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Smarter Cities

Smart Cities International: Bogota Blooms, E-Deliveries, LGBT Signs

Here is a preview of our exclusive newsletter to keep up-to-date and stay inspired by Smart City innovations from around the world.
Follow us: @worldcrunch on Twitter | Worldcrunch on Facebook

In Santander, Spain
In Santander, Spain
Emily Liedel

You know that friend or coworker with the very latest smartphone who winds up only using it ... to make telephone calls? Just because technology grows more advanced does not mean that the end users will make full use of its potential. Experts in smart cities — especially in Europe — stay busy reminding the public that our cities can never be smarter than the citizens who live in them.

This month, in addition to other smart city news, we'll look at a city beautification project in Tanzania that went awry because too many citizens weren't educated about basic tenets of environmental protection. Along the way we'll also look at water issues in Uruguay and Kenya and see how a German company is trying to make deliveries to grocery stores more sustainable.

— Emily Liedel


In a new section of Munich, developers want to build several 13-floor apartment high-rises against the wishes of those who already live in the neighborhood. In several meetings, the area's residents have said they don't want any buildings over eight stories, Süddeutsche Zeitung daily reports (German). The controversy is making Munich officials rethink exactly how much citizen involvement is best for the city to both move forward and keep current residents happy. Or to twist around an old saying: "Democracy isn't always smart, but it's the least stupid of all the other systems."


As demand for water has risen constantly over the past several years, the Nairobi Water Company has struggled to meet needs. But as part of a partnership with the Shanghai-based Tongji University, the water company is going to get training and technology that should both improve the quality of Nairobi's water and reduce the amount of chemicals used in water treatment, All Africa reports.


As part of a campaign to promote tolerance, the Austrian cities of Vienna, Salzburg and Linz have installed a number of unusual crosswalk signs. Instead of the traditional walking man showing that it's time to cross the street, these crosswalks have either two men or two women holding hands as they walk. But not everyone is happy about the unique crossing signals: After an election brought a more socially conservative government, the new leadership in Linz has decided to remove the privately-funded signs from the city, Kurier reports (German).


Generally speaking, Uruguay does not lack for water. Still, the country's big cities should not take it for granted: Several recent water crises have shown that an abundance of the wet stuff does not necessarily translate to enough potable water, and in fact the drinking water supply seems to be reaching its limit in the capital of Montevideo, as well as in the coastal city of Maldonado, El Observador reports (Spanish) . The problem is likely due to agricultural chemicals running off into rivers, which has contributed to algae blooms that render the water unsafe for human consumption. It is a reminder that cities must rely on natural resources that may be sourced far away.


A campaign to clean up the streets of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for the national independence day was largely successful, but with one hitch: While participation was high, many residents of the nation's capital chose to get rid of the garbage on the streets by burning it — including tires and plastic, The Citizen reports. The smoldering garbage wound up covering certain neighborhoods in toxic smoke and rancid odors. The unintended consequences of the clean-up campaign highlight the importance of education, since some residents simply didn't know that burning the garbage was bad for the city.

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Violence Against Women, The Patriarchy And Responsibility Of The Good Men Too

The femicide of Giulia Cecchettin has shaken Italy, and beyond. Argentine journalist Ignacio Pereyra looks at what lies behind femicides and why all men must take more responsibility.

A protester's sign referring to the alleged killer reads: Filippo isn't a monster, he's the healthy son of the patriarchy

Matteo Nardone/Pacific Press via ZUMA Press
Ignacio Pereyra

Updated Dec. 3, 2023 at 10:40 p.m.


ATHENS — Are you going to write about what happened in Italy?, Irene, my partner, asks me. I have no idea what she's talking about. She tells me: a case of femicide has shaken the country and has been causing a stir for two weeks.

As if the fact in itself were not enough, I ask what is different about this murder compared to the other 105 women murdered this year in Italy (or those that happen every day around the world).

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here .

We are talking about a country where the expression "fai l'uomo" (be a man) abounds, with a society so prone to drama and tragedy and so fond of crime stories as few others, where the expression "crime of passion" is still mistakenly overused.

In this context, the sister of the victim reacted in an unexpected way for a country where femicide is not a crime recognized in the penal code, contrary to what happens, for example, in almost all of Latin America.

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