Listen to the Trees

A message from the trees #actonclimate

No Dumping

President Carter and the Power of the Sun

On this day in 1979 President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the White House roof. #ActOnClimate

“Smart Cities” Need Love too.

by Djuan Coleon Executive Director of PURE

During the first two weeks in June several cities all over the world were convening about how to become “Smart Cities”.  From Dubai, Vienna, Amsterdam, Melbourne to Genoa, Italy cities are mobilizing their collective efforts to create sustainability. On June 12th the University Of Alabama Birmingham (UAB), held a Sustainable Smart Cities Symposium.  UAB had a very informative and diverse array of speakers that participated. Irene Rojo de las Heras from Spain spoke about Smart Urban Planning. In Barcelona Spain, they have implemented smart parking, utilizing sensors in the road to alert drivers of vacant parking spaces throughout the city. IBM is working with Barcelona, Minneapolis and Montpellier, France to aggregate data to more efficiently manage water, mobility and emergency systems. Coupling water and emergency management, “smart cities” can allocate resources in real time to citizens during flood events and severe weather.  Then there are cities like Boston that are using mobile apps like Street Bump that monitor road conditions as users drive and “bumps” are registered and investigated as potential potholes and the city analyzes the data and makes repairs as needed.  Cisco is partnering with cities to implement “The Internet of Everything: Connecting People, Process, Data and Things”. Cisco believes a “synchronized city” will be able to leverage data to reroute traffic congestion, deal with crime hot spots and monitor air pollution in real time for the betterment of community.  All these technological innovations can make “smart cities” but in order to forge sustainable communities I believe they need love too.

 

Smart Cities need love, the love and compassion of the human element beyond the technological wizardry of the computers and machines. As we find innovative ways to implement sensors into the roads so that drivers can find vacant parking spaces, let us not forget to fix the roads in the poor communities in the same city. We also should not be so consumed with technological progress that we use technology to become callous towards citizens. In China and London, England we have seen “Anti-homeless spikes” set in places to prevent the homeless from sleeping in certain areas.

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Putting spikes where the homeless find shelter is something a robot or computer designing a city would do, not humans.  As smart cities find ways to connect food vendors with citizens utilizing the latest GPS and Wi-Fi technology let us not forget to find ways to eliminate food deserts in these same communities.  Smart Cities have to be more compassionate towards finding solutions to toxic and hazardous waste sites that disproportionately affect low income and minority areas. During severe weather events like floods we have to insure the low income areas are not left behind as cities are efficiency able to allocate resources during emergencies. The inadequate real time response during Hurricane Katrina should not happen again. I believe in order for Smart Cities to be truly sustainable for all community stakeholders it has to consider all the stakeholders regardless of their tax bracket. There even has to be a more equitable way to implement solar power so that the poor and middle class does not have to shoulder all the costs.  A “Smart City” has to do more than be able to connect the data but realize behind the numbers are people.

Our goal is to create a beloved community and
this will require a qualitative change in our souls
as well as a quantitative change in our lives.

~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Building Smarter Sustainable Cities #ActOnClimate

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