Category Archives: cities

Bike Sharing in Shanghai

I am a great fan of bike sharing. And I am a great fan of cities learning from each other about how to do it better.

Fred Wilson posts about how New York could learn a thing or two the the Shanghai bike sharing system.

Way to go Fred!

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Time for Puerto Rico to Go Solar?

Make no mistake, Puerto Rico has just suffered a disaster of epic proportions via Hurricane Maria. Not only that, but Puerto Ricans have discovered that they will not get sufficient relief from the US feds.

That all sounds like bad news and it is. At the same time, it is the type of news that opens the door to new thinking. After all, at this stage, what have you got to lose?  In the wake of this disaster, Puerto Rico may find a new uniting narrative about how to rebuild.

For example, power is out on the island. It will not be restored for months. Is it time to consider how to use this as an opportunity to re-think how power should be delivered?  Why not? Especially when we are in the midst of a revolution in moving from fossil fuel generated power plants to decentralized solar!

Put it this way. Does it make sense for Puerto Rico to rebuild an antiquated power infrastructure? Or does it make sense for Puerto Rico to embrace a trend that is likely to replace it?

Enter Elon Musk, a dude who has a big stake in making the revolution happen. Musk is pitching to Puerto Rico that his companies can help rebuild its power infrastructure based on solar.

What would you do if this were your decision?

Stay tuned to find out what Puerto Rico does!

Coming to Toronto: A Smart City Hub

To be honest, I am not entirely sure what a “smart city hub” is. The advertisement to develop the Quayside smart city hub envisions

…  the district as “an exemplary waterfront community that achieves precedent-setting standards of sustainability, resiliency, innovation, inclusivity and design excellence,”

Image result for Toronto Quayside Sidewalk Labs

That all sounds good, but who would want to plonk down the billioin dollars or so to build it? Apparently “Sidewalk Labs is ready to do that. The money supposedly will come from Google, though the details apparently are not yet arranged.

The board of the Waterfront district of Toronto will vote on Sidewalk Labs proposal on October 20. Any no votes? I tend to doubt it.

This is very cool stuff, and it illustrates the potential benefits of thinking big.

Government by Kickstarter?

How many people do you know who say that they love paying taxes? Hmmm … I did meet a Swede who made that argument. But I can’t remember anyone else. At best, I have heard that “I do what I am supposed to do.” Or I hear “What choice do I have?” But not, “Yes! I  would like to pay more if I could!”

And yet, people are paying more! City Lab reports that local governments are getting into kickstarter campaigns to raise cash for public projects. And they are working. People want to pay for stuff when they know what they are getting.

This reaffirms an idea that Dave Meslin discussed in a TED talk some years ago. People are not naturally apathetic about participating in government. But in many cases, government has not evolved in ways — so far — that enables that participation.

Will that change?

When the Flooding Subsides, Let’s Talk

One of the less inspiring moments that I have experienced was watching the devastation that Hurricane Katrina caused in New Orleans. Sadly,  we just were not ready to deal with this disaster.

But America is the “can do” country, and I would have expected that America would have learned from Katrina. For one thing, I would have expected that public officials would get it through their heads that these types of weather events will happen on a regular basis. Thus, we have to plan for how to deal with them.

Lo and behold, we have Hurricane Harvey. Harvey is not over yet, and so we still do not know how extensive the damage will be. But one thing is becoming clear. Texas was as unprepared for Harvey as New Orleans was for Katrina.

It would be one thing if  there were no models for handling water intrusions AKA flooding. But the Dutch have been dealing with this for more than half a century and have developed some great ideas.

So why are we not taking over these ideas to be ready for the next big one?