A smart city initiative is the target of people to live in, it includes all different types of leisure and connectivity; electronic data, sensors and full information and communication technology ICT that used IT managing assets, commercial, industrial, traffic, networks and all matters that related to sustainability and Eco-system. It helps people to have a positive interaction with the place, where they find a high performance of infrastructure. Thus, the smart city is a crucial argument to improve the quality of life and strengthen the relationship between cities and citizens. IEREK organizes the second international conference on "Future Smart Cities" in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the city has a promising potential of transformation to be smarter.
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“We’re working on a project that will blow your mind” is the first thing one sees when visiting the website for Bleutech Park, a Las Vegas “engineering firm” with the tagline “The future of infrastructure.” The firm is responsible for pitching what was anticipated to be the Las Vegas Valley’s $7.5 billion smart city, revealed earlier in August. The mastermind behind the futuristic development? Janet LeGrand, formerly known as Janet Garcia, a Florida woman with a history of alleged fraud and seeking out high dollar construction contracts, according to the Miami Herald. Announced earlier this Summer by Bleutech Park Properties, Bleutech Park Las Vegas was promised to be the “first digital infrastructure city of its kind in the world,” complete with autonomous vehicles, 100-percent renewable energy, AI, “supertrees,” and self-healing concrete structures, among other features that sounded perhaps too good to be true. It was expected to break ground this December and take six years to complete, despite the fact that many of the technologies promised in the proposal are still in their infancy (and commentators on AN's original article voiced similar suspicions). As it turns out, the Miami Herald has been reporting on LeGrand’s alleged transgressions since July 2017 when she first attempted to use an allegedly "fake" engineering firm, Bleu Network Inc., to score a $33.3 million construction contract with Homestead for a similar urban venture. She was then arrested, booked into Miami-Dade County Jail, and later filed a lawsuit against the city. In December 2017, she was charged again for wage theft, after allegedly failing to pay her employees hundreds of thousands of dollars. While the Miami-Dade charges are set for trial next month, that didn’t stop LeGrand from posting bail, relocating, and attempting an even grander undertaking in Las Vegas. From the beginning, the advanced technology seemed to promise lofty sustainability goals. Such goals included creating tech that would make its “own off-the-grid energy” powered by the sun, wind, and even footsteps; “supertrees” that would support a 95-percent reduction in water consumption; as well as entire building facades functioning as solar panels. Tom Letizia, a spokesperson for Bleutech, told Commercial Property Executive, “We hope to inspire other developers to commit to sustainability in a whole new way for our future and to put benefits ahead of costs.” Over email correspondence, Letizia delivered a statement to AN from LeGrand: "The Miami Herald story was a total misrepresentation. I have complete faith in our judicial system and I have total confidence that justice will prevail with this case." Bleutech’s key technology partners—Cisco, Knightscope, Pavegen, and Onyx Solar, all reputable companies with tangible products—demonstrated their respective contributions at an event held in Las Vegas on August 28, where the project designer, KME Architects, also presented a batch of new renderings. The aforementioned tech partners, as well as the general contractor, Martin-Harris Construction, expressed excitement in moving forward with the plans on time. Guy Martin, president of Martin-Harris, declined AN’s request to comment on the current situation. KME could not be reached for comment at the time of writing, and AN will update this article accordingly if they respond. It remains to be seen whether the project will be completed as originally scheduled.
Bleutech Park Las Vegas is being pitched as the first digital infrastructure city of its kind in the world, and (paradoxically) the latest in a line of "smart cities" worldwide. Announced by real estate investment trust Bleutech Park Properties, the park will be a "digital revolution" meant to redefine the infrastructure industry and will allegedly feature autonomous vehicles, renewable energies, AI, "supertrees," self-healing concrete structures, and more. The project is expected to break ground in December in the Las Vegas Valley and take six years to complete, although many of the technologies being proposed are still in their infancy. The buildings will be equipped with self-healing, energy-generating, and breathable materials and, according to Bluetech, the construction site will become a “living, breathing blueprint”. The flooring systems will capture and reuse the energy produced by human movement throughout common areas and parking structures. Bleutech Park buildings will also connect to a network of “supertrees”, allowing a 95 percent reduction in imported water consumption and an opportunity to improve biodiversity. All building facades will feature photovoltaic glass, a technology that converts light into electricity, turning entire exteriors into single solar panels. The company will also use what it's calling "aerial construction" to build the development, including the use of drones for navigating dangerous portions of the construction site. The mixed-used mini-city aims at tackling issues like affordable housing through “Workforce Housing”, a reciprocal act of service for those that serve the community, including nurses, police officers, teachers, firemen, and more. This unique approach is a foundation of Bleutech’s overall vision and ensures economic, cultural, and health benefits to people of all income levels in Las Vegas. Additional program includes offices, retail space, luxury housing, hotels and entertainment venues that will showcase energy generation and storage, waste-heat recovery, water purification, waste treatment, and localized air cleaning. City spokesman Jace Radke told Smart Cuties Dive that the project is not within Las Vegas's jurisdiction and is not affiliated with the city. Bleutech Park’s partners on the project are Cisco, construction contractor Martin-Harris Construction, Las Vegas real estate developer Khusrow Roohani, and the Las Vegas Laborers Union Local 872 with a promise to create more than 25,000 jobs in construction. The project is similar to other privately-funded smart city tech test sites, like the Sidewalk Labs Quayside project in Toronto and Blockchains LLC’s plans to build a 60,000-ace city near Reno.
The smart city is the king of go-to solutions for the problems that bedevil urban areas. At the moment, the concept—tech innovates those problems away!—is trending hard in Toronto thanks to the work of Sidewalk Labs, the Alphabet-owned company that dove face first into urban design a few years ago with a plan for a lakefront district in Ontario's capital. Now, that plan is a completed master plan, the foreground to any large development. The public got its first look at Sidewalk Labs' new neighborhoods yesterday when the company released a full run through of their finalized plans. Unlike New York's super-sleek Hudson Yards, a comparable "big development," there will be a forest's worth of wood buildings in this project. The digital doorstopper runs 1,500 pages and is available here, but the basic premise is two new mega-developments, with the potential for more, will be built mostly from mass timber and kitted out with sensors and data collectors that will, its authors contend, make life more pleasant for Torontonians by providing affordable housing, non-car transit options, jobs, and economic development. The company will, for a substantial investment and cut of the profits, develop real estate, finance transit networks, provide management services to government, and deliver what it calls "advanced systems," the whiz-bang infrastructure that supports the building of Quayside and Villiers West. The computerized promise of better services has garnered a lot of attention. Trash-sweeping robots would displace nifty nabber trash grabbers. Sensors embedded in crosswalks could, for example, keep the walk sign on until a pedestrian is safely on the opposite curve. Google's business model relies on pawning off data advertisers, but in a media briefing, Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff claimed that the very valuable data Sidewalk Labs collects will be underpinned by the "strongest data and privacy regime for any urban data in the world." That protection was certainly absent for Google Nest Cam users, and government officials still have concerns over whether the company's policies will align with Canadian data security laws. Data gleaned in Toronto, Doctoroff noted, will be stored in a data bank and won't be shared with third parties without users' "explicit consent." While it's too soon to tell how that promise shakes out, there's plenty of information on the smart city's design and construction. Unlike 20th-century glass-and-steel corporate modernism that projected power and influence, Sidewalk Labs is turning to mass timber for 12 major buildings in the Quayside portion of the development. The showcase here is both structures by London's Heatherwick Studios, the eminent go-to firm for megadevelopers, and an $80 million vertical timber supply chain for those buildings that will extend from forests to an Ontario factory to fashionable city blocks. Doctoroff said his company is working with the Toronto buildings department to amend rules that cap timber building heights at six stories in order to build up to 30 stories tall. The developments will feature a standard of mixed-use towers, but about 70 percent of the project will be devoted to housing. Of these units, about 40 percent, or 1,700 units, will be rented below-market. "We expect to make money the way a normal real estate company would," said Doctoroff. Sidewalk Labs is investing over $680 million in what is projected to be a $2.9 billion development. The credits list New York's Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB) and Heatherwick Studio as the teams responsible for the master plan sketches and renderings, but Doctoroff said Canadian firms would be behind most of the projects to come. Along with Stantec, BBB gets top billing for design and engineering services, while Snøhetta who were tapped for design services back in February, is credited alongside Heatherwick and dozens of other firms for research and development.
Smart cities, such as that planned by Sidewalk Labs in Toronto, are coming under increasing fire for their potential misuse of data gathered from their residents. Now, technology company Radio Physics Solutions (RPS) is working with Seattle-based Vulcan Inc. to install and demonstrate a scanning system across a public plaza capable of detecting concealed weapons from nearly 100 feet away. The scanning system, using a patented technology titled MiRTLE (also known as Millimeter-Wave Radar Threat Level Evaluation) developed by RPS, is proposed to operate across five workdays. If approved, RPS and Vulcan Inc. would have a 60-day window to implement the trial. In an application filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), RPS states that the system is capable of conducting over 3,000 scans of the plaza per second operating at a spectrum of frequency ranging from 71 to 100 gigahertz. While the Transport Security Administration and a high school in Texas have tested the technology, it has not yet been applied to an entirely public space. Additionally, past installations were mounted along rooftops while those for this trial are proposed at ground level. Besides concerns related to the scanning of lingering pedestrians and those with no intention of entering Vulcan’s headquarters, extended exposure to high-frequency radiation (potentially millions of scans over the course of many minutes) is not without its risks. In a statement to GeekWire, Gary King, CEO of RPS, responded to these concerns noting that RBS takes “safety very seriously, both in design and use of the product. Our safety calculations were presented to the FCC, which was completely satisfied with the safety of MiRTLE. Someone eating lunch in the plaza is very safe." While the proposal is still awaiting FCC approval, the agency has passed all of RBS's previous scanner trials.
Smart City Expo World Congress, held this year in Barcelona, is an annual architectural, engineering, and technology exhibition dedicated to creating a better future for cities worldwide through social collaboration and urban innovation. Among the projects that were unveiled at this November's event was CityIQ’s proposal to install 4,200 sensor nodes throughout San Diego, California, a major tech hub whose goal is to decrease its carbon emissions and energy use in order to fight climate change. The CityIQ nodes, which are part of an elaborate internet of things (IoT) project, will be coupled with new smart city apps to improve the city’s parking, traffic, and streetlight efficiency by an estimated 20 percent. CityIQ is already cooperating with multiple departments within San Diego, including the police department, San Diego Gas & Electric, and the Traffic and Engineering and Operations unit. The company's IoT project involves embedding sensors and software into the streets of the San Diego in order to collect and exchange data, and just last week, the city agreed to install 1,000 more nodes than originally planned. The new data that will be accumulated by the nodes can support a wide variety of innovative apps, including Genetec, which facilitates real-time emergency response, Xaqt, which displays the latest traffic patterns, CivicSmart, a smart parking app, and ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection app that can locate the scene of the shooter in less than a minute. The city is also working toward bringing a state-of-the-art Lightgrid system onto the streets, whose immediate data collection and connectivity will provide the city with a better understanding of streetlight usage, and it is expected to save the city over $250,000 in energy costs. “Our ability to leapfrog our smart cities technology ahead in both energy savings and scale is a testament to the hard work and ongoing collaboration of many public and private stakeholders,” said San Diego’s interim deputy chief operating officer Erik Caldwell in a statement. “We are proud of our progress so far in building a solution that will stand in the test of time and enhance our citizens’ quality of life.”
Bitcoin and its competitors haven’t managed to topple the world’s existing currencies just yet, but the blockchain technology underpinning them might soon be making the leap to urbanism. As The New York Times revealed, millionaire lawyer Jeffrey Berns has bought up 100 square miles in the Nevada desert and tapped Los Angeles’s Tom Wiscombe Architecture and Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects (EYRC) to design an as-of-yet-unnamed, futuristic city. Complete with homes, offices, a college, and research campus, the city will, if it gets built, also introduce a novel form of urban citizenship that allows citizens to vote on the blockchain. What is the blockchain? The digital currency Bitcoin was the tool’s first proof-of-concept, but the underlying technology, a ledger shared among all users of a service that allows for trackable peer-to-peer transactions without a middleman, has uses in nearly every field. Improving efficiency on construction sites and documenting the chain of ownership for artwork are only a few of the potential uses proposed for the technology (and unlike Bitcoin, don’t involve destroying the environment). Berns made his fortune on the rise of Ethereum, a Bitcoin competitor indirectly pegged to its value (as many other cryptocurrencies are). While the prices of cryptocurrencies are constantly in flux, Ethereum allows for more than the transfer of more information than just monetary value. Berns has proposed that all future residents will be given an Ethereum-based ID, which they can use to hold their personal information and securely vote from. Berns has already spent a reported $300 million on the city through his company Blockchains LLC, including commissioning a set of renderings of the future smart city from Wiscombe and EYRC. The architects went big, and plans include a technology park for the advancement of artificial intelligence, 3-D printing, and nanotechnology, all integrated into a blockchain-based system. Vertical manufacturing and workplace hybrid typologies have also been proposed, and from the renderings, it appears that many of the buildings might be clad in dizzying panel arrays that recall circuit boards and harken back to Wiscombe’s previous work. For the residential portion, Berns has already received pre-approval for thousands of homes, which will vary from single-family houses to mixed-use blocks to communal buildings. The preliminary designs for the larger housing complexes draw on existing desert precedents and will bring a touch of Arcosanti-meets-Blade-Runner to the city. Drone deliveries, fully electric autonomous vehicles that can weave between indoor and outdoor spaces, and plans to power the city off of 100 percent renewable energy are all on the table. It might seem pie in the sky, as so many utopian communities are, but Blockchains LLC is already engaging with the residents of Storey County, Nevada, and the tech companies who have industrial parks at the border of the 67,000-acre plot. The feedback gathered will go towards putting together a master plan and the environmental impact statement; construction is slated to begin at the end of 2019 if all goes as planned.
Concerns about data privacy continue to dog the “smart city” planned for the Toronto waterfront by Google’s sister company Sidewalk Labs. But it isn’t just residents and watchdog groups raising the alarm—consultants and advisors to the project are also jumping ship. The latest to leave is Dr. Ann Cavoukian, a privacy expert whose resignation was intended as a “strong statement” about the project's data protection issues. Announced last year, Quayside, as the neighborhood development is called, has from the beginning been envisioned as a district run on data and tech, and is the largest urban development of its kind in North America. A layer of sensors embedded in the city would control traffic systems, monitor air pollution, automate garbage collection, transport residents, and much more. In response to concerns about how it would protect the data, Sidewalk Labs just last week proposed that it should be managed by an independent data trust, according to a new data governance proposal. But this is far from enough for privacy experts like Cavoukian. “I imagined us creating a Smart City of Privacy, as opposed to a Smart City of Surveillance,” she wrote in her resignation letter. Cavoukian’s guidelines center around Privacy by Design principles, which incorporate privacy protection in every step of a project’s engineering process, a condition that she said Sidewalk Labs had also committed to. However, Cavoukian said she realized last week that the data gathered in Quayside, instead of being wiped and unidentifiable, would be available to third parties who would not be beholden to the privacy commitment made by Sidewalk Labs. The Alphabet company, for its part, released a statement that essentially said its hands were tied: "It became clear that Sidewalk Labs would play a more limited role in near-term discussions about a data governance framework at Quayside." With Cavoukian's resignation, she joins Saadia Muzaffar, founder of Tech Girls Canada, who stepped down earlier this month from the project's digital strategy advisory panel due to what she called a lack of transparency and public information about its data protection measures. As Muzaffar wrote in her own letter of resignation: "The most recent roundtable in August displayed a blatant disregard for resident concerns about data and digital infrastructure. Time was spent instead talking about buildings made out of wood and the width of one-way streets, things no one has contested or expressed material concern for in this entire process.” The final plan for the tech-driven district will be released next year.
As the link between the alleged killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman grows stronger, leaders in many sectors, including in media and design, are distancing themselves from projects and conferences sponsored by the regime. This includes architects and design leaders on the advisory board of NEOM, a $500 billion megacity project announced last year at an international investment conference held in Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital city. NEOM is envisioned as a "smart city" rising on 10,000 square miles of desert with a separate governance structure and ambitious energy, tech, and sustainability goals, part of a larger "Saudi Vision 2030" plan intended to help move the country away from its dependence on oil revenue. The development's website advertises the city as one that "heralds the future of human civilization by offering its inhabitants an idyllic lifestyle set against a backdrop of a community founded on modern architecture, lush green spaces, quality of life…" and so on. The project posits modern architecture as a key part of what it means to live in the future. On October 9, an official announcement named notable leaders in the field who would participate on NEOM's advisory board. They included Sir Norman Foster, Carlo Ratti of MIT's Senseable Cities Lab, IDEO president and CEO Tim Brown, Sidewalk Labs chairman and CEO Dan Doctoroff, and Travis Kalanick, former CEO of Uber. The initial list also included Jonathan Ive, Apple's chief design officer, but his name was quietly removed from the initial list of 19 names soon after it was released. The announcement came a week after the October 2nd disappearance of Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, with numerous news outlets reporting that he had most likely been killed there by Saudi agents, which the Saudi government denies. Since the initial announcement about the board, Doctoroff stated that his inclusion had been a mistake, and Brown also withdrew himself soon after. It appeared that Foster and Ratti were the few holdouts from the architecture world still left on the board. But today, Foster's office told AN: "Earlier this week Lord Foster wrote to the head of the NEOM Advisory Board stating that whilst the situation remains unclear he has suspended his activities in respect of the Board." Ratti's office offered this comment, "Both Carlo and our team are gravely concerned about the Khashoggi case. We are monitoring the situation closely as it develops hour by hour. We are waiting for the results of the U.S. investigation to evaluate the best course of action." With state department officials, major corporations, and media partners withdrawing from the conference where NEOM was announced last year and mounting global pressure to investigate what really happened to Khashoggi, it remains to be seen what impact this will have on any of the numerous deals and projects that have already been set into motion in Saudi Arabia. This not only includes massive undertakings like NEOM, but a range of built projects scheduled for completion later this year and the near future, including projects by SOM, Henning Larsen, and Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architects.
Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs has revealed their vision for a proposed “smart city” on Toronto’s waterfront in a (now) 12-acre parcel in the formerly-industrial port district of Quayside. This is the first time the company has released concrete design details on their forthcoming neighborhood, but information on how data will be collected—and how much—is still being kept under wraps. If the project is approved as is, the neighborhood could eventually be home to 3,000 residential units built entirely from mass timber. Sidewalk Labs has enlisted the help of the Katerra-owned Michael Green Architecture (MGA), which is no stranger to working with timber, to design the large mixed-use Quayside buildings. At the base of all of the proposed buildings would be “stoas," open-air retail and communal gathering spaces with adjustable protection from the elements. If built, the three-million-square-foot development would be the largest timber project in the world. All of this was revealed during a briefing yesterday ahead of the latest round of public input. Sidewalk Labs released a suite of new details during the public roundtable, including their plans for activating the streets, integrating the adjacent waterway, and doubling the amount of time residents can enjoy outdoors. While the open nature of the modular stoas is meant to encourage pedestrian mingling at ground level, MGA has also designed a series of collapsible, umbrella-like structures to block out wind, rain, and snow. The expandable canopies, when combined with heated streets that melt snow, will supposedly mitigate some of the more unpleasant weather during the winter. Sidewalk Labs is also testing a modular paving system that can be embedded with sensors and rearranged depending on how the street is being used. The team is designing a new multimodal street grid for the neighborhood that prioritizes public transportation, biking, and walking, and that narrows the allotment for cars in anticipation of autonomous vehicles. Of course, Sidewalk Labs’ attempt to create a ground-up, fully-developed smart city is still in the planning phases and faces several hurdles. While tall timber construction was recently permitted in Oregon, Toronto still caps mass timber buildings at six stories; Sidewalk Labs reportedly wants to build as tall as 50 stories in Quayside. As previously mentioned, the company has also been tight-lipped on the type and quantity of data their neighborhood will collect, and it remains to be seen if the proposed technology will be mature enough to support a robust, interconnected infrastructure for 3,000 residents. We’ll find out more as we get closer to the project’s spring groundbreaking date.
On Tuesday, Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto signed a deal that pared down some of the business's plans to design a smart city on the Canadian city's lakeshore. Sidewalk Labs, a New York-based urban innovation startup founded by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, was selected last year to work with Waterfront Toronto, a government-backed corporation, to reimagine underdeveloped parcels on the city’s eastern edge. The proposal, Sidewalk Toronto, envisioned 800 acres of waterfront as a test hub for new urban technologies. Since the announcement, details about the project have been slow to emerge, but last week a 58-page agreement between Sidewalk and Waterfront Toronto revealed a narrower scope for the tech company than originally imagine. Rather than having influence over the entirety of the city's waterfront, Sidewalk Labs has been given a more stringent site plan and governance with just 12 acres of land available for its new high-tech neighborhood at Quayside. The site sits south of Toronto’s downtown at Parliament Slip, a long-underutilized port and empty space adjacent to the city’s elevated highway. While many of the design details have been kept under wraps since Sidewalk Labs was chosen for the project last fall, we do know that it aims to combine a new mobility system for transportation, sustainable and flexible buildings, data integration, and digital infrastructure. In the initial description and renderings, Quayside features “futuristic city” tech innovations such as sensors that can detect pedestrians at traffic lights, robot vehicles that can transport garbage via underground tunnels, and a transformative street layout fit for shared self-driving cars. According to the new documents, the city of Toronto doesn’t plan to give over any other waterfront lands except the Quayside parcel to the Sidewalk Labs project, although Waterfront Toronto officials say that expanding later on to neighboring sites is still a possibility. It was also made clear that Sidewalk Labs will have zero equity in the project, though the group initially invested US$50 million on public consultations and pre-design and -development work. That money could be recovered in their share of the profits should the final plans be approved. To move forward, the designs must go through a series of public roundtables this fall and eventually be looked over by the city council. While a new waterfront scheme has been in talks for years, Toronto is now pushing back on Sidewalk Labs’ design largely, it seems, because the grand vision for the project isn’t all that clear. Many critics have noted the original framework for the proposal was thin on details, especially regarding how Sidewalk Labs would collect and use Torontonians’ data and ensure privacy. In the new agreement, a set of protections and promises are listed but there are no specifics on how the partners would enact those are laid out yet. According to The Globe and Mail, one of Waterfront Toronto’s board members, developer Julie Di Lorenzo who was outspoken in her opposition to Sidewalk Labs’ plan, stepped down from her seat recently because she was “uncomfortable with the nature of the agreement.” In early July, the corporation’s CEO Will Fleissig also suddenly resigned from his position. Tuesday’s deal was signed unanimously with neither formerly involved parties present. The explosion of excitement surrounding smart cities has lessened in recent months, in part due to concerns over how data would safely be distributed across a city-wide digital infrastructure. Not only that, but the question remains unanswered as to whether or not technology is ready for built-from-scratch cities to pop up overnight. Early promises like the self-driving car have yet to find their footing. Waterfront Toronto plans to break ground on the project as early as next spring if all approvals go through. Since this is Sidewalk Lab’s first chance to reinvent the smart city, if it doesn’t work out there, they’ll have to find another town to take them on.
Smart Cities New York (SCNY) is North America’s leading global conference exploring the emerging influence of cities in shaping the future. With the global smart city market expected to grow to $1.6 trillion within the next three years, Smart Cities New York is guided by the idea that smart cities are truly "Powered by People". The conference brings together thought leaders from public and private sectors, academia and NGOs to discuss investments in physical and digital infrastructure, health, education, sustainability, security, mobility, workforce development, and more, to ensure cities are central to advancing and improving urban life in the 21st century and beyond.