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Smart Cities International: Montreal Ideas, Arab Voices, Buenos Aires Lights

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

Montreal by night
Montreal by night
Emily Liedel
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Hello City Folk!

Technological innovations do not exist in a vacuum. A city can have the most advanced transport grid or water-management system, but real intelligence begins by being engaged with local residents and providing ways for them to have a voice in the plans for the future. Or put another way: A city can't be truly "smart" if the fundamentals of democracy are missing.

This week, in addition to other smart city news, we’re looking at how cities across the Arab world are trying to develop using "smart city" technology, but are still struggling to find ways to include citizens in the process. We’ll also look at how Montreal has become one of the "smart" leaders precisely because it has focused on ways to involve citizens in the decision-making process.

— Emily Liedel

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The Argentine capital has finished changing all of its 90,000 traffic lights to LED bulbs, La Razon reports (Spanish). This seemingly simple change will reduce the city’s energy usage for traffic lights by approximately 90%, and is also expected to increase road safety.


According to a study by Gartner, smart cities will use 1.1 billion different "smart," interconnected objects by the end of 2015. Homes and commercial buildings account for 45% of that total.


With 330 million inhabitants, a 3% annual increase in population and high rates of rural exodus, the Arab world is looking at both opportunities and challenges when it comes to developing its cities. And according to a recent round table organized by the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, many Arab cities are approaching this challenge from a "smart city" standpoint, La Tribune reports (French). There are automated metro lines in Dubai, and Algiers and Casablanca have both recently opened state-of-the-art tram lines. Dubai also has a smart electricity grid, while Riyadh is taking steps to build public transportation and move away from private vehicles. Nonetheless, participants at the forum insisted that cities throughout the Arab world still need to work on one other key pillar of a truly smart city: citizen engagement and input in the development of urban spaces.


India is planning to build its first top-down smart city on the site of a former Special Economic Zone in Haryana, The Times of India reports. The site in northern India is about 800 acres and is part of a recent push to increase the number of smart cities across the country.

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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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