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Smarter Cities

Smart Cities International: Hornet Traffic, Smart Deliveries, Tracking Trash

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

La Paz's aerial cable cars
La Paz's aerial cable cars
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Hello City Folk!

Those of us who don’t own brick-and-mortar businesses often overlook an essential part of urban economic life: deliveries. Human beings move in any number of ways: on public transit, bicycles, cars, their own two feet. It’s no big deal for most shop customers to walk an extra 100 feet if there's not a parking spot in front of their destination. But getting hundreds of pounds of merchandise to their destinations can add precious time and expense for the people responsible for delivering it.

There are better ways to accomplish deliveries. This week, in addition to other smart city news, we’ll look at how two German companies are collaborating to make delivery vehicles smarter and greener.

— Emily Liedel
Researchers at the University of Malaga are studying the movements of hornets and bird flocks — both of which navigate in large groups without slowing down or colliding with each other — in order to develop better traffic systems that will reduce congestion and accidents, Cadena SER reports (Spanish). The hornet-based system combines smart software that will optimize streetlights as well as a mobile app that gives drivers a personalized route to get them to their destination as quickly as possible, taking current traffic conditions into account. The project’s director says the system will reduce traffic jams and the cut the average trip down by 15%, all without requiring major modifications to the city itself. The system should be ready for implementation by the end of the year. In addition to Malaga, the city of Prague has already signed a contract to implement the hornet-inspired traffic control.
“We need to be more sensitive to the way that communities want to live together. Favelas and other slums are often seen as motors of economic growth, as they are in Nairobi or Mumbai. It is a matter of showing respect to people and recognizing that self-organization can have very positive results,” Sir David King, the British Special Representative for Climate Change and head of Future Cities Catapult, said in an interview with the BBC Brazil (Portuguese). King argues that slums and medieval cities have a lot to teach modern designers, because they are designed from the bottom up, not top-down, and residents can walk everywhere.
The winners of the most recent “Smart City Hackathon” in Kazan, Russia, already have a marketable idea that is attracting attention from municipal authorities in Russia and beyond. The team’s smart garbage bins and GPS system allows garbage collectors to track which bins are full, and gives dispatchers the ability to send trucks out only to the bins that need to be collected, Kazan First reports (Russian). The system can also tell which bins tend to fill up — or overflow — allowing the city to add more bins as necessary. The smart bins would both keep the city cleaner and would make garbage collection more efficient and profitable for the companies who collect the trash.
Already considered a model of Smart City technology in Europe, Santander, Spain is expanding its “Smart Water” pilot project. The expanding system is made up of network of intelligent sensors that monitor the purification system, water pressure and water quality, El Diario Montañés reports. Users can access all of that information in real time, as well as visualize their own water consumption. Santander is hoping that the Smart Water expansion will both encourage more residents to reduce their water consumption and give the city more data about how water is used according to different types of buildings.

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New Study Finds High Levels Of Anti-LGBTQ+ Discrimination In Buddhism

We tend to think of Buddhism as a religion devoid of commandments, and therefore generally more accepting than others. The author, an Australian researcher — and "genderqueer, non-binary Buddhist" themself — suggests that it is far from being the case.

Photo of a Buddhist monk in a Cambodia temple, walking away from the camera

Some Buddhist spaces can be highly heteronormative and show lack of understanding toward the LGBTQ+ community

Stephen Kerry

More than half of Australia’s LGBTQIA+ Buddhists feel reluctant to “come out” to their Buddhist communities and nearly one in six have been told directly that being LGBTQIA+ isn’t in keeping with the Buddha’s teachings.

These are some of the findings from my research looking at the experiences of LGBTQIA+ Buddhists in Australia.

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

I’m a genderqueer, non-binary Buddhist myself and I was curious about others’ experiences in Australia since there has been no research done on our community before. So, in 2020, I surveyed 82 LGBTQIA+ Buddhists and have since followed this up with 29 face-to-face interviews.

Some people may think Buddhism would be quite accepting of LGBTQIA+ people. There are, after all, no religious laws, commandments or punishments in Buddhism. My research indicates, however, this is not always true.

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