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Smarter Cities

Smart Cities International: Delhi's Water ATMs, Anti-Noise Gardens, Bogota's Mobile Schools

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

Valencia, Spain, has just launched a digital platform to make city data available to all
Valencia, Spain, has just launched a digital platform to make city data available to all
Emily Liedel

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Hello city folk!

No one wants to live in a concrete jungle. Even those of us who are die-hard urbanites prefer an urban environment that is dotted with greenery — whether it is parking-strip gardens, tree-lined streets, parks or nature reserves. Being among nature calms us, purifies the air and, in the case of trees planted between sidewalks and roads, can even help prevent deadly accidents.

So it’s no surprise that creating and preserving more greenery is a priority for any city that prides itself on livability. This week, in addition to other smart city news, we’re looking at how Dakar is giving extra attention to its green spaces and how a Swedish study found other, less-expected benefits to mixing urban environments with some rural touches.

— Emily Liedel
The Indian water company Sarvajal has developed a water-dispensing system that can provide clean drinking water virtually anywhere, as its machines are solar-powered and cloud-connected. The "water ATMs" were originally designed to bring clean drinking water to remote rural areas, but the company started a pilot project in the city of Delhi last fall, SciDev.Net reports. The company was given license to set up a dispenser where the city’s water infrastructure hadn’t been built, which includes many of informal settlements and unregulated encampments. There are already 24 machines located around the city, and the pilot project is expected to run for two years before the city decides on the best way to integrate these water ATMs into the existing water system.
For many designers, building a vertical garden on a building’s exterior is often an aesthetic, impractical choice. But there are very down-to-earth reasons to build such gardens. A Swedish study, funded by the European Union, found that the "green walls" substantially reduce the outside noise that makes its way inside, replacing unpleasant traffic sounds with the sounds of leaves rustling. The greenery also provides thermal insulation, cooling the building’s interior without air conditioning.
After an 18-month struggle by civil society, environmental activists and employees at the Lagos Water Corporation, the Nigerian city's public utility has stopped negotiations with the World Bank to privatize its water supply, the Premium Times reports. In fact, the utility now claims that it never planned to privatize water at all, but civil servants who work at the agency insist that it did and were most vocal in their opposition to the plan. According to privatization critics, the plan would have led to skyrocketing prices, making water unaffordable for many of the city’s residents, similar to what happened when Lagos’ electricity was privatized.

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Is Disney's "Wish" Spreading A Subtle Anti-Christian Message To Kids?

Disney's new movie "Wish" is being touted as a new children's blockbuster to celebrate the company's 100th anniversary. But some Christians may see the portrayal of the villain as God-like and turning wishes into prayers as the ultimate denial of the true message of Christmas.

photo of a kid running out of a church

For the Christmas holiday season?

Joseph Holmes

Christians have always had a love-hate relationship with Disney since I can remember. Growing up in the Christian culture of the 1990s and early 2000s, all the Christian parents I knew loved watching Disney movies with their kids – but have always had an uncomfortable relationship with some of its messages. It was due to the constant Disney tropes of “follow your heart philosophy” and “junior knows best” disdain for authority figures like parents that angered so many. Even so, most Christians felt the benefits had outweighed the costs.

That all seems to have changed as of late, with Disney being hit more and more by claims from conservatives (including Christian conservatives) that Disney is pushing more and more radical progressive social agendas, This has coincided with a steep drop at the box office for Disney.

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