Adaptive cities: The next phase for smart cities


February 14, 2023

Adaptive cities allow municipalities to balance political, economic, social, technological, and environmental conditions, continuously analyzing and acting on them.

Cities are incredibly dynamic. And while smart cities are being used and considered globally to help improve operations, the delivery of services, and the quality of life, some believe more is needed. Specifically, smart city planners and designers must begin thinking along the lines of adaptive cities.

Let’s put the scope of the issues into perspective. Many cities are already facing problems dealing with traffic, waste management, water, sustainability issues, and more. And the situation will only get worse in the years to come. Currently, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, with 68% projected to live in urban areas by 2050. In the United States, the number is already at 83% and is projected to reach 89% by 2050.

Smart cities have long been eyed as a way to deal with many of the challenges municipalities face on a day-to-day basis. Such cities collect vast amounts of data, which is collected and analyzed via edge devices. But according to the World Economic Forum, “the city of the future needs to go one critical step further. It needs to become an adaptive city able to respond dynamically to continuous change and disruption.”

It further noted that developments and events in recent years show just how disruptive things can be. On the new technologies front, the forum points to things like 3D printing, artificial intelligence, autonomous cars, digital twins, and more. On the disruptive side, there has been the pandemic, extreme weather events, and geopolitical conflicts.

Enter adaptive cities

The forum noted that “the smart city concept worked well for steady-state conditions, but in a world of continuous disruption, a key requirement for the city is to be able to respond to change and do so with intrinsic agility across both digital and physical aspects of its operating model. Agility in the digital ecosystem is nothing if the city remains brittle in its physical infrastructure.”

That’s where adaptive cities come in. They must balance all the political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental conditions, continuously analyzing and acting on them.

One area that highlights the nuanced difference between a smart city and an adaptive city is parking. There are many applications of smart parking that share empty spot availability gathered via distributed sensors with drivers seeking a place to park. Such apps aim to reduce congestion caused by drivers endlessly circling the block to find a parking spot.

In some cases, the municipality has taken the approach to a higher level by combining more than one technology. One example was a pilot program at the Stuttgart airport that combined an intelligent infrastructure, a digital parking garage operations platform, and autonomous vehicles into an automated valet parking service.

These programs and initiatives are innovative. But the World Economic Forum points to more dynamic systems that would deliver greater benefits that might be implemented in the future. One example is a dynamic curb management solution that enables city planners to smoothen the flow of traffic and deliveries at the curbside. Such a solution could turn two-hour parking spots into three-minute loading zones at times when deliveries are commonly made. In fact, several U.S. cities are working on versions of this where they offer dynamically-priced delivery zones, with rates and availability based on time of day and other factors. Such a service could be proactively managed on a minute-by-minute basis.

In general, a dynamic curb management solution is quite a different beast than a smart app that helps people park. The latter saves residents time, reduces traffic congestion, and most likely helps the city reduce the carbon emissions that would have come from cars circling blocks. The former does similar things but also helps delivery services get goods into the hands of merchants, maximizes the use of precious real estate (curbside parking), and brings additional revenue to the city.

Read the article here: Adaptive cities: The next phase for smart cities

Chattanooga building out ‘smart intersection network’


January 6, 2023

Chattanooga, Tennessee, will add dozens of “smart city intersections” through an ongoing partnership supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Chattanooga Department of Innovation Delivery and Performance, working with Seoul Robotics and the Center of Urban Informatics and Progress at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, are installing sensing technology in 86 downtown intersections, building on a testbed established in 2019. The Federal Highway Administration is funding the $4.5 million initiative through the ATTAIN program, said CUIP Founding Director Mina Sartipi, and installations will happen this year and next.

The intersections will be equipped with tools, namely lidar sensing technology, to gain real-time traffic insights and monitor infrastructure usage. That data can inform future traffic management, alleviate congestion, and map ideal locations for EV charging stations, among other potential benefits, partners say.


Chattanooga, the southeastern Tennessee city with about 182,000 people, has embraced smart city research and implementation. This week’s announcement builds on a 2019 testbed known as the MLK Smart Corridor. There, sensors track and predict the movement of pedestrians and vehicles, which partners say allows them to better understand traffic flow and road user interactions, and identify potentially unsafe incidents.

The expansion is expected to result in over 100 tech-equipped intersections across downtown. “Our work in Chattanooga will deliver more than insights into the city,” said William Muller, vice president of business development at Seoul Robotics, in the company’s announcement. The “scalable network of smart intersections” will allow partners to generate “a real world, data-informed testing environment for emissions management, pedestrian safety, electric vehicles and more,” Muller said.

Sartipi also explained that the partners have a digital twin that simulates intersections using those data inputs. The digital twin allows them to test and see how a change in traffic light timing, for example, could affect traffic flow.

Seoul Robotics said the expansion will be “the largest urban Internet of Things deployment of its kind in the United States.” While the earlier focus of the testbed largely centered on understanding safety issues surrounding vulnerable road users, Sartipi said this next phase of the testbed and its growing footprint will allow researchers to focus on “next-generation transportation,” including electrification, connected vehicles, and potentially automated vehicles.

Read the article here: Chattanooga building out ‘smart intersection network’

Israel targets 'smart' cities with new 5G mobile auction


December 8, 2022

Israel urged mobile firms to expand the deployment of fifth-generation sites to allow for ‘smart’ stadiums and hospitals on Wednesday, as the country launched its second 5G tender.

Communications Ministry director general Liran Avisar Ben Horin said in a statement that smart traffic lights using 5G would prevent congestion and accidents, while patients will be able to receive immediate medical care remotely.

“I call on the cellular companies to deploy 5G sites all over the country to improve the quality of life of their customers and place Israel at the forefront of global innovation,” she said.

Fifth-generation technology is 10 times faster than widespread 4G and the ministry said rolling it out would improve Internet access in dense city centers.

It said cellular operators that share a network will be allowed to participate in the tender alone or by submitting a joint offer, but did not say how much the new frequencies would cost mobile companies.

The ministry said it will allocate advanced frequencies to mobile operators in the ultra-fast 26 GHz range “to respond to the various needs of cellular communication in Israel.”

Israel allocated three 5G frequencies – 700 MHz, 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz – in an auction in 2019 which have since been deployed by mobile operators and are all marginally profitable.

In its previous tender, heavy incentives such as government grants were be provided to cash-strapped mobile firms to participate and the amounts raised were a fraction of the hundreds of millions of euros seen in Europe.

Read the article here: Israel targets ‘smart’ cities with new 5G mobile auction

Biden signs $1T infrastructure deal with bipartisan crowd


November 16, 2021

President Joe Biden signed his hard-fought $1 trillion infrastructure deal into law Monday before a bipartisan, celebratory crowd on the White House lawn, declaring that the new infusion of cash for roads, bridges, ports and more is going to make life “change for the better” for the American people.

But prospects are tougher for further bipartisanship ahead of the 2022 midterm elections as Biden pivots back to more difficult negotiations over his broader $1.85 trillion social spending package.

The president hopes to use the infrastructure law to build back his popularity, which has taken a hit amid rising inflation and the inability to fully shake the public health and economic risks from COVID-19.

“My message to the American people is this: America is moving again and your life is going to change for the better,” he said.

With the bipartisan deal, the president had to choose between his promise of fostering national unity and a commitment to transformative change. The final measure whittled down much of his initial vision for infrastructure. Yet the administration hopes to sell the new law as a success that bridged partisan divides and will elevate the country with clean drinking water, high-speed internet and a shift away from fossil fuels.

“Folks, too often in Washington, the reason we didn’t get things done is because we insisted on getting everything we want. Everything,” Biden said. “With this law, we focused on getting things done. I ran for president because the only way to move our country forward in my view was through compromise and consensus.”

Biden will get outside Washington to sell the plan more broadly in coming days.

He intends go to New Hampshire on Tuesday to visit a bridge on the state’s “red list” for repair, and he will go to Detroit on Wednesday for a stop at General Motors’ electric vehicle assembly plant, while other officials also fan out across the country. The president went to the Port of Baltimore last week to highlight how the supply chain investments from the law could limit inflation and strengthen supply chains, a key concern of voters who are dealing with higher prices.

“We see this as is an opportunity because we know that the president’s agenda is quite popular,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday before the signing. The outreach to voters can move “beyond the legislative process to talk about how this is going to help them. And we’re hoping that’s going to have an impact.”

Biden held off on signing the hard-fought infrastructure deal after it passed on Nov. 5 until legislators would be back from a congressional recess and could join in a splashy bipartisan event. On Sunday night before the signing, the White House announced Mitch Landrieu, the former New Orleans mayor, would help manage and coordinate the implementation of the infrastructure spending.

The gathering Monday on the White House lawn was uniquely upbeat with a brass band and peppy speeches, a contrast to the drama and tensions when the fate of the package was in doubt for several months. The speakers lauded the measure for creating jobs, combating inflation and responding to the needs of voters.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican who helped negotiate the package, celebrated Biden’s willingness to jettison much of his initial proposal to help bring GOP lawmakers on board. Portman even credited former President Donald Trump for raising awareness about infrastructure, even though the loser of the 2020 election voiced intense opposition to the ultimate agreement.

“This bipartisan support for this bill comes because it makes sense for our constituents, but the approach from the center out should be the norm, not the exception,” Portman said.

The signing included governors and mayors of both parties and labor and business leaders. In addition to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the guest list included Republicans such as Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, New York Rep. Tom Reed, Alaska Rep. Don Young and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

In order to achieve a bipartisan deal, the president had to cut back his initial ambition to spend $2.3 trillion on infrastructure by more than half. The bill that becomes law on Monday in reality includes about $550 billion in new spending over 10 years, since some of the expenditures in the package were already planned.

The agreement ultimately got support from 19 Senate Republicans, including Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell. Thirteen House Republicans also voted for the infrastructure bill. An angry Trump issued a statement attacking “Old Crow” McConnell and other Republicans for cooperating on “a terrible Democrat Socialist Infrastructure Plan.”

McConnell said the country “desperately needs” the new infrastructure money, but he skipped Monday’s signing ceremony, telling WHAS radio in Louisville, Kentucky, that he had “other things” to do.

Historians, economists and engineers interviewed by The Associated Press welcomed Biden’s efforts. But they stressed that $1 trillion was not nearly enough to overcome the government’s failure for decades to maintain and upgrade the country’s infrastructure. The politics essentially forced a trade-off in terms of potential impact not just on the climate but on the ability to outpace the rest of the world this century and remain the dominant economic power.

“We’ve got to be sober here about what our infrastructure gap is in terms of a level of investment and go into this eyes wide open, that this is not going to solve our infrastructure problems across the nation,” said David Van Slyke, dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

Biden also tried unsuccessfully to tie the infrastructure package to passage of a broader package of $1.85 trillion in proposed spending on families, health care and a shift to renewable energy that could help address climate change. That measure has yet to gain sufficient support from the narrow Democratic majorities in the Senate and House.

Biden continues to work to appease Democratic skeptics of the broader package such as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, while also holding on to the most liberal branches of his party. Pelosi said in remarks at the Monday bill signing that the separate package will pass “hopefully this week.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz expressed concern during a Fox News interview Sunday that Republican support for the infrastructure law could ultimately lead Democrats to rally and back the second package.

“They gave Joe Biden a political win,” Cruz said of his fellow Republicans. “He will now go across the country touting, look at this big bipartisan win. And that additional momentum, unfortunately, makes it more likely that they whip their Democrats into shape and pass some multitrillion-dollar spending bill on top of this.”

The haggling over infrastructure has shown that Biden can still bring together Democrats and Republicans, even as tensions continue to mount over the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump who falsely believe that Biden was not legitimately elected president. Yet the result is a product that might not meet the existential threat of climate change or the transformative legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose portrait hangs in Biden’s Oval Office.

“Yes, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a big deal,” said Peter Norton, a history professor in the University of Virginia’s engineering department. “But the bill is not transformational, because most of it is more of the same.”

Norton compared the limited action on climate change to the start of World War II, when Roosevelt and Congress reoriented the entire U.S. economy after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Within two months, there was a ban on auto production. Dealerships had no new cars to sell for four years as factories focused on weapons and war materiel. To conserve fuel consumption, a national speed limit of 35 mph was introduced.

“The emergency we face today warrants a comparable emergency response,” Norton said.

Read the article here: Biden signs $1T infrastructure deal with bipartisan crowd

Smart bandage contains sensors to detect wound-healing process


October 22, 2021

A new ‘smart bandage’ has been developed that contains a sensor which detects moisture levels in a wound and then transmits the data to a nearby smartphone, without requiring doctors to remove the bandage.

Developed by researchers at the University of Bologna in Italy, the bandage allows doctors to determine how well a dressed wound is healing without removing the bandage, which can disrupt the healing process.

By changing the geometry and materials in the bandage, the researchers believe it could be fine-tuned to suit different types of wound.

Chronic wounds can be a source of significant suffering and disability for patients who experience them.

Getting such wounds to heal can be difficult due to a large number of varying factors that impact the healing process, such as temperature, glucose levels, and acidity. One of the most important is moisture levels – too dry, and the tissue can become desiccated; too wet, and it can become white and wrinkly. Both these situations disrupt the healing process.

Checking the moisture level of a wound typically involves removing the bandage, which can cause damage to the delicate healing tissue.

The new smart bandage uses a conductive polymer that has been applied onto a gauze using a screen-printing technique; the gauze is then incorporated into commercially available bandage materials. The idea is that changes in the moisture level of the wound cause a change in an electrical signal measured by the sensor.

The organic semiconducting polymer can be easily deposited on several substrates as a standard ink.

“We also incorporated a cheap, disposable and bandage-compatible RFID tag, similar to those used for clothing security tags, into the textile patch. The tag can wirelessly communicate moisture level data with a smartphone, allowing healthcare staff to know when a bandage needs to be changed,” said Dr Marta Tessarolo of the University of Bologna, an author on the study.

To test their bandages, the researchers exposed them to artificial wound exudate, which is the liquid that seeps from wounds, and also tested different bandage materials and shapes. They found that the bandage was highly sensitive, providing widely differing readings between dry, moist and saturated conditions, suggesting it could be a valuable tool in wound management.

“We developed a range of bandages with various layers and different absorption properties and characteristics,” said Dr Luca Possanzini, another author from the University of Bologna.

“The idea is that each type of wound could have its own appropriate dressing, from slowly exuding wounds to highly exuding wounds, such as burns and blisters. However, we will need to further optimise the sensor geometry and determine the appropriate sensor values for optimal healing before we can apply our technology to various types of wounds.”

Various smart bandages have been developed over the years, including one that releases medications into a wound when commanded by an app and a smart patch that could allow people to self-administer Covid-19 vaccines.

Read the article here: Smart bandage contains sensors to detect wound-healing process

Jacobs' Fulcrum Bridge Technology Goes Into Production


September 3, 2021

Jacobs Vehicle Systems, a worldwide manufacturer of engine retarding and valve actuation systems for the commercial vehicle industry, has started Fulcrum Bridge production at its U.S. headquarters in Bloomfield, Connecticut. Fulcrum Bridge makes it possible to combine conventional engine braking with automatic hydraulic lash adjustment – two technologies, which were previously incompatible, to both enhance vehicle performance and reduce operating costs.

Jacobs’ first Fulcrum Bridge product includes a high-performance compression release engine brake, manufactured on a state-of-the-art semi-automated manufacturing line and is part of an overall valvetrain system that will be supplied to an Original Equipment Manufacturer in the U.S. The technology’s first production application will be on an off-road application. Other heavy-duty off-highway applications, such as articulated dump trucks used in construction and mining, farm vehicles and vocational applications are expected to follow.

Steve Ernest, vice president of engineering & business development at Jacobs Vehicle Systems, commented: “Fulcrum Bridge is a breakthrough technology because engine makers no longer have to choose between Hydraulic Lash Adjusters (HLAs), which set and maintain the clearance in the valve train between valve and camshaft, and a Jake Brake®. With Fulcrum Bridge, it is now possible to have the advantages of our world-famous engine brake and know that the lash setting is good for the life of the engine.”

Engine braking is desirable because it reduces service brake wear and maintenance, enhances safety when operating on steep hills and with heavy loads, and lowers the total cost of ownership. HLAs are desirable because they enhance efficiency by allowing for more consistent valve motions throughout all engine operating conditions and wear over the engine’s lifetime and eliminates the need to periodically adjust the engine’s lash settings. Reduced servicing requirements are particularly beneficial with off-highway vehicles whose engines are not easily accessible and may require significant vehicle disassembly.

Conventional engine brakes were previously incompatible with HLAs because as the engine brake holds one exhaust valve open, the HLA will over-extend, possibly causing valve-to-piston contact once engine braking is turned off. Jacobs’ solution applies a reactive load to the HLA during an engine braking event to prevent this over-extension.

Even more benefits can be realized by using Fulcrum Bridge in on-highway applications. On-highway engines are facing strong emissions regulations from 2024 through 2030 worldwide. Using HLAs will allow the ideal valve lift to be maintained throughout the life of the engine thereby maintaining original engine combustion and emissions performance. This will keep DPF re-gen intervals consistent and keep the engine running healthy longer.

Read the article here: Jacobs’ Fulcrum Bridge Technology Goes Into Production

Centrica and VW Announce EV Enablement Partnership in UK


March 9, 2020

Centrica, Volkswagen (VW) set to accelerate EV adoption across the UK, after agreeing on a 3-year partnership to provide home charging solutions for new owners

Centrica, the UK’s biggest energy company, and the Volkswagen Group (VW), one of the world’s leading automotive manufacturers, are set to accelerate EV adoption across the UK, after agreeing a three-year partnership to provide home charging hardware solutions for new electric vehicle (EV) owners.

The deal will see Elli, the central provider of charging hardware and related services for the main Volkswagen Group, work exclusively with British Gas to deliver a package of home charging installations, after-sales services and preparatory electrical upgrades across the UK. This will help customers to transition to EV smoothly and cost-effectively, initially across the Volkswagen, SEAT, ŠKODA and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles with plans for Audi to join later this year.

The Volkswagen Group has committed to introducing 80 electric and plug-in hybrid models by 2025.

“2020 is a landmark year for the Volkswagen Group as we launch the ID.3, the first car on the ground-breaking MEB platform. The Volkswagen Group is committed to the Paris Agreement on climate change and we have set our goals on zero carbon emissions by 2050. Here in the UK, we will do our part, and I am delighted that Elli has teamed up with Centrica to deliver home charging solutions. This will give customers even more confidence as they make the switch to emission-free driving,” said Alex Smith, managing director, Volkswagen Group UK.

Centrica is working with car manufacturers, fleet owners and public bodies to support them in EV readiness, providing an EV enablement package that includes charger infrastructure, energy management, financing, and optimisation. It also offers a British Gas electric vehicle tariff that allows consumers to take advantage of off-peak electricity prices by using the car dashboard or car manufacturer’s app to schedule EV charging during the cheaper night time hours.

“Getting carbon out of transport by accelerating EV adoption is critical for net-zero. We’re proud to play our part by helping enable the EV transition for Volkswagen, one of the world’s most forward-thinking and ambitious automotive companies.

“Centrica is committed to a pathway for the energy transition in line with the Paris agreement through focusing on three things – helping our customers reduce their emissions, reducing the emissions of the energy system as a whole, and reducing our own. We made material progress on all of these during 2019 and are committed to a plan for delivering net-zero by 2050,” said Sarwjit Sambhi, CEO, Centrica Consumer.

Read the article here: Centrica and VW Announce EV Enablement Partnership in UK