Smart Cities International: Autobahn 2.0, Dakar Hub, Speeding Songs

Here is a preview of our exclusive newsletter to keep up-to-date and stay inspired by Smart City innovations from around the world.

In Dakar, Senegal
In Dakar, Senegal
Emily Liedel






As we read about machine intelligence, driverless cars and increasing workplace automation, it’s hard not to wonder whether there's any room left for a personal touch in our high-tech world. In the wake of tragedies stemming from human error (or malicious intent), one can lean toward the argument that we would be better off if machines handled sensitive operations like controlling an airplane or car.

But where to draw the line in the human vs. machine continuum depends on many factors, including cultural differences. This week, in addition to other smart city news, we’ll look at how Berlin is embracing driverless cars, even as Amsterdam is looking for more human input on how to best use its high-tech sensors.

— Emily Liedel


Germany has long been known as a country that loves its cars, at any speed. Now Berlin wants to be known as the city that loves its self-driving cars, Der Tagespiegel reports (German). There is already a self-driving car “trial area" on a part of the autobahn that connects Berlin to Munich, and the head of Economy, Technology and Research in Berlin’s senate recently said that Berlin aims to be the “city of reference” worldwide for self-driving vehicles.


“For me, a city is smart if it can solve the basic problems for the people who live in the city, if it can guarantee sustainable human development,” José Blandón Figueroa, the mayor of Panama City, was quoted as saying in Estrategia y Negocios (Spanish), about his city’s recent contract with Cisco to develop "smart city" infrastructure.


In Amsterdam, the Waag Society is working on making citizens — not just cities — smarter. The group is opening a Smart Citizens Lab to invite people to share their concerns about the city, beginning with traditional complaints about noise or stenches from the canals, Futurezone reports (German). It’s not all low-tech, though: After listening to concerns, the group will then determine how sensors can be used to both identify and help solve the problem, and then to evaluate whether or not the solutions are effective. The Waag Society plans on measuring things like noise, air quality, CO2, humidity, dust and water quality, but also aims to fine-tune the city's policies based on the concerns voiced by residents.


Many conversations about smart cities revolve around the Holy Grail for app developers: open data. But many specialists shy away from discussing how secure the data is, and how well private, individual data is protected in the race for more information — a concern shared by cities around the world. In an upcoming conference on digital security in Tel Aviv, French and Israeli officials, businesspeople and experts are hoping to figure out how to best strike that balance between entrepreneurial accessibility and privacy for citizens, La Tribune reports (French).

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File:Parsin Gas and CNG Station in Karaj-Qazvin Freeway, Iran ...

Gas stations in many Iranian cities had trouble supplying fuel earlier in the week in what was a suspected cyberattack on the fuel distribution system. One Tehran daily on Thursday blamed Israel, which may have carried out similar acts in past years, to weaken Iran's hostile regime.

The incident reportedly disrupted the credit and debit card payments system this time, forcing users to pay cash and higher prices, the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported.

Though state officials didn't publicly accuse anyone specific, they did say perhaps this and other attacks had been planned for October, to "anger people" on the anniversary of the anti-government protests of 2019.

Khamenei, where's our gas?

Cheeky slogans were spotted Tuesday in different places in Iran, including electronic panels over motorways. One of them read "Khamenei, where's our gas?"

Iran International reported that Tehran-based news agency ISNA posted, then deleted, a report on drivers also seeing the message "cyberattack 64411" on screens at gas stations, purported to be the telephone number of the office of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A member of parliament's National Security Committee, Vahid Jalalzadeh, said the attack had been planned months ahead, and had inflicted "grave losses," Iran International and domestic agencies reported Thursday. The conservative Tehran newspaper Kayhan named "America, the Zionist regime and their goons" as the "chief suspects" in the attack.

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