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Smarter Cities

Smart Cities International: Dubai Robocops, Montreal Snow, Valencia Water

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 Montreal, Canada
In Montreal, Canada
Emily Liedel

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JOURNALISTIC EXCELLENCE·TRANSLATED INTELLIGENCE
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For cities around the world, the question of how to manage utilities is complex and often controversial. Should water, electricity and gas be publicly owned? If they are privatized, how can we ensure that everyone is served, when the companies overseeing services aim to turn profits? Utilities are the invisible infrastructure that make modern living possible, yet they are often overlooked precisely because they seem to be such a basic part of the modern city.


Most smart city programs — like the one that we’ll look at this week in Spain — focus on reducing the amount of water or electricity that the city consumes. As cities continue to grow, however, some resources, especially but not exclusively in the developing world, struggle to keep up with skyrocketing demand. This week we’ll also look at how the capital of Gabon is doing its best to meet its residents' water needs as the city gets bigger and bigger.


— Emily Liedel

SMART CITIZENS LAB

Vienna’s Smart Citizens lab, which opened last weekend, is giving citizens a physical place to learn more about the city’s smart initiatives, Futurezone reports (German). The goal is to highlight community projects, repair cafés and communal living arrangements. The organizers also have a specifically non-commercial goal: to increase participation and social interaction — not just the use of new technologies.

VERBATIM

“We’ve discovered that most of Bogota’s problems could be solved through better coordination between the different actors in the city, such as the municipal and national authorities and the municipalities surrounding the city,” Luis Guillermo Plata said in an interview with El Espectador(Spanish). Plata is the director of ProBogotá, an initiative started by 30 companies in the Colombian capital to encourage the city to get better in terms of mobility, security, employment, education and urban development.

ROBOCOPS IN DUBAI

In an effort to improve police services without hiring more people, law enforcement in Dubai will be integrating “highly intelligent robots” into the police force, Dinero en Imagen reports (Spanish). The robots will be able to speak six languages, and will interact with residents and tourists through an intelligent screen and a microphone that is connected to the police service telephone line. And if this isn’t futuristic enough, in a few more years the police hope to offer robots capable of answering questions without any human assistance.

MANILA-VIENNA COLLABORATION

Students from a Vienna university are in Manila to conduct a manual survey of street lights in one of the city’s slums. They are building a database that registers which lights work and which don’t, to serve as the basis for a larger project to improve the lighting and electricity in the slum, Der Standard reports (German). The advisor who spearheads the program considers the work a model for bringing intelligent planning to developing countries.

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Society

The First Victims Of Sri Lanka's Economic Crisis: Pregnant Women

The country's worst economic crisis in decades has toppled the government and led to soaring prices. Pregnant women struggle to access essential supplies.

Kirushna Sutharshan separates a basket of wild greens she has gathered forher family’s lunch.

Vijayatharsiny Thinesh

INUVIL, SRI LANKA — At sunset, as her young son plays nearby and her husband has yet to return from work, Kirushna Sutharshan forages for edible plants near her home.

She bends carefully over her expanding belly — her second child is due in August — but ignores the discomfort. The prices of milk, eggs, spinach and other foods recommended for healthy pregnancies have tripled since January; the once-free iron supplements are no longer available at prenatal checkups at public hospitals; and she cannot afford vitamins at private pharmacies. Even Thriposha, a corn-based nutritional supplement usually distributed to pregnant women for free, is no longer available.

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