Less than six months after launching a brand-new city mapping system that overlays police-department data with other city data, a team of city analysts has won a national award for innovation.
The team, made up of staffers from the Philadelphia Police Department and the Managing Director’s Office, learned last week that it was selected for a Special Achievement in GIS [Geographic Information Systems] award given annually by international GIS firm Esri.
Read more via Philly.com
Buried under the streets of Santander, Spain—or discreetly affixed to buses, utility poles, and dumpsters—are some 12,000 electronic sensors that track everything from traffic to noise to surfing conditions at local beaches. This digital nervous system puts the city of 180,000 at the forefront of one of the hottest trends in urban management: streaming real-time data to the public in an effort to increase the efficiency and reduce the stress of city life.
Santander’s narrow downtown streets are dotted with electronic signs that direct drivers to the nearest available parking spaces, reducing traffic congestion. Sensors are being installed on dumpsters to signal when they need emptying and are being buried in parks to measure soil dampness, preventing sprinkler overuse. Coming soon: wireless-enabled meters that monitor water consumption at homes and businesses, phasing out door-to-door meter readers. Mayor Iñigo de la Serna says the effort, known as SmartSantander, will cut city waste-management bills 20 percent this year, and he projects a 25 percent drop in energy bills as sensors conserve use in public building systems. “Smart innovation is improving our economic fabric and the quality of life,” the mayor says. “It has changed the way we work.”
Read more via Bloomberg
We know that the population of the US is rising, and we know that the population of the US is also becoming increasingly urban. As a result, urban density — the number of people per square mile — has to be going up.
And yet, if you calculate density the right way, weighting by population rather than by land area, you find something very odd: density is actually going down.
Read more via Reuters
Today in the course of symposium “Insurance of risks in the field of alternative and renewable energy sources,” deputy director of the State Agency for Alternative and Renewable Energy (ABEMDA) Jamil Melikov has stated that Gobustan will be developed as a “smart city” in connection with location of a landfill on alternative energy.
“We intend to implement plans, under which renewable energy will be used in all areas of urban infrastructure. It also includes the provision of status of “Smart City” to Gobustan,” Melikov said.
Read more via ABC.AZ
The heart of the problem with poor pavement in Los Angeles is aging streets, heavy traffic, undulating terrain and the sheer size of the network. The streets in the poorest shape tend to be in hillside neighborhoods, such as the Hollywood Hills, Mount Washington, Los Feliz and Bel-Air.
But layered on top of those problems is a street repair strategy that bypasses the worst streets in favor of preserving salvageable ones. Street officials have also made a political decision to bring the overall grade of roads in each City Council district to the same level.
For Angelenos waiting for their street to be rebuilt, abandon all hope: There is a 60-year backlog of failed streets — meaning residents might not see them fixed in their lifetimes.
View an online map of street quality grades:
Read more via The Los Angeles Times
Sensors streaming real-time information on everything from traffic to weather and water systems, and even how many people are on the city’s streets. This is Roger Dennis’ plan to make Christchurch unique.
For the past 12 months the Christchurch technology expert has been living and breathing a concept called The Sensing City, which would see sensors installed underneath the city’s roads and at the top of street lights. They would then stream real-time information that could be used by city planners to create a “snapshot of how cities actually work”.
Read more via The Press
A powerful explosion in Prague, Czech Republic, has damaged an office building, leaving up to 40 people injured. The blast highlights the danger from ageing, leaky gas pipelines around the world. The blast occurred at around 08:00 GMT. It is not certain what caused it, but Czech police say it was most likely a gas leak.
Aging infrastructure such as pipelines is becoming a major problem in many developed countries, says Nathan Phillips of Boston University. By driving around Boston and San Francisco with sensors in his car, Phillips has identified thousands of gas leaks (Environmental Pollution, DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2012.11.003). “For older cities it’s a systemic problem and it needs attention,” he says. So far there is not enough data to determine which countries’ infrastructure is leakiest. Most new pipelines are made of plastic, which is much less leaky than metal. However it’s not clear how long plastic pipes will last, so Phillips says new pipelines should be fitted with sensors that issue warnings when they are leaking.
Read more via NewScientist
The 70-year-old physicist Geoffrey West, who grew up in Somerset, England, is no longer trying to solve the physical universe; he’s not interested in deep space or string theory. Although West worked for decades as a physicist at Stanford University and Los Alamos National Laboratory, he started thinking about leaving the field after the financing for the Texas superconducting supercollider was canceled by Congress in 1993. West, however, wasn’t ready to retire, and so he began searching for subjects that needed his skill set.
Eventually he settled on cities: the urban jungle looked chaotic — all those taxi horns and traffic jams — but perhaps it might be found to obey a short list of universal rules. “We spend all this time thinking about cities in terms of their local details, their restaurants and museums and weather,” West says. “I had this hunch that there was something more, that every city was also shaped by a set of hidden laws.”
Read more via The New York Times
The average male worker earns less in inflation-adjusted wages than he would have in 1968. As the middle class hollows out, the gap between rich and poor widens, and what were left with is A Tale of Two Cities–in almost every city in the country.
For a visualization of America’s disparate economic worlds, look no further than Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks, which maps the median rent and income of every neighborhood in the country. Created by Chris Persaud, Rich Blocks Poor Blocks uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and paints a fascinating, if distressing, portrait of the nation’s economic landscape.
Read more via Fast.Co.EXIST
The capital city’s 100-year-old system of sewer and water lines are being marked and mapped using geographic information system technology in a project Mayor Linda Thompson said the city is undertaking with the Harrisburg Authority.
When completed, the city will know the size and type, installation date, and condition of the entire sewer and water system piping.
Read more via The Patriot News
The ‘Verizon 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report’ reveals that large-scale financial cybercrime and state-affiliated espionage dominated the security landscape in 2012. Taking the top spot for all breaches in the 2013 report is financially motived cybercrime (75 percent), with state-affiliated espionage campaigns claiming the No. 2 spot (20 percent). Breaches in the No. 2 spot include cyberthreats aimed at stealing intellectual property — such as classified information, trade secrets and technical resources — to further national and economic interests.
The 2013 DBIR also found that the proportion of incidents involving hacktivists — who act out of ideological motivations or even just for fun — held steady; but the amount of data stolen decreased, as many hacktivists shifted to other methods such as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. These attacks, aimed at paralyzing or disrupting systems, also have significant costs because they impair business and operations.
“The bottom line is that unfortunately, no organization is immune to a data breach in this day and age,” said Wade Baker, principal author of the Data Breach Investigations Report series. “We have the tools today to combat cybercrime, but it’s really all about selecting the right ones and using them in the right way.
“In other words, understand your adversary – know their motives and methods, and prepare your defenses accordingly and always keep your guard up,” Baker said.
In 2012, victims represented a wide range of industries. Thirty-seven percent of breaches affected financial organizations, and 24 percent affected retailers and restaurants. Twenty percent of network intrusions involved the manufacturing, transportation and utilities industries, with the same percentage affecting information and professional services firms. Of all cyberattacks, 38 percent impacted larger organizations and represented 27 different countries.
“All in all, the large scale and diverse nature of data breaches and other network attacks took center stage for all to see in 2012,” Baker said.
Now in its sixth year of publication, the 2013 data breach report includes 621 confirmed data breaches as well as more than 47,000 reported security incidents. Over the entire nine-year range of this study, that tally now exceeds 2,500 data breaches and 1.2 billion compromised records. Verizon is joined by 18 organizations from around the world that contributed data and analysis to this year’s report.
“With more than a three-fold increase in data contributors this year, the ‘2013 Data Breach Investigations Report’ offers what we believe is the most comprehensive look ever into the state of cybersecurity,” said David Small, chief platform officer for Verizon Enterprise Solutions. “As always, our goal in producing the report is to increase the awareness of global cybercrime in an effort to improve the security industry’s ability to fight it, while helping government agencies and private sector organizations develop their own tailored security plans.”
Other Key Findings in the 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report
External attacks remain largely responsible for data breaches, with 92 percent of them attributable to outsiders and 14 percent committed by insiders. This category includes organized crime, activist groups, former employees, lone hackers and even organizations sponsored by foreign governments. As in the prior year’s report, business partners were responsible for about 1 percent of data breaches.
In terms of attack methods, hacking is the No. 1 way breaches occur. In fact, hacking was a factor in 52 percent of data breaches. Seventy-six percent of network intrusions exploited weak or stolen credentials (user name/password); 40 percent incorporated malware (malicious software, script or code used to compromise information); 35 percent involved physical attacks (such as ATM skimming); and 29 percent leveraged social tactics (such as phishing).
The proportion of breaches incorporating social tactics such as phishing was four-times higher in 2012, which, according to the breach report, is directly related to the tactic’s widespread use in targeted espionage campaigns.
Additionally, the compromise-to-discovery timeline continues to be measured in months and even years, as opposed to hours and days. Finally, third parties continue to detect the majority of breaches (69 percent).
The report can be downloaded in full at: http://verizonenterprise.com/DBIR/2013/. As in years past, the 2013 report includes recommendations that large and small organizations can implement to help safeguard their business.
We all have a stake in the infrastructure surrounding us — the roads, buildings, power lines, and telephone networks that we rely on daily. How well they’re built and operated is crucial to economic growth and is a key arbiter of an economy’s competitiveness — and yet, virtually every economy faces an array of infrastructure challenges.
Just a few examples illustrate some of the pressing issues: South Africa’s power distribution network has an estimated maintenance backlog of $4 billion — equivalent to half of the country’s total investment in electric power generation and distribution in 2011. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that 15% of the country’s roads are in an unacceptable condition and says that road congestion costs the U.S. an estimated $100 billion per year. In Jakarta, from 2005-2009, the number of cars rose by 22% annually, while the distance of usable roads actually declined (PDF). The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean estimates that investment equivalent to 7.9% of GDP (PDF) is necessary to raise infrastructure in the region to the standard of developed East Asian countries.
Read more via Harvard Business Review
If city and regional planning in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio were the focus of a reality-TV series, the current season would be ablaze with fiery conflicts among protagonists, plus lots of juicy subplots.
The drama concerns whether Northeast Ohio’s shrinking cities can fight their way back to growth before sprawl development turns the region into a loose confederation of hollowed-out urban centers and declining, fiscally unsustainable suburbs.
Read more via The Plain Dealer
Philadelphia’s arts office will unveil a mapping technology this month that will help businesses and the public locate “creative” neighborhoods for potential investment.
CultureBlocks, as the technology will be known, is a mapping tool that helps people make decisions about “place and creativity” in the city. It can be used for “research, planning, decision making and investment on the neighborhood level.”
Read more via the Philadelphia Business Journal
An in-depth report commissioned by Metro Vancouver has been conducted to determine how dirty – or not – the province’s truck fleet is. The study was conducted using remote emissions sensing at 26 locations throughout the Lower Fraser Valley over a 55-day period between July and October 2012. Envirotest Canada set up remote sensing devices at roadside sites, weigh scales and brake check points, which use infrared technology to measure the output of hydrocarbons, NOx, particulate matter and carbon monoxide from heavy-duty trucks as they pass through an infrared beam. Emissions from a total of 11,700 heavy vehicles were read, and then traced back to a specific make and model year using the province’s registration database.
The study found that the emissions standards implemented by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and adopted by Canada, have been effective in drastically reducing PM and NOx.
Read more via Truck News
Governments across Europe, Canada and Australia have long turned to the private sector to help finance public assets, and even in the U.S., more places are dabbling in it. But it’s still rare for cities to take the lead. And no place, at least in this country, has tried what Chicago is launching this year: A non-profit agency devoted to tapping private capital through structured financing while retaining public ownership, both for big-ticket items but also for workaday municipal infrastructure.
A lot of people are watching what’s going on in Chicago, and if the “City That Works” can make this work, it could hold the key to an evolution in public-private partnerships — and the way our cities get built.
Read more via Next City
Part of a high-tech moose sensor system designed to warn drivers that animals are near or on the highway has been out of order for weeks.
The Newfoundland and Labrador government spent $1.5 million installing two sets of columns with infrared sensors on the Trans-Canada Highway in 2011; one outside St. John’s and the other near Grand Falls-Windsor. The sensors are supposed to trigger warning lights if they detect moose, but the system near St. John’s is not working.
Read more via CBS
Google is bringing a fiber-optic data network to homeowners in Kansas City, Mo., and Kan., but without the usual regulations. That means underprivileged neighborhoods may be left in the digital dust.
Consider some of the things that have bound our nation together:
Universal postal service at a flat rate, whether you live in Santa Monica or Sitka, Alaska. Interstate highways, built with taxpayer funds and free of tolls. Regulated phone and electric service, with lifeline rates for the economically disadvantaged.
These were all based on a social contract honoring the notion that essential infrastructure should be available to all — indeed, that those normally left by the side of the economic road might be most in need.
Read more in the Los Angeles Times
Code for America and Google for Entrepreneurs are partnering to form an incubator that will support Code for America fellows as they try to turn their ideas into companies.
Code for America (CfA) describes itself as “a Peace Corps for geeks.” Its mission is to improve the way governments work through the creative and intelligent use of technology. The organization operates a fellowship, an accelerator, a brigade for civic organizing, and a peer network that all work toward this goal.
Read more via Venture Beat
Google has come to Parliament Hill. For the next few days, a team from the technology giant is walking through the halls of the Parliament buildings to map out the centre of democracy for its popular Street View site.
“They can virutally walk through these amazing halls and go into the house of commons chambers, visit the prime minister’s office, go to the senate,” Aaron Brindle with Google explained. “It’s going to be pretty amazing.”
Brindle said Google is using a special trolley camera to walk the historic halls and capture a 360-degree view everywhere they go.
Read more via 680 News