Smart cities market value to hit $2 trillion by 2025, says Frost & Sullivan

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The overall market value for smart cities will surpass $ 2 trillion by 2025, according to Frost & Sullivan – with artificial intelligence (AI) at the heart of it.

The analyst firm believes AI, alongside personalised healthcare, robotics, advanced driver assistance systems and distributed energy generation will be among the cornerstone technologies of future smart cities.

With more than 80% of the population in developed countries expected to live in cities by 2050, now is the time to act. According to a study from Counterpoint Research, which this publication examined earlier this week, there will be more than 125 million connected vehicles shipped by 2022.

The convergence of technologies – such as smart cars integrating with smart traffic lights – will be an important factor, but getting citizens engaged will also be key. Last month, Gartner put together a series of recommendations for local government CIOs in Asia, citing the importance of discussions between the government and its citizens. According to Frost & Sullivan, more than half of smart cities will be in China, generating $ 320 billion for its economy by 2025.

Europe will have the largest number of smart city project investments globally, according to the research, while the total North America smart buildings market – comprising smart sensors, systems, hardware and software – will surpass $ 5bn by 2020. The analysis also noted the rising importance in Latin America, citing Mexico City, Santiago, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janairo as active cities in this area. Smart city projects in Brazil will drive almost 20% of the country’s IoT revenue by 2021.

“Currently most smart city models provide solutions in silos and are not interconnected. The future is moving toward integrated solutions that connect all verticals within a single platform,” said Vijay Narayanan, senior research analyst at Frost & Sullivan in a statement. “IoT is already paving the way to allow for such solutions.”

You can find out more about Frost & Sullivan’s smart cities studies here.

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Hulu live TV brings CW broadcasts to select cities

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You've been able to watch CW shows like Jane The Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Supergirl, Arrow and The Flash on-demand via Hulu for a while now. Last year, the streaming company promised to bring the CW network to its live TV service, but it's taken…
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Clean Air Is Now a Status Symbol in the World’s Most Polluted Cities

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The Cordis hotel in Shanghai boasts proximity to railways and the airport, a beautiful pool, and double-filtered air. Indeed, air quality seems to be a selling point for this luxury hotel — each of its 396 rooms is equipped with a pollution monitor, The Guardian reports.

Breathing clean air is the new cool in super-polluted cities such as Shanghai, Beijing or Delhi. And it’s just another way that the rich can afford to distinguish themselves from the poor, who are forced to constantly choke on sickening, polluted air.

In 2014, the WHO quantified the effects of toxic air. It is, in short, thought to cause around 7 million premature deaths per year and is responsible for an array of medical conditions including lung cancer and heart attacks.

Governments have tried to downplay the issue. But Asia’s megacities, the pollution crisis became too severe to ignore — the Chinese government was forced to take action or risk undermining its popularity among families worried for their children’s health.

Putting a literal price on clean air might not have been part of the plan, but it seems to be a natural result; the private sector has jumped on the opportunity to make a profit in the face of crisis. From expensive schools in Delhi, attended by the children of the local elite or of rich expats, to luxury hotels like the Cordis, those who can afford it are making clean air a commodity.

“I think back to the days when everyone used to charge for the internet,”  John O’Shea, managing director of the Cordis, told The Guardian. “Now the internet’s like hot water – if you don’t have high speed, fast, easy-access internet for free, then it’s over. The indoor air quality is going to be like that too – if you can’t guarantee your customers much better air quality than the competitors, it’s going to be a fait accompli. It’s already getting that kind of importance.”

In many parts of the world, wealth equals health (or, at least, gives you much more access to it). Prohibitive healthcare costs mean that, if you’re not wealthy, treating your diabetes or cancer may not be an option.

The pollution divide, too, may soon become the new normal.

Countries will undoubtedly continue efforts to clean up their air, but this will likely happen slowly. In the meantime, people who can’t afford to breathe better air will keep suffering from asthma, lung cancer and heart conditions.

The post Clean Air Is Now a Status Symbol in the World’s Most Polluted Cities appeared first on Futurism.

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Drivers May Soon Have to Pay to Drive in Traffic-Choked Manhattan. Other Cities May Be Next.

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Honking. Pollution. Stunted economic growth.

Traffic sucks. It hinders every major metropolitan center worldwide. Now New York City, the planet’s second-most-congested city, might have a solution. If they do it right, it might catch on.

The idea is simple: congestion pricing. Want to drive in a busy part of the city? Pay a fee.

This is a win-win. It would discourage tight-fisted drivers from going there  or maybe from driving at all — which would reduce emissions. For drivers that do pay, the city can spend the money it collects on projects that reduce congestion. In New York, for example, that would mean using the funds to improve the city’s subway and bus systems, which, let me tell you, are in dire need of a cash injection.

There are a few cities worldwide that already have congestion pricing systems in place. But it hasn’t caught on yet in the U.S., in part because it’s not all that appealing to the average voter.

“It is almost universally acknowledged among transportation planners that congestion pricing is the best way, and perhaps the only way, to significantly reduce urban traffic congestion,” wrote a team of urban planners from UCLA in a 2016 issue of Access Magazine. “Politically, however, congestion pricing has always been a tough sell. Most drivers don’t want to pay for roads that are currently free, and most elected officials—aware that drivers are voters—don’t support congestion pricing.”

In NYC, the idea has been around for more than a decade. In 2007, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed the idea of congestion pricing in New York. His proposal never made it past the state assembly. Last summer, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo revisited the concept, telling The New York Times it was “an idea whose time has come.”

In October 2017, Cuomo assembled a state task force, Fix NYC, to draft a proposal on how congestion pricing would best work in New York. In that proposal, the group suggested charging vehicles a set price to enter busy areas of Manhattan depending on the vehicle’s size and intended use: $ 11.52 for passenger cars, $ 25.34 for trucks, and $ 2 to $ 5 per ride for taxis and for-hire vehicles.

According to the Fix NYC proposal, the city could implement the fee for taxis and for-hire vehicles within a year, with truck and car fees following in 2020.

Fix NYC delivered the proposal to state lawmakers in January. Those lawmakers are currently working to deliver the state’s new budget by April 1, and they could decide to include congestion pricing within it.

congestion pricing
Image Credit: Assy / Pixabay

If it doesn’t happen in NYC, other cities in the U.S. may give congestion pricing a go. Portland, Oregon, is also exploring congestion pricing, and a group in Los Angeles is promoting the idea as well (San Francisco tried, and failed, to pass its own congestion pricing system in 2010).

If New York does decide to take a chance on congestion pricing, it could start a domino effect across the nation.

It seems as though the biggest hurdle will be simply implementing the system. That’s at least what happened in Stockholm. “The closer you get to implementation, the more the drawbacks stand out,” Stockhold transportation director Jonas Eliasson told StreetBlog NYC. “If you survive this valley of political death, and people actually see the benefits, and also realize that, in addition to the benefits, it’s actually not as bad as you thought — it’s not so hard adapting to this — then support starts going up again.”

His advice to New York? Just do it.

 

The post Drivers May Soon Have to Pay to Drive in Traffic-Choked Manhattan. Other Cities May Be Next. appeared first on Futurism.

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Can smart cities really save us all 125 hours per year?

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Smart cities, and the components which comprise them, will save us all time – and a new study puts the total at 125 hours per citizen per year.

The study, put together by Intel alongside Juniper Research, found that 125 hours, or 15 working days, will be claimed in four buckets. Mobility, such as smart traffic systems, smart parking, and ‘open data platforms’ – so users can pick the least congested bus and train services – will account for 60 hours. Greater public safety – predicting crime spots through machine learning – will account for 35, while healthcare comprises nine and productivity – digital services simplifying administrative processes – will account for 21.

What could inhabitants of smart cities do with all that free time, the report asks? They could take a long holiday, get active, or spend it with family and friends. What’s more, wounds will heal quicker – if you’re not stressed, the body can recover more easily – you’re less likely to get depressed, and you’re likelier to earn more money.

According to the analysis, Singapore is the city to beat across all areas of mobility, health, safety and productivity. London, New York, Chicago and Seoul were also well placed.

“Analysts tend to focus on the technical underpinnings of building a data-centric world,” said Windows Holden, head of forecasting and consultancy at Juniper Research. “We can’t overlook the importance of the real human benefits that smart cities have. Connected communities, municipal services and processes have a powerful impact on a citizen’s quality of life.”

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Yet the outcome will be much more complicated than this utopian vision.

Benedict Evans, partner at Andreessen Horowitz, has made a very key point on this aspect in various blog posts: with a truly smart city, the entire rules of traffic can be changed, never mind how cars will be developed. What about parking? What about cycling? What about new cities which could be built in ways which will seem alien to us today?

Tom Rebbeck, research director for enterprise and IoT at Analysys Mason, says that while looking at smart cities in terms of time saved is an interesting angle – and that indeed the opportunities outlined by the report are broadly in line with his views – but the number crunching doesn’t take into account all areas.

“The figure seems to be based on some bold assumptions,” Rebbeck tells IoT News in an email. “For example, it suggests that open data will help reduce commuting times by 15% by ‘highlighting optimum routes’.

“Possibly this holds for some car-centric US cities – even there it seems like a stretch,” adds Rebbeck. “It is hard to see how that would apply to somewhere like London where only around half of people work, and where only around a third of workers commute by car.”

There is one other issue which the report doesn’t go into: how much time this process will take. Rebbeck notes that there is no way of measuring whether the predictions are correct, adding: “I’d guess they will never happen, but there is no way of testing this either way.”

You can read the full Intel report here.

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To Slow Urbanization, China Is Capping Populations In Two Of Its Biggest Cities

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Beijing, like many of the planet’s largest cities, can seem like a dystopian hellscape. The city sprawls to accommodate its 21 million people or so. Buildings are erected and knocked down in the span of a few months, the product of unchecked economic development. Pollution chokes the air, rendering it smoggy as it drifts between the skyscrapers.

Recently, the Chinese government decided that these problems are the product of overpopulation. So the country has decided to put a cap on population in two of its biggest cities, Beijing and Shanghai, in an effort to contain the number of residents to 23 and 25 million respectively, by 2035.

The logic is sound. Fewer people mean less air pollution, greater access to medical services and public transportation. Overall, people will be happier and healthier if there are fewer of them.

 

As part of the plan, China Daily reports, the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress is working on meteorological disaster prevention, building affordable houses and encouraging the use of non-motorized vehicles.

In reality, though, rural migrants that move to the city looking for higher wages and a better lives are the ones that suffer. Authorities have cracked down on illegal housing, unregistered shops, and street vendors and shops has already driven tens of thousands of domestic migrants out of Beijing, stripping some of the most popular neighborhoods of their history and culture. Choking red tape restricts access to schools for the children of migrants, who must present a special ID, called hukou, tied to their parents birthplace. According to Chu Zhaohui, research fellow at the Chinese National Institute of Education Sciences, who spoke with the Toronto Star, the so-called “Five Documents System” leaves 30 percent of migrant students, or children of migrants, out of Beijing’s public schools.

It’s already working. According to The Guardian, Beijing’s population dropped by 20,000 between 2016 and 2017. Shanghai’s population was also down by 10,000.

Families are forced to split up. Children are brought back to rural areas where they can access schools, while the parents keep working in the big city where the wages are higher. And as the new measures push the poor away, cities become increasingly inhospitable for the low-income workers that remain.

“This urban gentrification is not a good thing for the city,” Yan Song, director of the University of North Carolina’s program on Chinese cities, told The Guardian. “The demand and the need for the lower end of services will still exist, but those people will just live further and further away from the city centre, and have to spend longer getting to work.”

Reducing congestion in the world’s biggest cities is an important goal, especially because urbanization is poised to become unmanageable in many parts of the world. But keeping poor people out isn’t the way to do it. Inequality doesn’t bring growth — it exacerbates instability. Engineering an unequal society may help solve a short term problem, but it will likely create a much bigger one down the line.

The post To Slow Urbanization, China Is Capping Populations In Two Of Its Biggest Cities appeared first on Futurism.

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Pedestrian killed by Uber self-driving car, testing stops in all cities

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Safety driver was behind the wheel of car, which was in self-driving mode, in Arizona tragedy, and the company has now halted all testing of the technology.
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Cities’ “Smart” Led Streetlights May Be Secretly Watching Over You

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Streetlights are designed to make urban life easier, but also safer. Illuminating your walk home or run through the park, streetlights are comforting, whether or not they actually deter crime. State of the art LED lamps that are progressively replacing older, glitchy models in a number of American cities may be a welcome development as they improve the network’s energy efficiency.

However, the spread of a new generation of streetlights may also have other, less likable consequences  – including an increase in stealthy electronic surveillance.

The LED lights peppering the streets of like Baltimore, San Diego, Kansas City among many others aren’t designed for surveillance. But the ways in which they are positioned and wired make them an ideal target for attaching cameras, microphones, and other such devices. This isn’t just a risk, either — hidden cameras have been found in these lighting fixtures before.

Are streetlights watching you? Image Credit: jwvein / pixabay
Are streetlights watching you? Image Credit: jwvein / pixabay

LED lights first came to Newark Liberty International Airport and U.S. malls in 2014. Soon after, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and community members found out that hidden cameras had been installed in many of these lights. Some of these fixtures were even equipped with microphones.

Chad Marlow, of the ACLU’s advocacy and policy council, voiced his concerns to City Lab: “I think rather than call them smart bulbs in smart cities I’d call them surveillance bulbs in surveillance cities. That’s more accurate.”

In many cities across the U.S., it is legal to install these surveillance devices in lights without even alerting residents. The city of Portland is adopting 6,100 new LED streetlights in an effort to be more energy efficient and environmentally conscious. However, while the local administration assures that it’s not going to put cameras in the lights yet, that could legally happen at any time without the residents being made aware.

Surveillance cameras inside stores or high-risk buildings and areas are nothing new. But usually, we can see these cameras and we are very much aware of where they are. While cities might just need that extra level of surveillance in areas with higher crime rates, the measures will be inevitably seen also as an invasion of privacy. Additionally, while public bodies might be the ones in charge of installing and operating cameras, that may change should the new, dense surveillance network be hacked or outfitted with non-official equipment.

The post Cities’ “Smart” Led Streetlights May Be Secretly Watching Over You appeared first on Futurism.

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Karlie Kloss’ coding camp covers more cities and languages this year

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Kode with Klossy, Karlie Kloss' coding camp for girls, is expanding this year. Last year, the program offered 15 camps in 12 cities, but this summer, it's running 50 camps in 25 cities and will teach 1,000 young women between the ages of 13 and 18 ab…
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Google Maps adds wheelchair-accessible routes to public transit navigation, starting with six major cities

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Subways and buses may be convenient for most of us, but that’s often a different story for individuals who can’t get around as easily due to mobility needs. In an attempt to make public transit more accessible for that portion of the population, Google is introducing new “wheelchair accessible” routes in Maps’ transit navigation, starting with six major cities.

Wheelchair-accessible routes depend on whether a station has accessible stops, platforms, entrances, and exits.

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Google Maps adds wheelchair-accessible routes to public transit navigation, starting with six major cities was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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