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Guangzhou, China
Guangzhou, China
Emily Liedel
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JOURNALISTIC EXCELLENCE·TRANSLATED INTELLIGENCE
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April 16, 2015


Driverless cars seem to be ready to hit the road, but are our cities' roads ready for them? The kind of system that works well for managing the ways humans interact — whether they are inside of vehicles, on foot or on a bicycle — might not work as well when the vehicles are no longer controlled by humans.


In addition to other smart city news, this week we’re looking at how the British city of Newcastle is preparing for driverless cars. We’ll also check in with a new Kenyan mapping project that allows bus passengers to navigate the system better.


— Emily Liedel

IN VIENNA, FROM RESIDENTS TO CITIZENS

A city can only be so smart without smart citizens — at least according to a new initiative in Vienna called “Smart Citizens Lab.” The project’s website, smartcitizens.at, aims to create a platform for other initiatives, businesses, organizations and apps that are related to the everyday concerns of “Life,” “Resources,” and “Mobility,” Oekonews.at reports (German). The website helps citizens answer questions like “how can I save energy without spending more money?” or “How can I reduce my ecological footprint?”

VERBATIM

“A smart city is a city with ultra-connected citizens, who can also, if they are asked to, share their opinions and participate in this grand transformation,” Vincent Giret, a journalist with Le Mondespeaking on France Info radio said about the role of smart cities in strengthening civic action and mitigating global warming.

ALWAYS GREEN

Newcastle, England, has just installed 20 traffic lights with a sensor called Compass4D, which allows the lights to communicate with vehicles that have been equipped with a transmitter. When the vehicle approaches the light, it turns green. Right now, the city is trying out the technology in ambulances, but it could soon be used for taxis and freight trucks, The Telegraph reports. Does this mean you’ll be able to buy a "green light" switch soon? No, but the smart traffic lights are considered the first step towards driverless vehicles. In the future, cargo trucks might be outfitted with the traffic switch and allowed to drive themselves through a series of green lights through town.

PARTNER CONTENT

Carlo Ratti, director of the MIT Senseable City Lab, will be talking at June's "Smart City Event in Amsterdam" about the positive effects that the collection of Big Data can have in promoting behavioral change. He offers this example: "In our Trash Track project in Seattle, we added tags to trash and then followed trash as it moves through the city’s sanitation system. We discovered many things … and one of the things we learned in the Trash Track project is that just sharing information can promote behavioral change. People involved in the project would be able to follow their trash and this prompted many of them to change their habits. One person told us, “I used to drink water in plastic bottles and throw them away and think that they would disappear but now I know it is not true anymore. They just go a few miles from home to a landfill. So I stopped drinking water in plastic bottles.”

Read more here: Smart City Event 2015, Amsterdam

ELECTRIC DELIVERIES

A group of students and researchers in Jena, Germany have developed a simulator for an electric truck, which drivers are invited to test-drive — all without moving an inch, OstThüringer Zeitung reports (German). The "test" involves driving at as even a pace as possible, which is best for the battery, while also getting to the destination on time and delivering an ice-cream cake to the city center. Drivers have to keep an eye on the battery life, in addition to everything else on the road. Experts say battery life is the biggest challenge to overcome in bringing electric vehicles to the delivery world.


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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Ukraine Is Turning Into A "New Israel" — Where Everyone Is A Soldier

From businessmen to farmers, Ukrainian society has been militarizing for the past six months to defend its sovereignty. In the future it may find itself like Israel, permanently armed to protect its sovereignty.

Ukrainian civilians learn how to shoot and other military skills at a shooting range in Lviv on July 30, 2022.

Guillaume Ptak

KYIV — The war in Ukraine has reached a turning point. Vladimir Putin's army has suffered its worst setback since the beginning of the invasion. The Russian army has experienced a counter-offensive that many experts consider masterful, so it must retreat and cede vast territories to its opponent.

The lightning victory that the head of the Kremlin had dreamed of never took place. The losses are considerable — Ukrainian troops on the battlefield now outnumber the Russians.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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On April 5, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky predicted that at the end of the conflict, Ukraine would become a "big Israel". In an interview with Ukrainian media, he said then, "In all the institutions, supermarkets, cinemas, there will be people with weapons."

The problem of national security will be the country's most important one in the next decade. An "absolutely liberal, and European" society would therefore no longer be on the agenda, according to the Ukrainian president.

Having long since swapped his suit and tie for a jacket or a khaki T-shirt during his public appearances, Zelensky has undeniably become one of the symbols of this growing militarization of Ukrainian society. However, the president claimed that Ukraine would not become an "authoritarian" regime: "An authoritarian state would lose to Russia. Ukrainians know what they are fighting for."

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

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