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Future

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
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JOURNALISTIC EXCELLENCE·TRANSLATED INTELLIGENCE
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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

THE NEW GERMAN AUTOBAHN

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 Tagespiegelreports (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.

VERBATIM

“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.

SMART PEOPLE

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.

SECURITY VS. PRIVACY

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 Tribunereports (French).

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Migrant Lives

What's Driving More Venezuelans To Migrate To The U.S.

With dimmed hopes of a transition from the economic crisis and repressive regime of Nicolas Maduro, many Venezuelans increasingly see the United States, rather than Latin America, as the place to rebuild a life..

Photo of a family of Migrants from Venezuela crossing the Rio Grande between Mexico and the U.S. to surrender to the border patrol with the intention of requesting humanitarian asylum​

Migrants from Venezuela crossed the Rio Grande between Mexico and the U.S. to surrender to the border patrol with the intention of requesting humanitarian asylum.

Julio Borges

-Analysis-

Migration has too many elements to count. Beyond the matter of leaving your homeland, the process creates a gaping emptiness inside the migrant — and outside, in their lives. If forced upon someone, it can cause psychological and anthropological harm, as it involves the destruction of roots. That's in fact the case of millions of Venezuelans who have left their country without plans for the future or pleasurable intentions.

Their experience is comparable to paddling desperately in shark-infested waters. As many Mexicans will concur, it is one thing to take a plane, and another to pay a coyote to smuggle you to some place 'safe.'

Venezuela's mass emigration of recent years has evolved in time. Initially, it was the middle and upper classes and especially their youth, migrating to escape the socialist regime's socio-political and economic policies. Evidently, they sought countries with better work, study and business opportunities like the United States, Panama or Spain. The process intensified after 2017 when the regime's erosion of democratic structures and unrelenting economic vandalism were harming all Venezuelans.

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