for the arrival of a driverless vehicle that will whisk you to work like a ghost chauffeur.

For many of the automakers and technology companies gathering at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, the big question is not whether such an event could become a reality, but whether we are ready.

The short answer: We are not.

“The technology is really advancing faster than we had originally anticipated,” said Steve Hill, the director of the governor’s office of economic development in Nevada, the first state to pass legislation allowing driverless cars to be tested, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. “I wouldn’t really say that Nevada, or really any place else, has really developed the policies that will be needed to facilitate the industry moving forward.”

By many accounts, Mr. Hill is right. Even though fully autonomous cars could be ready for the road within the next decade, only 6 percent of the country’s most populous cities have accounted for them in their long-term plans, according to a study from the National League of Cities, an advocacy and research group.

“If governments are not equipped to react quickly when automated vehicle technology is ready for use by consumers, that will be a challenge, and it has the possibility to delay consumer benefits from this technology,” said Emily Castor, the director of transportation policy at Lyft, which recently announced a $500 million partnership with General Motors dedicated in part to developing a fleet of autonomous cars.

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Tiny 160-Square-Foot Houses The Future Of Weekend Getaways

TN Note: Short story, but you have to listen to Pete Seegar’s 1963 song, Little Boxes. Was he prophetic, or what?

Sometimes vacations are more trouble than they’re worth. You spend a lot of money, travel far, and leave stressed.

Getaway, a hospitality startup launched in the Harvard Innovation Lab, shakes up that routine by offering tiny houses for rent. Relaxing in the forest reins in the temptation to take day trips or shop, leaving guests to unwind. It’s like camping, but with the creature comforts of home.

The company maintains three 160-square-foot tiny houses in the Massachusetts woods, which guests can book for $99 a night. The location of the homes is top secret, but all are within a two-hour drive of Boston.

Tech Insider spoke with Jon Staff, CEO of Getaway and a Harvard Business School student, to see why tiny houses might be the future of tourism.

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