Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Smart Cities

Comments

Washington’s bikeshare is a capital idea

Capital Bikeshare gives you access to 1,100 bicycles around the city.Photo: DDOT DCDo you know what it means to be "dockblocked"? (Don't worry, that's a "D," not a "C," fellas.) If the answer is yes, you are probably a regular user of the Capital Bikeshare system in Washington, D.C. Dockblocked is what you call it when you can't dock your bikeshare bike because all the spaces are full in the station where you want to stop. It's one of very few glitches in a system that has proven popular beyond the hopes of city officials who launched it last fall. …

Comments

Great places: dense, wired, and sustainable

This is part three in a series on "great places." Read parts one, two, four, and five. Part of what makes great places great is ecological sustainability. So what's the best way to reduce our per-capita resource footprint? Typically you hear one of two stories. One is about technology: making gadgets, appliances, vehicles, and factories leaner and more efficient. The other is about conservation, i.e., consciously choosing to use less stuff. Neither of those stories captures the biggest opportunity and the best strategy for reducing consumption and waste, which is, quite simply, density. Density is the sine qua non of …

Comments

Behavioral nudges on electric bills could save three coal plants worth of emissions

Smarter electric bills make smarter consumers.Over the years, I've written quite a bit about social psychology, behavioral research, and how they can be used to encourage energy efficiency and conservation. I've also written quite a bit about Opower, a company that uses behavioral insights to help utilities communicate more effectively with their customers. (See links at the bottom of this post.) So it's nice to see EDF releasing a study of Opower's work: "Behavior and Energy Savings: Evidence from a Series of Experimental Interventions" [PDF]. The results are promising. The study tracks the use of "Home Energy Reports," which are …

Comments

The man who thinks Manhattan isn’t dense enough

New York City may not be the best example of a place that hasn't lived up to its potential for greater density.Photo: Randy von LiskiCross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. New York County, which comprises all of Manhattan, is the densest county in America at 71,166 people per square mile. It is twice as dense as No. 2, Brooklyn (which, incidentally, is followed by two more New York City counties, Bronx and Queens, at Nos. 3 and 4, respectively). Manhattan is over four times as dense as No. 5 San Francisco. This makes me wonder about Ed Glaeser, a …

Comments

Minneapolis to open 12 vacant lots to gardening

Minneapolis is opening up 12 vacant lots across the city to groups that will turn them into community gardens, because a lot strewn with tomatoes and strawberries sure beats one strewn with empty McDonald's cups. There's a long tradition of using empty space in cities for community gardens, and these programs can go wonky when the city decides the land's more valuable as a condo of office building. Minneapolis ran into this problem back in 2002. But the good news about these new plots is that the city has determined that they're "non-buildable," which means that if all goes well …

Comments

The iPhone is the new Prius

Ditch the car and get a bike, a transit farecard, and a smartphone.Photo: NoktonCross-posted from Shareable. Two years ago, my California driver's license expired. Living in Chicago at the time, where the smart resident uses bikes or public transit to avoid traffic, I hadn't found a compelling reason to get behind the wheel of our car in months. With plenty of other pressing tasks on my to-do list, renewing or replacing an expired out-of-state license quickly plummeted to the bottom of my priorities. Two years later, the license is still expired, and I'm happier, healthier, and richer for it. There's …

Comments

New app lets you identify the few remaining trees

Wouldn’t it be nice to get to know trees while they’re still around? Leafsnap can help. The new app, developed by a team of researchers at Columbia, University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution, contains a database of beautiful photos of leaves, barks, flowers, and fruits. All the lazy naturalist has to do to identify a tree is take a picture of one little leaf. It turns out, however, that you can't just point your iPhone camera at a tree, snap a picture, and find out what in the world it is. After gathering a leaf, fruit, flower or other …

Comments

Bloomberg wants to cover New York City’s landfills with solar panels

New York City's mayor Michael Bloomberg puts birds on things, if by "birds" you mean solar panels and "things" you mean the city’s myriad defunct landfills. The so-called greening of brownfields is a nationwide trend, since landfills and other plots of ruined land close to or even within cities are often not suitable for other applications. You can't build houses on a capped landfill, and short of turning them into parks -- an expensive and, to some people, kinda gross proposition -- they have few applications. Solar panel installations, however, tend to be light-weight and require nothing more than open …

Comments

Sci-fi skycrapers of the future

The cities of the future could combine dense living arrangements with energy innovation, according to the winners of architecture mag eVolo's annual skyscraper design competition. This design collects lightning and uses it to power hydrogen fuel cells. Some of the other winning skyscrapers are habitations, but others are recycling centers, turbines, and water purification facilities -- and one's a moon base that looks like a Gaudi cathedral. Click through the gallery on Popular Science and imagine our vertical-living, clean-energy-running, Martian Chronicles-looking future.

Read more: Cities, Smart Cities

Comments

The missing piece of Obama’s energy security plan: cities

Dude, you forgot the cities -- like Denver.I had plenty of complaints about Obama's big energy security speech last week -- see here and here. Most of them centered on his crassly political decision to put supply-side solutions first, despite the fact that supply is a red herring; all the serious solutions are demand-based. There's one complaint I didn't say much about, which I wanted to amplify: In the speech and in the accompanying materials, short shrift is given to land-use change, urban density, and transit. For a gentle version of that critique, here's urbanist champion Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.): …