Beware of Google’s Intentions

Journalist Susan Crawford takes a critical look at Quayside, Google’s Sidewalk Labs’ project in Toronto:

The situation appears messy: The details of the arrangement are not public, the planning process is being paid for by Google, and Google won’t continue funding that process unless government authorities promise they’ll reach a final agreement that aligns with Google’s interests. There are civil servants in every city, I’m willing to bet, who are deeply worried about massive IoT deals by their cities with companies like Google. It is likely that the burdens of these arrangements, over the decades to come, may outweigh whatever short-term benefits the city obtains. In partnering with local governments to create infrastructure, Alphabet says it is only trying to help. Local governments shouldn’t believe it.

Source: WIRED

Toronto’s Data-Laden Quayside Raises Surveillance Concerns

Quayside, as the project is known, will be laden with sensors and cameras tracking everyone who lives, works or merely passes through the area. In what Sidewalk Labs calls a marriage of technology and urbanism, the resulting mass of data will be used to further shape and refine the new city.

But extending the surveillance powers of one of the world’s largest tech companies from the virtual world to the real one raises privacy concerns for many residents. Others caution that, when it comes to cities, data-driven decision making can be misguided and undemocratic.

Source: The Seattle Times

Leading 2017 Urban Trends: Cross-Sector Work, Green Transportation

City leaders have developed a greater focus on sustainability and integrating technology and data into their operations, a shift that’s reflected in a number of smart city-focused conferences aimed at expanding the industry. Partnerships aren’t only forming between public and private entities; municipalities increasingly are partnering with each other to take on big projects.

Source: Smart Cities Dive

Collaboration Makes Smarter Communities

Across the nation, communities are building smarter energy infrastructure that leverages the power of data to solve problems. These projects will spur economic development, improve sustainability, enhance public safety and drive efficiencies — ultimately creating a better quality of life for citizens. For more of these projects to become reality, key stakeholders in the community, private industry and government must understand how best to work together.

Source: Smart Cities Dive

Cities, Suburbs and Exurbs: One Integrated System

Planners need to view cities, suburbs and exurbs not as discrete units but as regions, with one integrated environmental and technological system.

Millennial suburbanites want a new kind of landscape. They want breathing room but disdain the energy wastefulness, visual monotony and social conformity of postwar manufactured neighborhoods. If new suburbs can hit the sweet spot that accommodates the priorities of that generation, millennial habitats will redefine everyday life for all suburbanites, which is 70 percent of Americans.

Source: The New York Times

Unlocking the Circular Economy

Digital transformation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution holds the potential to redefine the very basis of our materials-reliant industrial economy. Enabled by the internet of things, a new model of growth gaining independence from finite resource extraction is emerging. Can pervasive connectivity become the new infrastructure enabling effective material flows, keeping products and materials at their highest value at all times, thus enabling the coming of age of the circular economy?

Source: World Economic Forum

The Smart Shareable Home

The circular economy is a concept by which materials and products are kept at their highest possible value at all times. The rapid and pervasive development of digital technologies, along with an understanding of circular economy principles, will drastically change life for the average urban citizen much sooner than we think.

Consider the smart shareable home. On walking out the door of your home, smart thermostats will trigger the heating in the apartment to turn down to a minimum, saving energy (and lowering bills). Citizens could make even better use of their assets by converting an extra room into a secure office, rentable on a city-wide sharing platform. Should someone want to rent it on a given day, the heating will quickly power up in time for the temporary resident to feel comfortable and welcome. Demand is likely to be strong — the connected city will have more remote workers and contractors who would appreciate the quiet space.

Source: World Economic Forum

Smart Cities Are Happening, Not in the Way We Are Told

In 2008, when the smart city movement began, Robert G. Hollands asked for “the real smart city to stand up.” Since then, there has been an intense and ongoing debate around this subject, as well as a number of projects self proclaiming their “smartness.” Great steps have been taken in some leading cities to explore how we turn digital innovation into public service improvements. But how do we get citizens involved as active agents of this digital urban revolution?

Source: Ciudades a Escala Humana