50 Project Ideas To Help You Score Contracts With (Local) Governments
About this report
This report provides a list of promising projects and technologies that have been used in places around the world. It is meant to be used by the companies looking to score contracts with (local) governments to the benefit of all parties included. As such, it could help businesses -- in partnerships with governments -- launch similar initiatives in their own municipalities.
There is a takeaway (summary) for every project as well as what we call the "Action point" that justifies launching the same or similar project in other parts of the world (where applicable). In addition, we also provide links to relevant parties that have been included in every project -- or those that are offering solutions related to the project.
It is our hope that this list will provide the reader with enough ideas to make his/her city a better place while also helping his/her own company.
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From time to time, SustainableAvenue.com will update this report with new information and inform users that the new version is available for download. We aim to bring the most useful information to our users and will be updating the report with new information as soon as we deem necessary.
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How to use Sustainable Avenue to score government contracts
We have created Sustainable Avenue after realizing that many (local) government officials are out of time. Just remember Mark Zuckerberg's Senate hearing -- some senators didn't have an idea how Facebook is working and making money. And, mind you, we're talking about one of the most valuable companies in the world.
The situation is similarly dire in many local jurisdictions all around the world. Yes, you got that right - this isn't the problem only poor countries are facing; the sad truth is that clueless politicians are spread all across the globe.
Sustainable Avenue is designed to help you score government contracts by showing you projects that are, in many cases, already working in some parts of the world. And they could be, at least partially, copied to work in other places as well.
For every project - we provide details, takeaway and, where applicable - also some photos and a video. Links to websites and LinkedIn profiles of companies developing those projects are included, as well.
You get to browse projects by a few different criteria: Sections, Technologies and Countries. From this page, you get to see all the different categories. Or you can use the search functionality.
The action on your behalf starts once you find a project you could copy/sell to the (local) government. From there, you could:
- Contact a company behind the project to see whether you could establish a partnership to offer something similar (or same) in the communities you serve
- Print the project page and mail to the local official who may be involved in procurements (to gather interest). There is an option to "Hide the action point" when printing - which you may want to use.
- Think about all the different ways how that project could be implemented in communities you operate in
- Engage other employees into the project, collect their input and ideas
Upon receiving all that feedback and information -- from the company that developed the project/technology, your colleagues and perhaps even someone from the (local) government -- it is time to get to work. Start preparing marketing and all other materials that may be needed down the line. You may have to engage the local media or a few websites to publish stories relevant to the project to further convince the government -- so be prepared.
The point is -- you get a few dozen projects with more coming every month. Even if you don't find anything relevant at this time (and we kinda doubt that), don't worry - you will find one eventually. And if everything else fails - you can contact us and demand a project that could be used by a company like yours. We're here to help. 😉
Table of Contents
- This company helps city agencies automate workflows
- This platform brings together stakeholders in waste management
- Two companies partner to develop a “vertiport in a box”
- This indoor farming service enables communities to grow their own ultra-fresh produce
- These Lego-like beams could revolutionize construction
- An AI-enabled robotic boat that collects marine plastic waste in rivers
- This company wants to revolutionize food waste separation
- A city launches program for affordable broadband
- Organizations working together on 15-minute city pilots
- This AI chat tool helps municipalities craft budget books
- A platform made to help prevent catastrophic wildfires
- Flowers and plants used to block traffic noise and pollution
- A platform that enables the circular sharing economy
- A solution helps cities deploy public Wi-Fi and cameras for traffic analytics and public safety
- This city plans to launch a very light rail line
- These floor tiles can generate electricity from people’s steps
- This city uses IoT to detect open windows and clogged gutters
- Novel tech can turn sewage into biogas
- This first public project for wireless charging of EVs starts in Germany
- This company’s solar roof has the potential to power mass adoption of clean energy
- A pilot project allows city residents to control their street lighting
- A company offers affordable geothermal heating and cooling
- New wind system enables efficient rooftop options to generate renewable energy
- Transparent window coating could cool buildings without energy
- New technology promises to reduce potholes
- A project to recharge electric vehicles with energy recovered from the metro
- This company’s tech aims to reduce pedestrian and cyclist fatalities
- This high-tech solution uses AI to analyze trees and prevent wildfires
- This company makes prefab facades that make old buildings energy efficient
- An app that helps keep communities clean
- An app that incentivises recycling and sustainable choices
- This city uses AI for personalized approach to tackling obesity
- This company wants to make homes from recycled plastic
- This company makes it easier for cities to make procurements
- City installs new tech to prioritize pedestrians over cars
- This city aims to plant one tree for every inhabitant
- The cycle path that is in harmony with the natural environment
- This solar-powered, self-charging car is made for daily urban mobility
- A Lego-inspired housing solution can help solve the housing crisis
- A cryptocurrency designed to help citizens support their cities
- This robot uses AI to rid beaches of cigarette butts
- This machine provides for an AI-enabled, waste-sorting process
- This pathway for bikes and pedestrians can generate energy for charging stations
- This company managed to erects a 10-storey apartment building in 29 hours
- This fintech company helps cities bridge the financial services gap
- A platform that promises more efficient streets and sidewalks
- These wind-powered street lamps aim to reduce light pollution
- Reducing crime with the help of smart cameras
- This company provides software and services to better manage transportation in cities
- This AI-enabled platform delivers real-time air quality data
Now, you may wonder how they can do that. Fair question and their secret is that over 60% of the team has previously worked in government — providing a deep understanding of the unique challenges facing federal, state, and large local agencies. In other words, they know where the bottlenecks are and can help tackle them to the benefit of all constituents. Also, City Innovate has teamed up with ServiceNow to deliver its end-to-end solutions.
City Innovate's cloud-based platform produces documents with "built-in intelligence," automating process workflows by turning the unstructured data hidden in large document sets into actionable data for greater insight and accountability. Data can then be injected into multiple systems within the government agency, including ERP systems. This, in turn, enables government employees to dramatically cut the time needed to get mission-critical solutions working for constituents.
"What we've found in working to modernize procurement, contracts, grants, and budgeting is that it's a balancing act," said Kamran Saddique, Co-CEO and Founder of City Innovate. "Yes, there is a need for speed. And to bring more innovative vendors to the table, especially when it comes to the acquisition of new technologies. At the same time, agency leaders are under enormous pressure to provide greater insight and accountability into how government money is being spent. The solutions that we are announcing today do just that: balance speed with insight and accountability."
And if you wonder, other City Innovate co-CEO Jay Nath was previously Chief Innovation Officer for the City of San Francisco. So yes, these two know what they're doing.
In May 2023, City Innovate secured a Series A round at $12M led by SJF Ventures, supporting their mission to catalyze the development of highly successful businesses driving lasting, positive changes.
Additional contributors included ServiceNow, as the second largest funder, TFJ Capital and Nellore Capital.
The result is a platform that produces documents with "built-in intelligence," automating process workflows by turning the unstructured data hidden in large document sets into actionable data for greater insight and accountability. Data can then be injected into multiple systems within the government agency, including ERP systems.
City Innovate's backers include SJF Ventures, ServiceNow, TFJ Capital, and Nellore Capital.
The problem, as we all know, is huge. In Seenons' home turf of the Netherlands alone, 2.75 megaton, or 76 million wheelie bins, of company waste is incinerated or ends up in landfills. EU-wise, 4.8 tonnes of waste were generated per inhabitant in 2020.
Seenons wants to change that and reuse as much waste as possible to eventually help build a world without waste and a circular economy by 2050.
Organizations looking to participate in this scheme can use the platform to find the best logistical companies and processors to turn their waste into valuable new raw materials. Seenons gives them insights into what happens to their waste and advise them on how to reduce their CO2 and reduce costs. The platform will also help these organizations reduce, reuse and recycle without disrupting existing processes or requiring large investments.
Logistics partners also get to benefit from arranging more volume per route and more stops per hour. This, in turn, allows them to transport waste with maximum route density from A to B. These companies will also get insights into results so that they can improve their logistical activities and optimize processes.
Finally, processors get to benefit from receiving high-quality waste streams. Seenons will help them with purchasing waste materials and receiving insights into the chain — so that together they can give waste a new life.
In April 2023, the company raised €10 million for further development of its circular platform, which happens to be Europe's largest. The investors included Invest-NL, CapitalT., Tablomonto, Swiss Post and Shamrock Ventures.
"With this funding we want to enable higher steps on the R-ladder: Reduce / Reuse / Recycle, in multiple countries across Europe. We will invest heavily in our leading European circular platform, an independent platform that serves as a waste orchestrator to transform the economy from linear to circular," said Martin Kayser, co-founder of Seenons and CTO.
Partners from Europe can join the platform, with the mission to bring people together for a waste-free world.
"The focus in the industry to date has been on larger vertiports located at existing airports. This is the low-hanging fruit which will form the essential backbone of an Advanced Air Mobility ecosystem," said Clem Newton-Brown, Skyportz CEO. "However, if this industry is to reach its potential we need to break the nexus between aviation and airports and let private property owners develop their own vertiports."
On its end, Skyportz is focusing on affordable options that property developers can incorporate into new developments or retrofit into existing buildings.
"We will soon be releasing a beautiful tiny modular vertiport building that can be delivered to site in a shipping container, and assembled without heavy equipment, complete with a high-powered battery bank and charger with solar panels," Newton-Brown added.
The Skyportz system will provide something of value from the moment of installation — the battery pack and solar panels can be hooked in to power the host building and the vertiport building can be used for other purposes while we wait for aircraft to get certified.
It is generally considered that it is too soon to get approvals for vertiport uses from Governments as the standards are still in development and nowhere in the world has anyone set out the rules and regulations (other than for display sites).
"Skyportz will be getting our network of vertiports and battery packs established now with enthusiastic property owners who will come back later for an aviation use permit. In the meantime, they will have developed sustainable power storage and a vertiport building that could be used as a cafe or meeting room", said Newton-Brown.
Skyportz will be announcing further partners once their modular design is released later this year — including weather data, air traffic management systems, booking services, and aviation operators.
"We will offer a complete solution for property owners to activate their sites for aviation. And as a modular, fully transportable system we will be able to supply any global market with our partners at Electro.Aero", said Newton-Brown.
On its end, Electro.Aero will be supplying its battery charging and power storage tech to support electric aviation. Their systems will be suitable for all electric air taxis, with the added bonus of providing sustainable power to the host building.
What makes the Skyportz system unique is the fact that it will be providing something of value from the moment of installation — the battery pack and solar panels can be hooked in to power the host building, and the vertiport building can be used for other purposes.
Electro.Aero specializes in battery charging and power storage to support electric aviation, and Skyports plans to add more partners for air traffic management systems, weather data, booking services, and aviation operators.
Founded in 2017, Babylon Micro-Farms has developed a software platform called BabylonIQ that remotely manages the network of modular vertical farming systems. The data collection capabilities enhance the experience by tracking production and measuring efficacy. The service includes semi-automated vertical farms, software, and supplies wrapped into a flat monthly fee.
In 2022, Babylon launched the Galleri Micro-Farm — a large $15,000 "wall appliance" designed to grow more than 50 different plant varieties for on-site harvest — which has accelerated adoption with clients ranging from MSC cruise lines to retailers like IKEA, Neiman Marcus, and major food service management clients like Aramark. They currently operate well over 150 locations within the healthcare, education, and corporate dining sectors.
Later that year, the Richmond, Virginia-based startup was awarded Emerging Technology Startup of the Year at the 2022 RVA Tech Awards, while its co-founders — Alexander Olesen and Graham Smith — were listed on Forbes 30 Under 30 for Social Impact.
Back to the Galleri Micro-Farm; it is a self-contained system that is capable of producing up to 24 pounds of leafy greens a month.
In April 2023, Babylon closed an $8 million Series A round of financing led by Venture South with participation from Virginia Venture Partners, Hull Street Capital, and New Theory Ventures, among others. Additionally, at that time, the company was awarded a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The funding was meant to support the company's growth and help new businesses and communities to grow their own food using Babylon's remotely managed vertical farms.
"This investment gives us the resources we need to execute our growth plans serving a range of businesses and communities across North America. We have a fantastic team in place who's worked tirelessly to get the company to where it is today, and it's great to see strong investor support for our fully distributed approach to vertical farming in a tough macro-economic environment," Alexander Olesen, CEO & Co-Founder of Babylon Micro-Farms, said at the time of the funding. "We are demonstrating that growing food on-site is a powerful tool for foodservice operations to source high-quality, fresh ingredients while educating and inspiring their communities to eat healthy food".
According to its creators, there are several advantages to its beams. For starters, they weigh up to 80% less than concrete or metallic beams, which means that no heavy cranes or lorries are needed to carry and install them. Also, they save time and money on labor and materials, and they can be printed and assembled "in situ" — which facilitates their installation anywhere, regardless of how difficult it is to reach. Like that's not enough, recycled plastics are used as the raw material, giving a new life to this product and thus helping move towards more sustainable construction.
The development of these innovative beams is the result of almost three years of research. "Our goal was to propose an alternative to the current reinforced concrete beams. These are made using profiles built for the length of the piece, which requires the expensive installation and are hard to transport," says José Ramón Albiol, lecturer at the Higher Technical School of Construction Engineering (ETSIE) of the Polytechnic University of Valencia.
Following numerous hours of tests and trials, the combination of 3D printing, plastics and concrete provide optimum results.
The main novelty here is in the polymeric profile of the beam, which is composed of multiple longitudinal segments that can be assembled and concreted where you wish to install the structure. The beam is reinforced with elements that ensure the structure's rigidity and which have no metallic component.
"This prevents corrosion, decreases the weight and simplifies the work time required," adds Xavier Mas, from the Institute for Heritage Restoration (IRP) of the Polytechnic University of Valencia.
The system also removes the need for costly formwork and bending, making it possible to work without having to stop traffic at the infrastructure that is being worked on.
Plus, the internal (alveolar) structure of the polymeric profiles makes it possible to decrease the amount of plastic used — and therefore its weight — while maintaining structural rigidity.
This alveolar structure was inspired by human bones around the epiphysis, where there is a layer of cancellous bone with a trabecular disposition — the alveolar structure — and a thicker external layer of compact bone. "This is what we have transferred to these revolutionary beams, specifically to their profiles. It is a very intelligent natural system and its reproduction in these beams awards them, with the low structural weight, very high mechanical capabilities," adds José Ramón Albiol.
3D printing makes it possible to manufacture customized pieces very near the area of implementation, which also simplifies transportation, saves costs and facilitates customization. "To be able to customize the beams in situ makes it possible to adapt the characteristics of each of them to the structural needs at each point of construction. The possibility to recycle polymeric materials to produce the beams significantly decreases their carbon footprint," concludes Miguel Sánchez, from the Department of Systems and Computer Science (DISCA) of the UPV.
These beams can be 3D printed from recycled plastic right on the construction site, saving time and money on transportation. Also, they are up to 80% lighter than concrete or metal beams, which reduces dependence on heavy cranes or trucks to transport and install them. Plus, since they do not contain metal, the risk of corrosion is eliminated.
The team patented their new construction beam design in order to commercialize the technology.
Just three meters long, Clearbot Neo uses a solar battery-powered electric motor to systematically skim the surface and scoops up floating trash, all while relying on AI tech to recognize and log the types of waste it collects and where.
This ingenious machine is designed by computer engineers Sidhant Gupta and Utkarsh Goel; the duo got the inspiration from a trip to the Indonesian vacation island of Bali, where they witnessed local workers take out small boats to remove waste from the waters manually. Soon afterward, they developed a basic aluminum prototype in Bali, followed by a fiberglass version. Then the team collaborated with a gaming hardware brand Razer to redesign its intelligent robots, equipping them with the right tools.
Clearbot Neo can be remotely controlled or operated autonomously, using a LiDAR to avoid obstacles. Its battery provides enough juice to keep it working for up to 4 hours, while its collection capacity is 200 kg (about 440 lb).
Once the floating trash is detected, the robot will scoop it up to feed its onboard conveyor belt, fitted near the bow between its dual hulls and into a holding bin near its stern.
According to the company, the Clearbot can bring in as much as a metric ton of waste per day for recycling or disposal. When fitted with a bespoke boom, it can also tackle localized oil and fuel spills by collecting up to 15 liters of pollutants a day.
Beyond trash, the boat also collects a ton of data using a two-camera detection system. One camera surveys the water's surface so the bot can identify rubbish and avoid marine life, navigational hazards, and other vessels, while the second one photographs each piece of plastic waste that makes its way onto the conveyor. These images are tagged with a GPS location and saved to the company's database hosted on Microsoft's Azure platform for subsequent analysis.
Initial data analysis has found that only 20% to 40% of the marine plastic recovered in Hong Kong cleanup operations can go on to be recycled. Such information, together with variables like sea current and tide information, could help environmentalists and marine authorities to identify the sources of the trash.
"We're finding out how the trash ends up in the water in the first place," says Clearbot Neo's co-creator Sidhant Gupta. "It adds a lot of transparency to the process of marine cleanup. We generate data about what's actually in the water, what's the make-up of the stuff that's there, how much of it is recyclable, and what materials we should be focusing on."
These days, Clearbot Neo creators are scaling up and are looking to have fleets of Clearbot Neos cleaning up and protecting waters around the globe.
Once it detects the floating trash, the robot will scoop it up to feed its onboard conveyor belt, fitted near the bow between its dual hulls and into a holding bin with a collection capacity of 200 kg (about 440 lb).
According to the company, the Clearbot can bring in as much as a metric ton of waste per day for recycling or disposal. When fitted with a bespoke boom, it can also tackle localized oil and fuel spills by collecting up to 15 liters of pollutants a day.
"SEPURA represents a significant step forward in sustainable living. With its advanced technology and user-friendly design, SEPURA offers a simple and effective way to minimize waste and promote a cleaner, healthier environment," said Victor Nicolov, co-founder and CEO of SEPURA. "We are excited to bring consumers the sustainable solution they are seeking and work to improve how food waste impacts the environment moving forward."
With over 3 billion tons of food waste generated each year globally, the need for sustainable waste management solutions has become increasingly urgent. In response, many cities across North America have imposed garbage disposal bans, while several states have made at-home organic waste separation mandatory. This regulatory and consumer shift away from traditional garbage disposals presents a significant opportunity for SEPURA to offer a more sustainable alternative.
By reducing the amount of food waste sent to landfills and converting it into nutrient-rich compost, SEPURA is poised to capitalize on the regulatory and consumer shifts away from garbage disposals and towards a sustainable alternative.
For its effort, the company won the Kickstarter Grand Prize at KBIS 2023, and its product will be available for direct purchase by Summer 2023.
In April 2023, the company raised a $3.7M seed round led by premium kitchen water place brand BLANCO. The proceeds of that funding will go toward rapidly scaling the North American market for SEPURA's waste-separating device "at the velocity consumers are demanding."
At the time of the funding announcement, BLANCO's CEO Frank Gfrörer said that they [BLANCO] believe that SEPURA's technology represents a "substantial advancement in the field of food waste disposal" and that the solution provides the right answer to a "pressing issue of our time."
Called the Community Internet Program, it provides free access to city-owned rooftops to internet service providers (ISPs) who commit to offering reduced- or no-cost internet service to qualifying households in the district. The idea is that the service can be beneficial for households and act as hubs within DC neighborhoods.
Following the announcement, WeLink started developing the neighborhood hubs in Wards 5, 7 and 8, beginning with the Trinidad neighborhood. Households need to be eligible for Biden's Affordable Connectivity Program to qualify.
"We were focused even before the pandemic on bridging the digital divide, but now we know that that work is even more urgent," DC's mayor Muriel Bowser said at the time of the Community Internet Program announcement. "The world has moved online in even bigger ways. In fact, the pandemic fast-tracked that for learning, for jobs-seeking, for health."
WeLink's CTO Lindsey Parker said that affordability from providers would be a priority, adding that all partnering providers will be required to participate in the federal Affordable Connectivity Program. These companies will also be required to provide connections that reach at least 200 megabits-per-second (Mbps) when downloading and uploading.
Together, Parker said, the partners will look to provide the service to every address in DC, beginning with the neighborhoods that need it most.
"We knew that solving for the digital divide in DC was not going to be easy," Parker said. "And the past two years [2020 and 2021] only served to amplify the urgency with which we needed to act, and we also knew that we couldn't solve it once."
As of May 2022, the city had $15 million in federal funds to plan for internet deployment around DC. It will also obtain $100 million over the next five years via the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Parker also co-chairs the Technology Innovation Subcommittee, within the Build Back Better Infrastructure Task Force that Bowser previously created, which oversees how those funds are spent and plans for broadband across the city.
The funds and initiatives offer DC the chance to be more equitable within its tech ecosystem and build inclusion into the city's tech scene while it grows, Parker added.
To be included, firms must agree to participate in the Biden administration's Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and meet speed requirements. Also, participating ISPs would be expected to deliver speeds of at least 200 Mbps.
The initiative was launched in partnership with wireless broadband startup WeLink, which uses existing fiber and small receivers on rooftops to create a mesh network.
In September 2022, C40 announced that it is joining forces with urban investor NREP to launch the Green and Thriving Neighbourhoods programme and support "interdisciplinary approaches that make urban areas more sustainable, equitable and liveable." Specifically, the parties will work on delivering proof of concept for "15-minute city" policies and on implementing neighbourhood pilot projects in at least five cities. Also, they aim to create an international network of practitioners to advise cities.
Other partners included in this project are UN-Habitat and the Pantheon-Sorbonne University's Carlos Moreno.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), compact and resource-efficient cities, with co-location of residences and jobs, mixed land use and good access to public transportation, can help cut urban emissions by around 25%
"The 15-minute city helps to realize an 'ecological society' that urban residents and their leaders strive for. By promoting polycentric urban development and a thriving local lifestyle in every neighbourhood, it can help cities to reduce emissions and pollution from cars while improving quality of life," C40 Executive Director Mark Watts said at the time of the project announcement. "This new programme will empower cities to implement the concept on the ground, and to deliver 'green and thriving neighbourhods' pilot projects."
On a similar note, NREP CEO and Partner Claus Mathisen said: "As much as 60-70% of the world's CO2 emissions come from cities, so the quest for greener urban solutions is urgent. This partnership is an opportunity to shape what a sustainable and equitable city is and to create a blueprint for urban development that will help not only cities to drive ambitious urban policies but also business and other stakeholders to engage and adapt their operational models."
And so did Carlos Moreno, Director of Pantheon-Sorbonne University's ETI Lab: "The 15-minute city framework can help cities to increase sustainability, inclusion and economic equity. The framework can contribute to the deep decarbonisation of cities, and it can be adapted to a variety of contexts."
The vast majority of the world's greenhouse gas emissions come from cities, and especially their built environment and transport systems. As urban populations continue growing, it is urgent to harness a model of low-carbon urban development that is human-scale and thriving.
On the other hand, at the heart of the city lies an opportunity - as urban density can create a greener way of living and a better quality of life through more efficient infrastructure and improved urban planning.
IPCC has stressed the importance of integrated spatial planning, and highlighted the concept of the 15-minute city in which urban life is organized so that people can access all the services they need within their immediate vicinity, and where it's easy to walk or bike to work and stores.
The COVID-19 pandemic has galvanized discussions about the city as a system that enables residents to live more locally and sustainably. It increases the opportunity for multiple "complete neighbourhoods" that cut emissions and improve quality of life in an integrated way.
In this context, neighbourhoods provide a new focus to respond to the urgency of the global climate agenda. The neighbourhood provides an ideal scale for equitable and sustainable recovery and an opportunity to develop replicable, people-centered and net-zero approaches that can be deployed city-wide and beyond.
Also, neighbourhoods are sufficiently large to aggregate the interrelated elements that compose a city, yet small enough for tangible changes to be achieved in a relatively short period. Acting as "innovation labs," neighbourhood projects can pioneer new policy, trial innovative partnership arrangements, consider creative ways to increase resident participation and test new technologies or solutions.
NREP adds know-how and experience from some of the world's most sustainable large-scale development projects, including Copenhagen's UN17 Village and Nordhavn, which has been designed around the principles of the 15-minute city. The partnership between C40 and NREP will empower cities around the world to implement ambitious net-zero "15-minute city" neighbourhoods. It will develop integrated climate actions at the neighbourhood scale that can be applied in both new and existing neighbourhoods.
The parties included in this effort include the global network of mayors C40 Cities, urban investor NREP, UN-Habitat, and the Pantheon-Sorbonne University's Carlos Moreno.
It is estimated that compact and resource-efficient cities, with co-location of residences and jobs, mixed land use, and good access to public transportation, can help cut urban emissions by around 25%.
The best part is that the tool comes included with ClearGov's platform, though the company's CEO, Chris Bullock, said they "reserve the right" to charge for it in the future.
ClearGov has nearly 1,000 clients for which it can tap into past data and current figures to come up with future estimates.
"ClearGov's FirstDraft feature uses advanced AI to generate an initial pass at several key sections of an agency's budget book based on data that is fed automatically by the ClearGov budget cycle management platform," Bullock said. "It is well-suited for fact-based content, such as explaining financial trends and changes. And, with a good starting point, Finance Directors or Budget Managers can quickly and easily edit the content to provide finer and more qualitative details in a fraction of the time it would have otherwise taken."
According to Bullock, the training data used by FirstDraft so far spans three years, adding that ongoing feedback from clients could eventually lead to more years of data being included.
The included narratives can come in especially handy, as they put figures into context to help sell the budget to elected officials and citizens. This part, Bullock claims, is where AI gets a chance to shine.
"ChatGPT is great at writing a history of a city," he said.
Municipalities participating in the beta testing of FirstDraft reported saving up to 25 percent of the time, or up to hundreds of hours.
Of course, tools like these are not meant to replace human input in budgeting or to put software in charge of how taxpayer money is spent. Instead, they are designed to make the process more efficient, especially when building a first draft of the budget.
That said, we should expect more AI participation in local and state governments.
"I believe this is the biggest tech innovation since the Internet," Bullock said about AI in general.
ClearGov is a venture-backed firm that has raised $25.2M from investors, including RiverPark Ventures, LaunchCapital, Gutbrain Ventures, Frontier Growth, Hub Angels Investment Group, and Kepha Partners.
Called FirstDraft, the feature is made to reduce the time it takes for local governments to compose annual budget books. The functionality sources financial content from the agency's budget and automatically authors a clear and professionally written draft of key sections of the budget book.
In other words, the tool — which is basically a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) for forest management — enables land managers to plan, prioritize, and execute fire prevention and forest health projects in months rather than years — including thinning hazardous timber, clearing fuels from roadsides, and conducting prescribed burns.
"We are facing concurrent, intertwined climate, wildfire, biodiversity, water, and health crises that cross jurisdictions and affect each and every one of us. Our future depends on how quickly we adapt, cooperate, and take action. With Land Tender, we can harness the best science, technology, and data to protect and restore forests and mitigate risk, quickly and at scale," said Vibrant Planet CEO and Land Tender's founder Allison Wolff, an early leader at Netflix and advisor to eBay, Google, Facebook, Drawdown, Conservation International, and other organizations on vision, strategy, culture change, and user-experience design over the past two decades.
Land Tender kicked off with a partnership with the Tahoe Fund, a nonprofit, and the California Tahoe Conservancy — helping land managers and owners, fire districts, scientists, local NGOs, and other stakeholders update Lake Tahoe's community wildfire protection and forest health plan for the entirety of the lake's 500-square-mile watershed basin. Simultaneously, a second partnership with the Truckee River Watershed Council created a comprehensive fire management plan for Lake Tahoe's outlet, the Middle Truckee River Watershed, which serves as the main water source for the City of Reno and the Paiute Tribe in Northern Nevada.
"The Caldor Fire made it into the Lake Tahoe Basin, and we narrowly averted catastrophe, in part because of proactive fire prevention and forest health projects," Tahoe Fund CEO Amy Berry said at the time of the Land Tender announcement. "Land Tender is a unique tool that can help communities like ours dramatically speed up the timeline of critical forest management projects — some of which have previously taken up to 10 years to plan and execute. This is exactly the type of project we started our 'Smartest Forest Fund' to help accomplish."
In the last few years, we were witnessing intense, destructive, and costly wildfires driven by unnaturally dense forests, expanded development in fire-prone areas, and climate change — which has dried out vegetation, extended the fire season, and led to pest outbreaks that have killed millions of trees across the western U.S. In 2020 in California alone, wildfires resulted in the following:
- $3-4 trillion in ecosystem benefit losses at today's market valuation, including carbon emissions and loss of carbon sequestration, water quality, recreation, and wood products;
- $63 billion in public health impacts;
- $2.3 billion in fire suppression costs; and
- 20 years of lost profitability for the insurance industry due to structural damage and loss.
Even as these cross-jurisdictional fire threats and costs escalate, land management planning and practices have remained largely the same — siloed, paper-based, and slow — with projects often taking up to 10 years to plan and execute. As governments and land managers scramble to adapt, Land Tender is a solid option to help catalyze a swift shift to proactive, technology-driven land management, backed by the best data and science, to reduce wildfire risks, restore watersheds, and protect habitat and biodiversity.
With Land Tender, parties across jurisdictions can collaborate and rapidly assess the current resilience of, and risk to, landscapes and communities, create and compare treatment scenarios at any scale, and make informed, ready-to-implement decisions in near real-time. This planning is done by utilizing high-resolution, three-dimensional datasets — including satellite imagery and aerial Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology — coupled with best-in-class infrastructure data to identify key inputs such as homes and utility infrastructure. Remote sensing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence also enable land managers to continuously monitor project progress, shift priorities and resources based on evolving conditions and threats, and gain insights on effective land management techniques to build community and wildland resilience.
Land Tender was designed with significant input from land managers, emergency responders, scientists, NGOs, and local and regional policy and decision-makers and built by a team of seasoned technology, ecology, and forest management leaders. It was first piloted in 2019 in collaboration with the North Yuba Forest Partnership to help bolster the resilience of a 275,000-acre, fire-prone watershed that serves as a key tributary to the Sacramento River Delta. The project, financed by Blue Forest's Forest Resilience Bond, helped multiple landowners and collaborators assess current conditions and risks, define forest health and community protection objectives, and develop science- and data-informed treatment plans that the Yuba Water Agency and other funders could support.
Land Tender will generate a continuous pipeline of forest health and wildfire mitigation projects across the western U.S., supporting the development of a workforce of thousands to safeguard communities and restore western landscapes.
Vibrant Planet was started with $8 million in initial venture capital and philanthropic support from investors such as Earthshot Ventures, Facebook's chief product officer Chris Cox, Netflix's former chief product officer Neil Hunt, Elemental Excelerator, The Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust, Halogen Ventures, and several private family foundations.
In June 2022, the company raised a $17 million seed round, adding more investors to the mix — including Ecosystem Integrity Fund (round lead), Valia Ventures, Cisco Foundation, and Day One Ventures, among others.
Within the platform, users can prioritize their objectives, like fire risk, endangered species conservation, or water quality. They can then run analyses to determine how different landscape treatments will affect their priorities.
Land Tender was designed with significant input from land managers, emergency responders, scientists, NGOs, and local and regional policy and decision-makers and built by a team of seasoned technology, ecology, and forest management leaders.
German company Naturawall has come up with a green and easy-to-install solution to create walls for blocking external noises such as traffic and construction sounds. Its walls are available for public, private, and commercial use and have a sound-insulation value of up to 67 dB — which is comparable to a 50 cm thick concrete wall.
Each wall consists of a durable, galvanized steel sheet that — when filled with soil — gains a lot of mass used to block and absorb noise. The system can be planted with local and typical plants as well as usual garden plants, and even vegetables are also possible.
According to Naturawall, the main requirement for these walls is to have leveled ground. Then, after the installation, a species-rich biotope develops within a short time — offering absorption of noise, wind, and dirt. In fact, Naturawall effectively doubles as a new habitat for birds, bees, butterflies, lizards, and other living beings.
Also worth noting is that Naturawalls are recyclable, require up to 80% less space than a conventional wall, and do not require expensive investments in foundations and ground anchoring. What's more, these are some solid constructions that are said to be resistant to extreme weather conditions, giving them a long lifespan.
In addition to building the walls, the company also offers advice to its prospecting customers on plant selection, positions of the wall, and more.
Requiring less material than traditional concrete walls, Naturawalls provide protection from sound pollution and additional habitats for animals and insects. The barriers are available for public, private, and commercial use, and the company provides guidance on planting hardy, native plant species.
The barriers require a flattened area of ground and are then filled with soil. Plants can be added over time, and customizable features make the walls easy to adapt to a variety of locations and sizes.
And, should a wall no longer be needed, the steel it is made from is recyclable.
Peerby started in Amsterdam, where 1 in 4 households is already a member. From there, they started expanding to other Dutch cities as well as to Belgium.
In May 2022, the company raised €2.3 million in funding from Toronto-based tech and impact fund Loyal, the Dutch impact investor Shamrock Ventures, and existing shareholders, including hundreds of crowdfunders.
Peerby makes money by selling memberships to borrowers. Its revenue grew by 222% in 2021 and 200% in 2020, with supporters inviting their neighbors to join Peerby's digital neighborhood sharing shed — which is now filled with over half a million shared products.
Also, 900 crowdfunders — who provided the company with a loan five years ago — were given the opportunity to convert their loan into shares as a result of the investment. A vast majority opted for conversion, and 40% percent of them even decided to buy additional shares.
Research by Milieu Centraal, a Dutch environmental research institute, concluded that consumers could reduce their climate impact by more than 25% by making circular choices, such as sharing and borrowing.
"The support from members, crowdfunders and professional investors confirms that everyone is eager for an alternative to today's hyperconsumption," Daan Weddepohl, the founder and CEO of Peerby, said at the time of the funding announcement. "We've always had social and ecological impact and the challenge was to become financially sustainable. Now that we have achieved profitability, the time is ripe to make neighborhood sharing mainstream."
As of May 2022, the company claims that its services have helped communities to save 42 million kilograms of carbon dioxide and 833,000 kilograms of waste.
As of May 2022, the company claims that its services have helped communities to save 42 million kilograms of carbon dioxide and 833,000 kilograms of waste.
In July 2022, the company announced UbiHub AP6, a triband Wi-Fi 6 Access Point that enables communities to enable public Wi-Fi. The platform integrates PoE, making it easy to support third-party equipment such as cameras and license plate readers. Also, at that time, they unveiled the UbiHub AP/AI, which adds dual 4K cameras, directional microphones, and a neural AI processor to the mix. The last mentioned is meant for street analytics and 15 days of video storage.
Both UbiHub solutions are compatible with more than 360 million streetlights worldwide and can be installed in seconds plugging into the existing streetlight photocell socket.
The idea to integrate multiple functions into one easy-to-install platform is sound, and according to Northeast Group - this approach reduces the total cost of ownership by 42% when compared to conventional multi-vendor solutions.
"Our UbiHub is the 'Swiss Army Knife' of intelligent infrastructure for cities and utilities," Ian Aaron, CEO of Ubicquia, said in a press release. "Whether you need to scale the deployment of cameras and license plate readers across multiple vendors or simply expand broadband in commercial areas and parks, UniHub is the only multi-function product in the market that installs in seconds and delivers data in minutes."
UniHub platforms enable cities and law enforcement to cost-effectively scale and transform their existing streetlight infrastructure into a network of connected digital assets. Specifically, the solutions can help:
- Enable faster, evidence-based crime detection, investigation, and deterrence;
- Reduce traffic congestion, improve pedestrian safety and increase bicycle lane utilization;
- Expand city broadband deployments in commercial areas and parks.
Like other Ubicquia products, UniHub is managed and monitored with UbiVu, Ubicquia's cloud visualization and analytics management system. In addition, UbiVu supports APIs that integrate with leading third-party video management systems, evidence clearance platforms, and police real-time crime centers.
The City of West Hollywood in California is among municipalities that have deployed UniHub, and are now collecting all kinds of data for their future planning development needs. Another client is the County of Hawai'i, which is using the solution to enable equitable internet access and close the digital divide throughout Hawai'i Island, and so has the City of Ontario, which deployed 12,500 UbiCells for smart lighting analytics and energy savings.
With more than 360 million street lights globally, these vertical assets are increasingly viewed by cities as critical enablers for new smart city applications, according to Ben Gardner, President of market intelligence firm Northeast Group. "Starting with well proven energy and cost savings derived from intelligent lighting controls, new solutions are now evolving to boost public safety, broadband access and the automation of municipal functions," he added.
Aside from UniHub, Ubicquia also has other products in its portfolio, including UbiCell, which enables smart streetlight control; UbiMetro, a streetlight small cell that accelerates 4G and 5G network deployments; and UbiSmart AQM+, a sensor that monitors a city's air quality index, noise levels, and environmental data.
And unsurprisingly, they have already managed to score some clients among municipalities, including the City of West Hollywood, the County of Hawai'i, and the City of Ontario — all of which have found ways to put UniHub to good use. And chances are, Ubicquia is just getting started.
Acting as one of the latest research and development projects utilizing automotive expertise, Coventry Very Light Rail (CVLR) is part of a bigger £1.3bn travel plan that aims to provide an alternative means of transport and reduce the number of cars on the road — while easing congestion and improving air quality.
To make this happen, Coventry City Council announced in early 2023 that it is working together with Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick, Dudley Council, Transport for West Midlands, and Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation.
The first route has been planned and developed in Coventry to provide an alternative mass transport system for the city, connecting key employment locations and the city center.
CVLR will use a new innovative type of track, which has been designed specifically for use within this project. This new track design is not laid as deep as conventional railway lines — which provides a benefit when it comes to reducing the need to relocate existing utility infrastructure.
Also, CVLR will be battery-powered, thus removing the need for any overhead power cables that can be a costly setback for railway projects.
"CVLR is a critical transport project for the future as it offers rail connectivity at lower cost and with a faster build time than conventional tram systems, as well as giving our citizens yet another clean and green car alternative," said Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA. "That is why we are so committed to funding and delivering the UK's first very light rail system here in the West Midlands. With the system being developed in Dudley ahead of its use in Coventry, very light rail is also fantastic news for our regional economy and is a clear demonstration of how the West Midlands is helping to lead the way on sustainable transport."
CVLR will also be designed to be fully autonomous, operating at a high demand level to provide a "turn-up and go" style service for passengers.
The entire project has been divided into four key areas. First comes the design, construction, and testing of a vehicle prototype. Second is the design, development, and testing of an innovative low-cost modular track. Third is the development of a design and business case for the first route in Coventry. And the fourth is the design, planning, and delivery of an operations and maintenance strategy.
The transport system has been designed with low floors, allowing passengers to embark and disembark from the pavement with ease. The ultimate goal is to provide the city with a frequent, reliable, environmentally friendly transport solution, which will cost a fraction of the cost of a traditional tram that can be found across the UK.
Testing is currently underway on a newly developed test track located at the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre (VLRNIC) in Dudley, which has been solely created for testing the integrated system.
Using lightweight, battery-powered electric vehicles, the Coventry VLR system operates without overhead cables and is designed to require less extensive foundation works, making installation quicker and less expensive while delivering similar environmental benefits.
Much of the new investment will be used to build a real-world demonstration track in Coventry city center and to develop the business case for a fully operational system.
Said technology has been made possible through a few different product types, one of which — called Dancer — is made for night clubs. In this setting, these tiles use the power generated by dancers to produce electricity. The tiles can also light up, a tally of energy produced can be displayed electronically, and other equipment can be hooked up to the tiles. Also, the output from the tiles can be sold back to the grid.
Another variant, called Gamer, is made with children in mind and can act as an outdoor learning assistant. This type of tile is programmed with 12 different games available in three different levels of difficulty. Modules can be used in multiples to create large-scale installations across various locations.
Then there are tiles for public spaces called Walker. These tiles gather both energy and data from pedestrians and can be hooked up with solar panels. The optional display can be used to display ads and brand logos, providing monetization options for municipalities willing to experiment with this sort of energy-generating tech.
One example of this kind of tile installation comes from London, where one shopping mall installed the Walker floor tiles near the entrance.
Energy Floors suggests that each tile, measuring 75x75x20 cm, can produce up to 35 watts of energy which can then be fed into the venue's system. The company believes its solution could make a dent in the upcoming energy transition. Their tiles may not generate all the gigawatts of power we need for this process, but they can help create awareness about renewable energy in exciting ways.
The company's offering includes a few different types of tiles, including Dancer, which is made for the night clubs crowd; children-focused Gamer; and Walker, which is meant to be used for public spaces. All tile types work in a similar way by converting people's kinetic energy into electric energy that can be used in the venue or returned to the grid.
Two pilot projects have been launched - one to detect clogged gutters and another one to service flag windows that have accidentally been left open.
The "windows part" is relying on battery-powered sensors and is connected to the city's network. This allows the staff to see which windows are open online and on mobile devices — meaning they don't need to manually check them at the end of each day.
As a result, the city minimizes the costs of reporting and monitoring from alarm companies, according to Thomas Huldt, business developer and IoT product owner in the City of Helsingborg's digitization department.
Furthermore, the city also saves energy and staff time and helps to prevent vandalism.
In total, it is estimated that 11 schools that are a part of the program are saving around SEK 300,000 ($29,000) per year.
As for the project focused on gutters, it is meant to prevent clogging that can, over time, lead to moisture-damaged facades, which is very costly.
The problem is that it could be difficult to detect problems with gutters as they often sit high up on buildings.
And so a pilot project has been set up, involving three schools, to address this issue. Leakage sensors in the gutters will warn of blockages to minimize inspections and long-term damage.
"We will test whether we can digitally keep track of our gutters and thus more quickly fix them if necessary before the façade and building are damaged," said Daniel Edenström, administrative manager in the property management team.
Like that's not enough, there is also a Helsingborg IoT service that alerts city staff when football fields need to be watered, saving them time and reducing water usage.
There's something every municipality could learn from their Swedish colleagues, don't you agree?
The information came from the journal Waste Management, where a Washington State University research team explored a pretreatment technology, adding an extra step to typical treatments and using oxygen-containing high-pressure steam to break down sewage sludge. They found that this helped convert more than 85% of the organic material to biogas, which can be used to produce electricity or upgraded to renewable natural gas (RNG) for the natural gas grid or local use.
That new pretreatment step improves the anaerobic conversion of sewage sludge at the wastewater treatment facility from the current conversion rate (less than 50%) — they managed to produce 98% more methane overall compared to current practice.
"It was shown to be extremely efficient, and that's very exciting," said Birgitte Ahring, professor at the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, who led the work. "This can be applicable and something we could begin to explore in Washington state. Not wasting waste but using its potential instead has major advantages."
It is estimated that about half of the wastewater treatment plants in the U.S. use anaerobic digestion to reduce sewage sludge. Still, the process — in which microbes break down the waste — is inefficient. The leftover sludge, called biosolids, generally ends up in landfills.
Also, wastewater treatment facilities use large amounts of electricity to clean up municipal wastewater. In small communities, they are often the largest user of electricity.
"If they could make their own electricity or for some of the large plants, make renewable natural gas and add it to the natural gas grid, then they can reduce the use of fossil fuels. Here we are beginning to move into the idea of the circular economy," said Ahring, who is also a faculty member in the Bioproducts, Sciences, and Engineering Laboratory at WSU Tri-cities.
For their study, the WSU research team treated the sludge at high temperature and pressure with oxygen added before the anaerobic digestion process. The small amount of oxygen under high-pressure conditions acts as a catalyst, breaking down the polymers in the material.
The WSU researchers have been studying this pretreatment process for several years, using it to break down straw and woody materials — and were surprised to learn that it can also be applied to the different compositions of sewage sludge, such as lipids and proteins.
"This is not a very high-tech solution," Ahring added. "It's actually a solution that can be useful even at a small scale. The efficiency has to be high, or else you cannot warrant adding the extra costs to the process."
As mentioned, the technology could be particularly helpful for smaller communities, many of which are motivated to reduce waste and their climate impact.
The WSU team is working with Clean-Vantage, a Richland-based clean technology start-up company active in the pretreatment area, as well as with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), which is doing a techno-economic analysis of the new process.
The researchers are now scaling up the work in their pilot facility located at WSU Tri-cities to demonstrate the process further. They are also studying how to efficiently convert biogas to more valuable renewable natural gas by a new bioprocess. This, in turn, could allow rural communities to produce local transportation fuel for fueling their municipal vehicles.
The work was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
The team tested a pretreatment technology, adding an extra step to typical treatments and using oxygen-containing high-pressure steam to break down sewage sludges. Using this method, researchers converted more than 85% of the organic material to biogas, which can be used to produce electricity or upgraded to renewable natural gas (RNG) for the natural gas grid or for local use.
In collaboration with German provider of EV charging infrastructure EnBW, Electreon will be deploying 1 km of Electric Road System (ERS) along a stretch of road, as well as two static charging stations — which are determined based on the bus route and where the bus stops during its operational schedule.
The technology will be deployed in the city of Balingen in two phases. In the first phase, a 400-meter-long route with two static charging stations will be deployed. In the second phase, the electric road will be expanded by another 600 meters. The project will charge an electric bus en route to the city.
This project comes on the heels of a successful pilot of Electreon's technology in the city of Karlsruhe, again in partnership with EnBW. For that pilot, an electrified road was installed at the EnBW training center — powering a local public bus at peak hours. As part of the agreement for this latest project in Balingen, Electreon will receive up to €3.2 million to deploy the dynamic and static wireless charging infrastructure.
"The project in Balingen shows how innovatively and consistently we are promoting e-mobility in Germany. We have a holistic approach and want to make wireless charging technically fit for German public transport. This also includes convincing authorities, energy network operators, bus operators, and the general public of the opportunities," said tDr. Maximilian Arnold, who is overseeing the project at the EnBW research division. "As a leading provider and innovation driver in the field of charging infrastructure, we are pleased to be part of this promising project with partners such as Electreon, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology."
"The aim of this project is not only to open up wireless charging to the public in Germany," added Dr. Andreas Wendt, CEO of Electreon Germany GmbH. "Other significant aspects include the development and use of a tool that will assist public transportation planners in where to install the inductive infrastructure for a specific town or region. We have already shown in our joint Karlsruhe project with EnBW how effective, safe, and easy to deploy wireless dynamic charging is. We hope this is the start of many more projects on public and private roads in Germany."
Electreon Germany GmbH is a subsidiary of Israel-based Electreon Wireless, which award-winning inductive technology dynamically (while in motion) and statically (while stopped) charges EVs quickly and safely, eliminating range anxiety, lowering total costs of EV ownership, and reducing battery capacity needs. The company works with cities and fleet operators on charging as a service (CaaS) platform that enables cost-effective electrification of public, commercial, and autonomous fleets for smooth and continuous operation.
Previously, we discussed Electreon's smart road technology being tested in Sweden.
As part of the deal, Electreon will be deploying 1 km of the Electric Road System (ERS) along a stretch of road, as well as two static charging stations.
The technology will be deployed in two stages in the city of Balingen. In the first phase, a 400-meter-long route with two static charging stations will be deployed. In the second phase, the electric road will be expanded by another 600 meters. The project will charge a public electric bus en route to the city.
Announced in January 2022, this system incorporates the world's first nailable solar shingle, the Timberline Solar Energy Shingle (ES) — which is assembled at GAF Energy's manufacturing and R&D facility in San Jose, California.
Dubbed to be in a "class of its own," Timberline Solar is reliable, durable, cost-effective, easy to install, and "aesthetically superior." The ES boasts an industry-defying depth of less than a quarter inch and integrates with traditional shingles to create a "sleek and attractive look."
Over five million new roofs are installed on U.S. homes each year. One out of every four roofs comes from GAF, the sister company of GAF Energy and the largest roofing and waterproofing company in North America. With access to GAF's national contractor network, GAF Energy is uniquely positioned to bring residential solar to the mass market, transforming more roofs into solar roofs each year.
"Solar roofs are the future of clean energy, and Timberline Solar is the game-changing innovation that will get us there," said Martin DeBono, president of GAF Energy. "At GAF Energy, we have the capacity to scale this technology like no one else through GAF, bringing an integrated solar product that is weatherproof, affordable, and design-minded to homeowners across the country. We're excited to lead the next generation of clean energy adoption."
In September 2021, Timberline Solar achieved UL's 7103 certification, which authorizes GAF Energy to install the system on residential roofs as a roofing and a solar energy product — making it the first of its kind to be recognized as both. In addition, GAF Energy worked with Sandia National Laboratories, a U.S. Department of Energy research and development lab, to verify the product's strength, durability, and overall market readiness.
The Timberline Solar ES has received three awards from CES, including its highest honor, the Best of Innovation award, for "Smart Cities." The product was also named an Innovation Award honoree in both the "Smart Cities" and "Smart Home" categories.
Beyond CES, the company received more than 20 individual awards and honors, including awards from Green Builder, TIME, Fast Company, Good Housekeeping, Popular Science, and the NAHB.
The shingles are made of a sandwich of glass, polysilicon solar cells, and a top layer of fluorinated alkane ethylene polymer. They are fire and impact-resistant and can even be walked on.
GAFs nailable tiles are also much cheaper than many alternatives, costing about half the cost of the Tesla Solar Roof. It takes around 400 square feet of the tiles to supply a six-kilowatt system — about the same amount of space as a rack-mounted solar panel system. The rest of the roof can then be filled with normal GAF shingles designed to match the solar shingles and give a neat appearance.
The pilot project involves a smartphone app using which citizens can control the city's street lighting, like brightening the lights in a dark storm or dimming them when the days get longer. This isn't only cool in a gimmicky way but could also reduce the city's energy consumption.
The story comes from Bad Hersfeld, the 30,000-population spa town in Germany that has teamed up with [ui!] Urban Lighting Innovations — which constructs and modernizes street lighting systems for smart cities. Other project supporters include Microsoft, Deutsche Bank, and the Berlin Institute of Technology.
The system uses artificial intelligence (AI) and works even without interference from residents, relying on sensors to collect data on traffic, ambient light and weather conditions to adapt the lighting accordingly. For example, lights are dimmed on empty streets, causing less light pollution.
These are all energy-efficient LED lights that have a much longer lifespan than normal streetlights and, with this adaptive use of dimming and brightening, can actually save a city like Bad Hersfeld up to 90% of its energy consumption while significantly reducing its carbon footprint.
This is fairly important because cities are major sources of CO2 emissions, consuming 78% of the world's energy and producing more than 60% of greenhouse gas emissions. Street lighting accounts for the largest energy costs in a public budget of many cities — in European cities, up to 50%.
"Cities need individual, decentralized solutions for street lighting if they want to move to a more sustainable model," explained Lutz Heuser, [ui!] CEO. "Light in public spaces should be energy-efficient, safe for traffic, and it should meet climate protection goals but also the needs of citizens. It can be a challenging proposition, but it's one we set out to meet with Smart-City-as-a-Service."
The project has been awarded the Smart 50 Award by the US-based Smart City organization, and Bad Hersfeld is the only German city — and one out of only two European cities — to receive the award this year. Heuser believes that if every city in Germany followed Bad Hersfeld's lead, the country could achieve the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2050 net-zero target. "It has been proven and it works," he said.
In phase two of the project, the citizens of Bad Hersfeld are taking control of their street lighting. Using a mobile app, they can dim lights that, for example, reflect off wet streets, causing a safety hazard, or shine directly into bedrooms.
Finally, to make this sort of smart lighting available to more cities throughout Europe and elsewhere, [ui!] created the light-as-a-service model. This means that a city can pay for lighting annually for the term of the contract without paying a hefty fee upfront.
The initiative is part of a project with [ui!] Urban Lighting Innovations alongside Deutsche Bank and Microsoft to develop and trial an advanced smart street lighting system for the 30,000-population spa town.
The pilot converted streetlights to LEDs, linking sensors and AI-based controllers to manage the lighting brightness, warmth, and distribution based on factors such as traffic, ambient light, and weather conditions.
Since street lighting accounts for one of the largest energy costs in the public budget of many cities, this is a fairly important project that could (and should) be replicated in other places throughout Europe and elsewhere.
The company offers fancy geothermal heat pump systems that include Wi-Fi-enabled monitoring — creating a smarter, more responsive, and more innovative approach than any other HVAC system on the market.
Also, Dandelion uses smaller, more efficient drills that make one or two deep holes just a few inches wide, rather than the large drill rigs used by its competitors. This approach not only takes up less space and creates less disturbance but also enables more affordable and much faster installations — i.e., days vs. weeks.
The company oversees all stages of geothermal installation, and since all of these steps are done in-house — it can offer all-in-one pricing with no cost surprises as the project is being completed.
And that strategy apparently works, with Dandelion announcing its 1,000th home geothermal installation in October 2022. At that time, the company also shared that its 1,000 installations will reduce carbon emissions by 413,000 tons by 2050, which is like removing 13,000 cars from the road.
Alas, expansions are expensive, and so in November 2022 - Dandelion Energy raised a $70M B1 funding round from investors, including LENX (the corporate venture arm of Lennar), NGP ETP, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, NEA, GV, Collaborative Fund, and Building Ventures.
The company plans to use the funds to continue with an expansion in retrofit and new construction markets. In addition, as heat pumps move into the mainstream, they will use the capital to invest in a broader range of products capable of serving more customers and geographies.
Dandelion Energy is making waves in this market with its modern, incredibly efficient geothermal heating and cooling systems for residential homes — allowing homeowners to replace their existing HVAC or for new builds and renovations to incorporate this technology with ease.
In October 2022, the company celebrated its 1,000th geothermal installation, and a month later - it secured funding for further expansion.
Unlike standard wind turbines that rely on rotating rotor blades and are seldom installed within city limits, Aeromine is motionless. The technology leverages aerodynamics similar to airfoils on a race car to capture and amplify each building's airflow. Requiring just 10 percent of the roof space needed by solar panels, the stationary, silent and durable Aeromine unit generates around-the-clock energy in any weather. Aeromine systems consist of 20-40 units installed on the edge of a building facing the predominant wind direction and will work seamlessly with a building's existing electrical system.
Plus, it can be combined with rooftop solar to generate up to 100% of a building's onsite energy needs, while minimizing the need for energy storage.
"This is a game-changer adding new value to the fast-growing rooftop power generation market, helping corporations meet their resilience and sustainability goals with an untapped distributed renewable energy source," said Aeromine CEO David Asarnow, a veteran of the climate technology industry. "Aeromine's proprietary technology brings the performance of wind energy to the onsite generation market, mitigating legacy constraints posed by spinning wind turbines and less efficient solar panels."
The Aeromine system can utilize a small footprint on a building's roof, providing commercial property owners with an effective new tool in their drive toward energy independence.
Aeromine's patented technology was validated through joint research with Sandia National Laboratories and Texas Tech University. The system is vibration free, silent, and easy to install.
It is also being piloted by BASF Corporation, which tests the Aeromine system at its manufacturing plant in Wyandotte, MI.
Aeromine Technologies' new motionless system can add the power of the wind to pretty much any building without making it look weird. It utilizes a small footprint on a building's roof and can work in combination with solar panels and other installations.
The technology has already been validated through joint research with Sandia National Laboratories and Texas Tech University, and is being piloted by BASF Corporation at its manufacturing plant in Wyandotte, MI.
This is fairly important, with studies estimating that cooling accounts for about 15% of global energy consumption. That demand could be lowered with this window coating, which could block the sun's ultraviolet and near-infrared light — the parts of the solar spectrum that typically pass through the glass to heat an enclosed room. Moreover, energy use could be reduced further if the coating radiates heat from the window's surface at a wavelength that passes through the atmosphere into outer space.
However, the challenge is to design materials that can meet these criteria simultaneously and can also transmit visible light — meaning they don't interfere with the view.
The team used advanced (quantum) computing technology and AI to construct computer models of "transparent radiative cooler" (TRC) consisting of alternating thin layers of common materials like silicon dioxide, silicon nitride, aluminum oxide, or titanium dioxide on a glass base — topped with a film of polydimethylsiloxane. They optimized the type, order, and combination of layers using an iterative approach, producing a coating design that — when fabricated — beat the performance of conventionally designed TRCs in addition to one of the best commercial heat-reduction glasses on the market.
According to researchers, the optimized TRC could potentially reduce cooling energy consumption by 31% in hot, dry cities. They note their findings could be applied to other applications since TRCs could also be used on car and truck windows. Additionally, the group's quantum computing-enabled optimization technique could be used to design other types of composite materials.
The research was conducted with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea and the Notre Dame Center for Research Computing. The research team includes Eungkyu Lee from Kyung Hee University in South Korea and Tengfei Luo, Seongmin Kim, Wenjie Shang, and others from the University of Notre Dame in the U.S.
The international team of researchers has used advanced computing technology and AI to design a transparent window coating that could lower the temperature inside buildings without expending a single watt of energy. This can help reduce power bills and carbon emissions.
The new window coating, called the "transparent radiative cooler" (TRC), radiates heat from the window's surface at a wavelength that passes through the atmosphere into outer space. Also, it is clear enough to let visible light in and not interfere with the view, and can potentially reduce cooling energy consumption by 31% compared with conventional windows.
To tackle this problem, researchers from the University of Technology Sydney have developed new "intelligent compaction" technology, which can be integrated into a road roller to assess in real-time the quality of road base compaction. As a result, it can reduce potholes and maintenance costs, leading to safer and more resilient roads.
Said technology uses an innovative machine-learning technique to process data from a sensor attached to a construction roller. The study was led by Associate Professor Behzad Fatahi, head of geotechnical and transport engineering, together with Professor Hadi Kahbbaz, Dr Di Wu, and Ph.D. student Zhengheng Xu.
"We have developed an advanced computer model that incorporates machine learning and big data from construction sites to predict the stiffness of compacted soil with a high degree of accuracy in a fraction of a second, so roller operators can make adjustments," said Associate Professor Fatahi.
Generally speaking, roads are made up of three or more layers, which are rolled and compacted. The subgrade layer is usually soil, followed by natural materials like crushed rock and then asphalt or concrete on top. The variable nature of soil and moisture conditions can result in under or over-compacted material.
The adopted machine learning method incorporating Gaussian Kernel and Generalised Gegenbauer Kernel functions can reasonably predict the double-layered soil modulus during roller compaction. Researchers conducted additional analyses to observe the proper training size and number of iterations to achieve real-time quality control to be used by site engineers.
"Like Goldilocks, the compaction needs to be 'just right' to provide the correct structural integrity and strength. Over-compaction can break down the material and change its composition, and under-compaction can lead to uneven settlement," added Associate Professor Fatahi. "A well-compacted multi-layer road base provides a stable foundation and increases the capacity of a road to bear heavy loads. Trucks can weigh up to 40 tonnes, so a poor quality base can quickly lead to cracks and weak spots in the asphalt surface."
Researchers have published their paper in the peer-reviewed journal Engineering Structures, suggesting the application of this technology could help build longer-lasting roads that can better withstand severe weather conditions.
Now, the team is looking to test the technology onsite for various ground and roller conditions for road, railway and dam construction projects. Also, they want to explore techniques to measure the density and moisture content of the compacted soil in real time during construction.
A research team from the University of Technology Sydney is tackling that problem with a new "intelligent compaction" technology that integrates into a road roller and can assess in real-time the quality of road base compaction. Improved road construction can reduce potholes and maintenance costs and lead to safer, more resilient roads.
The innovative machine-learning technique processes data from a sensor attached to a construction roller to help build longer-lasting roads that can better withstand severe weather conditions. Researchers are now looking to test the new technology onsite for various ground and roller conditions for road, railway and dam construction projects.
Called Metrolinera, it includes nine modular cabinets for recharging purposes that were placed in the Ciutadella - Vila Olímpica metro station, by the Zoo entrance, which provides access to the platforms at this Line 4 metro station.
Said cabinets act as battery-recharging points thanks to energy recovered from the braking process of metro trains. The efficient use of energy and resources generated by the metro system itself addresses the demand for recharging personal mobility vehicles, which are used by more and more people every day.
Initially, the service was launched for students at the Pompeu Fabra University (building next to the Ciutadella - Vila Olímpica station), who will be able to try it out at no cost. The general public can also access the service, in this case with a discount of 50%.
As of October 24, the promotional service period came to an end and users are able to subscribe at the full price, except for members of the JoTMBé club — who will continue to benefit from a 50% discount.
The entire initiative started as an internal challenge launched by TMBInnova among its workers. Adopting the slogan "Station of the future", the challenge is for different teams of workers to come up with a solution to integrate leisure, connectivity, comfort and interaction at metro stations — improving the user experience for the thousands of people who use the service every day.
Metrolinera was launched as a part of TMB's internal challenge that aims to integrate leisure, connectivity, comfort and interaction at metro stations — thus making for a better experience for TMB users, many of whom have started using e-scooters.
Initially, the service was launched at the Ciutadella - Vila Olímpica metro station, targeting students at the nearby Pompeu Fabra University.
Derq, an award-winning MIT spin-off, is looking to address burning needs in pedestrian and cyclist safety with a novel, AI-based solution. It has already been demonstrated in Florida during the first half of 2022 — in collaboration with Control Technologies, Danlaw, and CēVē.
At that time, Derq showed its ability to prevent collisions between drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists using a variety of approaches — including connected vehicle messages, flashing pedestrian signs, actuating traffic signals, and smartphone alerts. The solution also reports advanced safety insights, helping agencies better understand and improve road safety performance.
Derq's real-time perception and connectivity AI platform ingests and aggregates data from various sources, such as traffic cameras, signal controllers, connected vehicles, smartphone apps, and other cloud-based services.
"Over the years, we've partnered with various leading ITS technology providers across the US and have deployed thousands of intelligent sensor-based solutions," said Pete Ganci, VP at Control Technologies, "the Derq AI Platform is the only one on the market that we have seen capable of powering a fully integrated pedestrian and cyclist safety solution on the market, allowing vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists to communicate with each other and the infrastructure, while also delivering real-time adaptive traffic management and reporting advanced safety analytics, such as pedestrian compliance issues and near-miss reporting."
The Derq solution is able to detect, track, and predict the intent of pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles as they approach crossings in real time through its AI-powered computer vision algorithms. By fusing this detection data with data ingested from traffic signal controllers, connected car messages (C-V2X), and smartphone apps - it can generate real-time alerts and set off decisions to protect pedestrians and cyclists from hazardous conflicts with vehicles.
"Driver, pedestrian, and cyclist safety are paramount to everything we do," said Karl Jeanbart, COO of Derq. "Our proven third-party-tested solution can be deployed immediately to alert drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists about potential hazards in their environment, avoid collisions, and save lives."
During the mentioned demonstration in Florida, several use cases were highlighted, including:
- Placing a call within a traffic signal controller to activate the desired pedestrian phase by utilizing the data generated from the fusion of passive pedestrian detection and a smartphone app.
- Activating flashing pedestrian signs (such as RRFBs) at mid-clock crossings for an approaching pedestrian by utilizing the data generated from the fusion of passive pedestrian detection and a smartphone app.
- Alerting approaching vehicles both audibly and visually of pedestrian or cyclist presence based upon a potential conflict prediction made possible by the broadcasting of C-V2X messages such as Basic Safety Messages (BSM) and Personal Safety Messages (PSM) generated by the fusion of passive pedestrian detection and a smartphone app.
- Alerting pedestrians and cyclists using a smartphone app at crossings of approaching vehicles based upon a potential conflict prediction made possible by the fusion of advanced vehicle detection and C-V2X messages (BSMs) broadcasted by the vehicle.
In addition, the platform also generated an array of real-time safety and traffic insights, such as the detection of traffic violations, pedestrian compliance issues, and road-user conflict (near-miss) data — providing up-to-date, granular data to enable the analysis of safety issues.
For the demonstration, Danlaw provided its RouteLink C-V2X Roadside Unit and AutoLink C-V2X Onboard Unit for this demonstration; while CēVē chipped in with iOS and Android apps that connect drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists to transportation infrastructure. Ultra Engineering and Precision Contracting Services (PCS) also supported the technology team during the demonstration.
Derq, an award-winning MIT spin-off, is looking to tackle this challenge with a novel, AI-based solution. And that solution has been proven to work in a demonstration taking place in Florida during H1 2022. At that time, Derq's tech showed its ability to prevent collisions between drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists using a variety of approaches — including connected vehicle messages, flashing pedestrian signs, actuating traffic signals, and smartphone alerts. The solution also reported advanced safety insights, helping agencies better understand and improve road safety performance.
As of June 2022, Derq had more than 30 customers among local and state governments, with projects of different sizes. The company has offices in Detroit and also in Dubai.
To address these challenges, in May 2020 - Zurich, Switzerland-based Hitachi Energy launched Lumada Inspection Insights, its end-to-end portfolio of digital solutions for the inspection, monitoring, and optimization of critical assets. These are some sophisticated solutions, relying on AI and machine learning (ML) to analyze a wide spectrum of image types, assets and risks.
One of them, Hitachi Vegetation Manager, the company describes as "the first of its kind, closed-loop vegetation resource planning solution that leverages artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of an organization's vegetation job activities and planning efforts."
The solution, which uses algorithms developed at one of the company's R&D centers in Japan, takes images of trees and forests from a variety of sources — including photo, video, and imagery from industry-leading Maxar satellites. By combining the images with climate, ecosystem and cut plan data as well as machine learning algorithms, Hitachi Vegetation Manager provides utilities with grid-wide visibility and better insights so that organizations can optimize decision-making.
"With satellites remotely capturing images and AI analyzing them, we can better optimize and plan for addressing areas of concern," Bryan Friehauf, SVP of enterprise software solutions at Hitachi Energy, told VentureBeat. "This will also reduce the cost and emissions of the management program by minimizing truck and helicopter trips, and ultimately minimize outages and fires caused by vegetation."
According to John Villali, research director at IDC Energy Insights, inspection, planning and monitoring are "among the most critical tasks utilities undertake to maintain grid reliability and resiliency. To that end, Hitachi Energy's solution aims to empower utilities to improve decision making, optimize operations and "as a result, achieve their reliability, safety and sustainability goals."
Overall, the Hitachi Vegetation Manager gives utilities and government agencies a very accurate prognostic on how the vegetation is growing and this is important for anyone who has to manage vegetation around their linear assets. In other words, some cities could use tech like this.
The solution, which uses algorithms developed at one of the company's R&D centers in Japan, takes images of trees and forests from a variety of sources — including photo, video, and imagery from industry-leading Maxar satellites. By combining the images with climate, ecosystem and cut plan data as well as machine learning algorithms, Hitachi Vegetation Manager provides utilities with grid-wide visibility and better insights so that organizations can optimize decision-making and prevent wildfires.
The process starts with a 3D scan of a house, after which Ecoworks makes wood panels of identical shape and scale to be attached to the outside. As a result, even the most inefficient buildings can be turned into net-energy producers.
In that sense, these panels come with built-in solar panels and insulation. They are also reportedly easy to set up, with the company claiming they could be installed in as little as 20 minutes. A full building conversion, including replacing fossil-fuel-powered heat, can be done in a few weeks.
Even the wood these panels use is eco-friendly as it has been harvested only after achieving optimal carbon capture.
In a demonstration, an apartment block from the 1930s that used 450 kilowatt-hours per square meter of space was equipped with Ecoworks panels while the company monitored the changes in energy consumption.
After the installation, it became so inexpensive to heat, cool, and power, that the solar panels on the roof made this a carbon-negative building, whereas before it was listed as one of the least efficient in the whole nation.
Ecoworks is using artificial intelligence to identify the buildings that will be best suited for its technology. And it will have a ton of work ahead, with reports suggesting that in Germany alone - there are 30 million buildings that are in need of renovation over the next five years to meet prescribed climate targets.
The process starts with a 3D scan of an old building after which the digital model is sent to suppliers and a factory, where most of the second skin is prefabricated, including windows, ventilation, and channels for pipes.
The resulting new envelope includes a modular roof with built-in solar panels. Construction workers can install a facade panel at the site in 20 minutes. A full building conversion, including replacing fossil-fuel-powered heat, can be done in a few weeks.
In order to get started, users download the free app, then take a picture through it as they bin litter, anywhere. Each time they do so, they get another entry into the LitterLotto, and more chances to win spot prizes.
The app provides guidelines for photos, requiring the top of the bin, the user's hand and the piece of litter all to be visible in order to be eligible for an entry in the draw. Every single item of rubbish counts, cigarette butts included. Users can also earn extra entries in the draw by recommending friends and family. And if someone a user recommended wins the jackpot, the initial person also wins a prize.
"We have created an app and have started a movement aimed at tackling the UK's litter issue head on. We're encouraging people to take the problem into their own hands and win prizes for their proactivity," said Simon Jacobs, director from LitterLotto (aka "The Lord of Litter"). "I am passionate about making our environment a cleaner place to live. LitterLotto puts the litter problem in the public's hands and incentivises them to make a difference. It's a fantastic concept, and a win-win for everyone, most notably our planet."
In addition to the UK, the app is also available in Ireland where it caught the attention of McDonald's — which decided to partner with LitterLotto as part of its "Keep it Clean" campaign.
Actually, LitterLotto was first tested in Denmark in August 2021, where it was received with overwhelming support and fantastic results — with almost 85% of all the litter binned being picked up from the ground by tens of thousands of users. The hope is that it will have a similar success in the UK and in other markets where it eventually launches.
It is estimated that two million pieces of litter are dropped in the UK every day, which works out as 23 items per second. So an app like this could certainly help, or at least that's what LitterLotto founders think — and also McDonald's which partnered with the app maker to encourage Dubliners to bin litter for rewards.
Once installed on one's phone, the Bower app will incentivize users to recycle and make other sustainable choices. It does that by directly rewarding users with money or coupons when they recycle everyday waste items. Users can scan anything with a barcode, from milk cartons to crisp packets, and receive rewards when they take the packaging to a recycling point — which can also be easily located within the app.
The app's database of recyclable products is built through crowdsourcing, and users are constantly registering new barcodes and recycling points to help grow Bower's reach. Once collected, rewards can be exchanged for coupons, redeemed as money or donated to charity.
Furthermore, Bower — which was co-founded in 2015 by sibling team Suwar Mert (CEO) and Berfin Roza Mert (COO) — also educates the public on waste and plastic pollution.
During 2021, Bower has become one of Sweden's most popular apps, with its 300k users in the Nordic region alone recycling more than 1.4 million packages every month. The idea is to expand to other European markets, starting with the UK.
To that end, Bower has struck partnerships with a few big brands such as consumer giants Nestlé, L'Oréal and Unilever to help them reach their sustainability goals
"Bower's app is about promoting what we can all do, as individuals, to reduce our carbon footprint and live in a more sustainable way," Said Kamjar Hajabdolahi, Founding Partner of blq Invest, which is one of Bower's investors. "This is a mission blq strongly believes in and so we're excited to be part of Bower's international expansion and look forward to supporting them as they expand globally. Meaningful data showing how people tend to recycle is crucial if we want to make sustainability scaleable for all, and bring brands along on that journey."
In addition to blq Invest, the company's other investors include Almi Invest GreenTech, Verdane Foundation, and Orkla Ventures. As of March 2022, Bower has raised €5 million in venture funding.
The app uses crowdsourced data to list local recycling options, and users are encouraged to add to the directory. After scanning and sorting the waste at home, users receive the deposit value of each item directly to their account after confirming drop-off at an approved location. Rewards come in either monetary or coupon form and can be transferred between users, spent, or donated to a charity.
The app is free to download and is already popular in the Nordic region. As of early 2022, the company plans to expand to other European markets, starting with the UK.
In March 2022, a new programme called H2A was launched in Leicester, UK — relying on artificial intelligence to provide more personalized weight loss support for people in a bid to tackle obesity and its related risks. The team is creating a software tool that takes into account factors such as demographics, location, and social and environmental influences. The initiative will also inform wider policies and localized strategies to reduce barriers to healthy lifestyles.
The H2A programme is being delivered by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and Leicester City Council, bringing together experts in AI, sports, psychology, nutrition and social care. It aims to help adults in Leicester, half of which are overweight or obese, as well as children for whom the obesity is higher than national levels.
Specifically, H2A aims to increase the numbers of children taking part in school sports and support the development of neighborhood programmes to encourage more active lifestyles. By analyzing data, the researchers are also looking to find "hidden trends" across Leicester.
"Our vision is to co-create with local communities and stakeholders to make physical activity and a healthy diet easier and promote healthy weight across our local population," said Bertha Ochieng, Professor of Integrated Health and Social Care at DMU and lead for the project. "During the project, we will develop an interactive tool to allow the study to target the areas and communities most in need and support the local public health practitioners' whole systems approach to promoting healthy weight across the lifespan."
The H2A team has access to datasets including health deprivation statistics, pollution levels, physical activity, health authority information, average weight, sports and wellbeing data broken down by postcode and Sports England studies. It includes hundreds of thousands of data points with multitudes of features within them.
The project is at an early stage but it could show trends related to age, employment status, air pollution or consumption of takeaway food, for example. The tool could also inform the placement and promotion of services such as shared bikes.
An AI model that can predict the minimum changes needed in an individual's lifestyle will be incorporated into the digital app and suggest so-called "nudges" to improve one's wellbeing.
The H2A programme is the latest project in DMU's Local+ programme, a joint scheme through which academics become consultants for the authority, applying their own and others' research into key projects.
Called the H2A programme, it is being delivered by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and Leicester City Council, drawing on expertise in not only AI and machine learning - but also sports, psychology and social care.
It aims to increase numbers of children taking part in school sports, develop neighborhood programmes to encourage more active lifestyles and analyze data to find "hidden trends" in the lifestyles of people across Leicester. In that sense, the project team includes representatives from psychology, sport, AI and public health — alongside senior leaders from the university and Leicester City Council.
Norway-based Othalo wants to address both problems at once with its technology that allows for building elements to be made of 100% recycled plastic.
To make that happen, the company has teamed-up with architect Julien De Smedt and the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN Habitat) to launch an initiative called "Housing for ALL: A better Urban Future" with the goal of promoting sustainable, adequate and affordable shelter for all.
Othalo promises to develop its first series of building elements and designs for low-cost homes project starting in Sub-Saharan Africa and expects to start mass production by 2022. The company's founder, Frank Cato Lahti, has been working on developing the patented technology in partnership with experts in SINTEF and University in Tromsø since 2016, and has now partnered with Julien De Smedt and Young Global Leader of World Economic Forum, Silje Vallestad, for this new venture. Smedt, one of the principal architects of the project, expressed his keen desire to come up with new solutions which can incorporate manufacturing and local living.
Othalo's process involves shredding plastic waste and mixing it with other elements, including non-flammable materials. Components are used to build up to four floors, with a home of 60 square meters using eight tons of recycled plastic. A factory with one production line can produce 2,800 housing units annually.
It is estimated that with the amount of plastic waste produced, more than a billion houses can be built. The technology will extend its product line to making features like temperature controlled mobile storage units for food and medicine, refugee shelters, and larger modular buildings (schools, hospitals, etc.). The manufacturing of all Othalo systems is planned to take place onsite, which will also create opportunities for livelihoods for the people living there, in the process.
The 60m2 Othalo houses will use a patented system for the main structure and incorporate around eight tonnes of plastic waste, most of which will be collected from near the building sites.
The homes have been designed to be a low-cost option for sub-Saharan Africa. Eventually, however, the designers hope to build temperature-controlled mobile storage units for food and medicine, as well as refugee shelters and larger modular buildings such as schools and hospitals. The designers hope that the system will allow millions of tonnes of plastic waste to become useful building material.
Thanks to this feat, Marketplace.city — which officially launched in 2017 — has managed to grow relatively quickly and is now being used by more than 200 governments. The list includes giants such as New York City, Los Angeles, London, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Kansas City and Fort Lauderdale — as well as smaller jurisdictions such as Rochester, Mich., and Adams County, Ill.
Such an impressive roster of clients has helped the company raise venture funding worth $1 million, in a round that was led by Network Ventures and Principio Capital.
"There are certain purchases that every city, town, and county around the world need to make, so when a platform like Marketplace.city can bring fragmented data into one location you can have a massive impact across a broad set of customers that are using the same initial data set," Jeff Maters, founder and managing director of Network Ventures, said in March 2021 when the money was raised. "As they make purchases, that new data feeds back into the system to better inform customers downstream. Eventually the data can be prescriptive to help local governments identify gaps and where they should be investing their budget."
Marketplace.city does its magic by aggregating public-sector contracts so that city procurement officials can learn about prospective vendors' past business with other municipalities and helps cities and vendors connect with each other.
"Increasingly, technology investments are made outside of traditional Information Technology departments as contactless services, public health, public works and public safety are joining the digital economy," said Chris Foreman, Marketplace.city's CEO. "This shift has been accelerated by COVID-19 and social justice calls for greater transparency and accountability. Local governments find themselves under immense pressure to innovate but lack the data, resources, and time to make informed purchasing decisions, so they turn to us."
The company has received particular attention for its work with the city of Aurora, Ill., nearby its Chicago headquarters. It signed a memorandum of understanding with that city in 2019 to handle its IT procurement. In the statement, Aurora CIO Michael Pegues said the city has successfully used Marketplace.city to purchase technology for Next-Generation 911, cybersecurity and more. It's currently finalizing a body-worn camera purchase as well.
"Previously our projects would take many months if not years to complete, now we are seeing projects complete on average in 100 days, and we are finding better pricing than ever before," Pegues said.
A total of 18 new pedestrian crossings are to have the Green Person Authority technology, which means they are programmed to show a continuous "green person" (walk) signal until traffic approaches, making it easier for people to cross the road. This move will help make the British capital's transport network even more sustainable and support a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The number of journeys made on foot has hugely increased throughout the pandemic, with TfL data from early 2021 showing that 31% of Londoners say they are walking to places where they used to travel by a different mode, and 57% say they now go on more walks for exercise or walk for longer than they did before. At one point in 2020, the number of journeys made on foot increased from 35% of journeys to almost 50%. The new traffic signals will further enable people to travel around London this way.
A number of factors have influenced the signal locations, including high pedestrian flow, proximity to pedestrian destinations such as shopping centers, stations and schools, and suitability of existing technology. TfL continues to identify new locations where Green Person Authority crossings can be introduced, with the aim of increasing their number over the coming years.
TfL has also recently extended its Lane Rental scheme to charge for roadworks on 20 of London's footways. A charge of £350 per day was introduced for works that impact on the busiest areas of pavement in the UK's capital, to minimize disruption to people walking. People walking, particularly those with accessibility needs, can be badly impacted by pavements being dug up, especially at the busiest times.
The Lane Rental scheme allows TfL to charge utility companies and infrastructure providers a daily fee for digging up the busiest sections of London's roads at the busiest times. This encourages companies to plan their works outside of the most sensitive times. All money raised from the scheme is then reinvested in initiatives and innovations designed to reduce the congestion and disruption caused by roadworks across London.
TfL research has also shown that on average people who regularly walk to the high street spend up to 40% more than people who drive.
"Walking has so many benefits - it doesn't just enable us to get from A to B, but also improves our mental and physical health. We know that safety is a key concern for people walking around London, and giving pedestrians priority is a powerful way of putting them first and making it easier to cross London's roads," said Will Norman, London's walking and cycling commissioner. "By combining this with creating extra pavement space and ensuring roadworks are carried out in a way that doesn't disrupt Londoners, we will make our city the world's most walkable and eradicate collisions on our streets."
A total of 18 new pedestrian crossings are to have the Green Person Authority technology, which means they are programmed to show a continuous "green person" (walk) signal until traffic approaches, making it easier for people to cross the road. This move will help make the British capital's transport network even more sustainable and support a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
A number of factors have influenced the signal locations, including high pedestrian flow, proximity to pedestrian destinations such as shopping centers, stations and schools, and suitability of existing technology. TfL continues to identify new locations where Green Person Authority crossings can be introduced, with the aim of increasing their number over the coming years.
Launched last year, the ten-year Forestami project will see 300,000 trees planted each year, with over a quarter of million planted already.
"To this day [end of September 2021] we've planted 281,160 trees," said a spokesperson for Forestami. "The 200 trees at the Supersalone are waiting to be planted in the next few weeks in some specific areas of Milan."
The trees will be planted around the greater metropolitan area of Milan, which includes the city and surrounding towns and villages and has a population of 3.2 million people in an area of 1,575 m2.
The project is thought to be the most ambitious urban greening project in the world.
"It's basically one tree for every inhabitant," said Milanese architect Stefano Boeri, who proposed the project in 2005. "It's one of the most democratic, inclusive and less expensive ways to tackle global warming and it also cleans up the air."
The project is being managed by the Politecnico di Milano, which is identifying locations, choosing species of trees and organizing planting and maintenance.
"The goal is not only about planting, but also it's about creating social environments," Boeri said. "We have invested a lot in the edge of the city. We are working with schools to create public spaces and playgrounds."
As part of his design for the Supersalone fair earlier this month, Boeri installed a "forest" of potted trees at the entrance to the Fiera Milano fairground. Other trees were dotted around the exhibition halls.
The trees will be planted around the city of Milan and in surrounding towns and villages. With a population of 3.2 million people in an area of 1,575 m2, there will be roughly one tree for every inhabitant.
According to Stefano Boeri, who first suggested the project in 2005, the goal is not only about planting, but also about creating social environments.
Built for tourism organization Visit Limburg in the Pijnven nature reserve, the structure is a double circle that is 100 meters in diameter; it gradually rises to a height of 10 meters and is 700 meters long.
This provides for a special 360° experience for the senses that literally takes cyclists into "higher realms" amongst the treetops, before they descend back to the forest floor. In that sense, Cycling Through The Trees is a cycle path that is designed to be in harmony with nature.
The structure also uses Corten steel pillars which are situated at varying intervals of 1, 2 and 3 meters apart to symbolize the straight trunks of the fir trees — ensuring the beautiful fit into the environment.
For the sake of safety, cycling is one-way and there is a subtle wire net with a handrail.
The project was designed and built for tourism organization Visit Limburg in the Pijnven nature reserve in Belgium.
With that in mind, the Dutch startup Squad Mobility created the SQUAD Solar City Car - a two-seater that charges automatically in sunlight and has the option of swappable batteries if its charge is low.
SQUAD is, obviously, small and that helps the drivers more easily navigate the city and park anywhere. In fact, three of these vehicles fit comfortably into a single parking space. Still, SQUAD's aluminum tubular frame and roll cage guarantee safe rides, while real-time vehicle data allows fleet operators to keep an eye on their vehicles from afar.
Moreover, there are sensors inside the vehicle that enable remote diagnosis, such as reports on the operating condition, charge levels, tire pressure, location, cleanliness, damage, and so on. SQUAD will also be equipped with cameras to check the state of the vehicles and their position in the public space, the usage by the customer, and the cause of accidents. For instance, the built-in cameras will offer the possibility for remote control of the vehicle by the operator when the SQUAD is improperly parked or blocking an exit.
Both interior and exterior are easy to clean, and broken parts are easy to replace. Recycled materials are used wherever possible. Components and construction have been optimized, making the SQUAD affordable, while guaranteeing low CAPEX and OPEX for sharing operators.
The included battery has a 100 km (62 miles) range with the mentioned automatic solar charging providing for up to an extra 20 km (12 miles) per day. Squad Mobility points out that, as the average person in Europe drives 12 km per day, this is enough on most days. The top speed is set at 45 km/h (28 mph).
"Cities are looking for zero-emission mobility solutions with a small space footprint," said Robert Hoevers, CEO of Squad Mobility. "We have achieved both. A per capita energy consumption lower than public transport and a space footprint comparable to a bicycle. And all this, while offering the flexibility of personal transport and the comfort of a car."
Looking down the road, Squad Mobility would like to use autonomous technology in fleet management in the city. For example, to move vehicles to places with high demand or more intense sunlight for more efficient use of the integrated solar system.
Called SQUAD, the two-seater vehicle was created for the average person in Europe who drives 12 km per day. It has a range of 100 km (62 miles) with the automatic solar charging providing for up to an extra 20 km (12 miles) per day.
This mini-car is easy to maintain both from the inside and the outside. Recycled materials are used wherever possible, while components and construction have been optimized — making the SQUAD affordable and guaranteeing low CAPEX and OPEX for sharing operators.
PolyBloc marks the larger-scale progression of PolyRoom, a prefabricated single-room of 226 square feet unit. Designed to be a room without an established purpose, PolyRoom is inspired by Japanese design concepts, reconfiguring spaces to accommodate inhabitants' needs. Somewhat reminiscent of Lego blocks, PolyRoom modules come with multifunctional furniture — like disappearing beds and foldable storage cabinets — and telescopic rail systems that transition partitions and doors.
The roof of an individual PolyRoom can include outdoor dining and additional plants. When stacked, PolyBloc's collection of balconies and fully integrated irrigation systems bring a neighborhood of nature to life. Plants for each room can be chosen specifically to encourage local insect and bird habitats.
The PolyRoom units can be constructed in bulk and stacked together to form full-sized residential complexes in different cities much quicker than traditional building methods allow. In that sense, PolyBloc has been designed to be a means of "creating adaptive, flexible housing solutions in different contexts, from urban to rural."
PolyRooms are multi-functional spaces with flexible configurations that provide airy, well-lit living arrangements in the form of a studio apartment. Shaped like shipping containers, the long rectangular shapes allow for a range of door and window placements. For instance, Cutwork Studio's design includes a bed that can be lifted during the day to reveal living space below, a table with built-in storage to make it useful for dining and working, and a compact yet comfortable bathroom.
Storage is accommodated throughout each structure, often using sliding doors to reconfigure a space for multiple uses.
One project that could help city officials' efforts comes from CityCoins, which is a new kind of open-source ecosystem that lets cities create their own cryptocurrency — and then allow citizens to support their cities while earning yield in Bitcoin.
On the tech side, CityCoins are powered by Stacks - which is a protocol that enables smart contracts on the Bitcoin network. The community mines to create CityCoins after which STX tokens are forwarded into the smart contract in a given Stacks block.
From that point on, 70% of mining rewards are distributed to people who chose to stack their CityCoins (Stackers) — while the remaining 30% of mining rewards are sent (in STX) to a city's custodied reserve wallet.
The city can claim this and convert their STX to USD whenever they want. And this is the way the city can finance special projects for the benefit of all citizens.
Because a city's tokens are programmable, developers can create almost anything, from a voting app to accessing CityCoins-exclusive spaces.
As of February 2022, CityCoins has been implemented in Miami (MiamiCoin), New York City (NYCCoin) and Austin (AustinCoin) — while Philadelphia is looking to join the scheme in the near future, as well.
New York City, Austing and Miami are already using CityCoins to increase their treasury holdings. Thirty percent of mined STX tokens are sent to the city's wallet then sold for U.S. dollars, which goes directly into the city treasury. Miners retain the rest.
Because a city's tokens are programmable, developers can create almost anything, from a voting app to accessing CityCoins-exclusive spaces.
One such robot, called BeachBot or BB, is designed to pick up cigarette butts on beaches. Designed by two Dutch engineers, Edwin Bos and Martijn Lukaart of TechTics, it looks like a moon rover with added arms to pick up those nasty butts.
Why cigarette butts, you ask? For one thing they look ugly on the beach; and second - they contain microplastics and chemicals harmful to fish and other sea creatures.
Specs wise, Beachbot is 2.5-feet (80 cm) wide, has puffy tires that won't leave tire prints on the sand, and the pair of grasping arms to pick up those toxic butts on the beachfront.
Its key selling point, however, is the AI-enabled software that uses 2 cameras and relies on image-processing algorithms to discern a cigarette butt from people and other beach equipment like flip-flops, towels, and larger chunks of trash.
BeachBot then scoops the cigarette butts up from the sand and disposes of them in an internal bin. Later, people empty that bin into a trash container.
As of July 2021, BeachBot's brain is learning to discern butts of all shapes, sizes, and forms using the Microsoft Trove app. The app connects AI developers with photos sent by contributors to feed the system with images of cigarette butts stuck in the sand. In the future, it may be expanded to scoop up other pieces of trash, as well.
The company is looking to amass upwards of 2,000 images and will pay contributors for their entries.
It is also worth pointing out that BeachBot doesn't do all the work alone. Rather, it has a trove of more miniature robots that are meant to map or scan the beach for cigarette butts before BB goes to work.
BeachBot made its debut at the World Cleanup Day at Scheveningen Beach, when it managed to clean up ten butts in half an hour. That's rather slow, but it's only the start as BB is expected to speed up as it learns. Also, in theory, it can work 24/7 taking the rest only when its battery needs to be charged — after which the beach sweeping can continue.
BeachBot uses artificial intelligence to learn how to better find the strewn filters, even if they're partially buried in the sand. It then scoops these cigarette butts up from the sand and disposes of them in an internal bin. Later, people empty that bin into a trash container.
Rolling atop the sand on four puffy-looking wheels, the beach-cleaning robot uses two onboard cameras to look ahead (to avoid people and objects) and to look down.
The BeachBot is still in early learning via Microsoft's Trove AI system, which helps provide image sets for this kind of machine learning task. Nevertheless, it has already been tested at Scheveningen Beach in the Netherlands.
Grycle is a waste management system that uses AI to manage multiple materials at the same time, recognizing and separating them all in one step. For instance, a plastic bottle will be separated into three different parts — the body of the bottle, the cap and the label — and treated accordingly. The software running Grycle will recognize and sort each of these automatically.
The process starts by shredding all the materials, after which the small parts are put through an electromechanical filter to separate the different components. Then, the spectrometer kicks in, analyzing these small components before depositing them into a bin containing only one type of material. From there, each material is processed into a composite pellet that can easily be reused by different industries to make new materials.
The best part is that the machine itself is powered by solar power (PV) and is compact enough to be portable.
"Grycle is special because in recent years there has been an increased awareness of the need for a radical change in the human relationship with the environment on a global scale," Daniele Pes explained. "However, where everyone was talking about the problem, Grycle has been perceived as a sustainable solution, enabling a change in dramatically reducing human impact. The difference between talking about something and actually doing something is too wide, and we realized that, and did something about it."
Over 2.1 billion tons of unsorted waste is produced globally every year, and by 2050 it is estimated there will be a 70% increase in this global waste mountain. Even worse is the fact that treating solid waste produces 1.6 billion tons of CO2 each year, representing one-fifth of global emissions. Machines like Grycle could help make a dent.
As of January 2022, the project is still in the prototype stage and the company is looking for investors to help scale up and enter the mainstream market.
The machine itself is also eco-friendly, getting its power from PV panels, and is also compact enough to be portable.
With that in mind, architect Peter Kuczia designed a fancy, modular bike path called Solar Veloroute, which is a multifunctional photovoltaic (PV) pathway for bikers and pedestrians. It comprises a PV tunnel structure that serves as a solar canopy for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as a public facility where commuters can enjoy lit pathways at night and charging stations for bicycles or smartphones.
The concept is presented as a partially-enclosed rounded archway, built with superimposed non-reflective glass solar panels, attached to round tube steel purlins. This solar roof is meant to both protect cyclists and pedestrians from the sun, and produce electricity from the sun.
The PV system collects electricity generated by solar energy during the day, which can be used for on-site charging stations and lighting, while the surplus energy can be distributed for additional services. According to Kuczia, just one kilometer of Solar Veloroute structure could provide around 2000 MWh of electricity to power 750 families or to power-up more than 1,000 electric cars that travel 11,000 kilometers per year.
In addition, Kuczia has placed display panels and posters on the sides of the pathway, to — for instance — provide information about the benefits of using solar power on a global scale.
As of the end of 2021, the project has been created for districts in Switzerland and Dubai but can be adapted to any location and climatic zone. The structure is completely adjustable, and the number of rows of panels, the distance between modules, as well as their inclination can be flexibly altered to respond to local conditions.
After gathering solar energy during the day, the panel system lights up at night, providing a well-lit route for pedestrians and cyclists. The system also powers charging stations at multiple locations along the route. With a single kilometer of the pathway capable of generating enough electricity to run 750 homes, there is a significant potential for routes of varying lengths to provide enough surplus energy to sell back to the grid or other individuals and organizations.
As of the end of 2021, the design was in use in Switzerland and Dubai, and we hope to see it in other places as well.
The concept sounds like it could truly revolutionize the construction industry, and the Chinese company's recent feat was meant to emphasize just how disruptive its new system can be. Technically, the building was just assembled on a site in Changsha, by three cranes and a large workforce, as all the components were built in a local Broad Group factory and transported by truck.
The true innovation behind Broad Group's product is the concept of building houses like cars. Everything is produced and assembled at a state-of-the-art factory in Changsha, and then transported to the desired location for assembly.
Built out of the Chinese company's proprietary Bcore steel slabs, the pre-made modular components can be folded into a standard 40ft-high container that can easily be transported by land and sea, just like regular containers.
Once the containers arrive at the desired location, all that is required is an "extremely simple" installation process that involves tightening the modules together to form a building, and connecting the electricity and plumbing.
What's more, the speed is just one of the many qualities of this building; its stainless steel structure is said to be 10 times lighter and 100 times stronger than conventional buildings, and is resistant to "mega earthquakes and typhoons". It's also considerably cheaper to make than traditional structures and carbon steel buildings, thanks in large part to the streamlined production process.
Furthermore, thanks to the 22cm-thick insulation, as well as 3 or 4-pane glass windows, and intelligent heat recovery system, the energy cost of the Living Building is reportedly 1/5 to 1/10 that of traditional buildings.
Broad Group claims Living Building can be used for luxury and public residential structures, as well as skyscrapers up to 200-storeys-high. Thanks to the modular design, the building can be disassembled and moved to new locations easily, and the position and number of walls, doors, windows and balconies can be changed after completion.
Finally, Broad Group claims that the 100% stainless steel structure of its Living Building is over 30 times more corrosion-resistant than carbon steel and has over 1,000 years of service life.
Dubbed Living Building, it was assembled from modular units based around stainless steel slabs. The 40-foot long by 8-foot wide units were transported to the building site with all the electric and internal finishes completed. The container-shaped modules were then lifted into place — one wall of each unit folded down to become a floor plate, while windows and balconies folded out to enclose the spaces.
The resulting structure, Broad Group claims, is 10 times lighter and 100-times stronger than conventional floor plates. The company also adds that the cost is "lower than that of a carbon steel building" and has very low energy consumption.
There is a need for new systems, new products, and new ways of thinking for this underserved community to get a fair shot at wealth and prosperity. And that's what the fintech company called Mobility Capital Finance, Inc. (MoCaFi) is all about - to provide the financial infrastructure for cities to create an equitable government.
That infrastructure includes a multifunctional city card that provides users with access to emergency disbursements, banking for the unbanked, transport, libraries, local discounts and more.
Some of the places where a MoCaFi-enabled program has been implemented include:
- Los Angeles: Sidewalk Vendors received rebate payments from the city of LA through MoCaFi Immediate Response Incentive cards.
- Brooklyn: Bed-Stuy Restoration Corp distributed over $200,000 in COVID relief to eligible families via MoCaFi Immediate Response Incentive Cards.
- Honolulu: Honolulu Immediate Response Incentive Cards issued to 4,000 residents with $500 loaded for purchase at grocery & convenience stores across O'ahu island.
- Newark: Offers MoCaFi Immediate Response Incentive Cards to participants of the city's Universal Basic Income (UBI) program.
- Miami: Back to Work Program issued $250 Immediate Response Incentive Mastercards to eligible residents for financial assistance during COVID-19 pandemic .
- Atlanta: Greater Atlanta Builds Credit delivers Rental Payment assistance and financial coaching to Atlanta families.
- New Orleans: The Crescent City Card Program involves a series of initiatives and products to offer financial inclusion, access to emergency disbursements, incentives to drive economic growth, empower underbanked residents, and provide better access to City services.
In addition to providing credit/debit cards, the company's offering also includes the MoCaFi Bill Pay that lets users add Billers and issue checks to pay them from the app without logging into separate websites or writing physical checks. This is important as rental payments made by check to the landlord are eligible to be reported to Equifax and TransUnion as a way to boost one's credit score with a positive payment history. Rent funds are immediately debited from the user's account and the check is mailed in 1 business day. New payment history is added to the credit profile in 30-45 days.
That infrastructure includes a multifunctional city card that provides users with access to emergency disbursements, banking for the unbanked, transport, libraries, local discounts and more. Said card is already offered or announced in a few places in the United States, including Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Honolulu, Newark, Miami, Atlanta and New Orleans.
Additionally, the company also offers other services, such as MoCaFi Bill Pay that lets users add Billers and issue checks to pay them from the app without logging into separate websites or writing physical checks.
That's what Passport - a Charlotte, North Carolina-based company is all about. It has developed a technology that promises "more efficient streets and sidewalks." That technology comes in the form of an end-to-end digital platform for managing mobile pay parking, digital enforcement and permitting, and mobility management.
Cities trust Passport's platform to provide them with real-time mobility data to make transactions at the curb easy and accessible. In that sense, the solution serves as a" strategic, decision-making system" that provides a single source of truth for data, analytics and insights, and is a tool that can be used to develop, implement and manage policy.
Specifically, Passport's platform:
- Uses one system to manage rules, rates, and restrictions for all parking partners
- Improves customer experience and drives equity with digital payments
- Boosts payment compliance for parking
- Digitizes revenue and reduce hardware costs
- Future proofs for innovation
In addition to providing its clients with the technology, Passport also helps with launch and marketing strategies — which have been derived from launching hundreds of successful apps.
As of December 2021, Passport's platform is used by more than 1,000 cities, universities and agencies — including Chicago, Toronto, Los Angeles, and Miami. Since its founding, the company has processed more than $2 billion in mobility payments.
As of May 2021, Passport has raised more than $200 million in venture funding.
More than 1,000 municipalities in North America use Passport's digital platform as its only end-to-end operating system for managing mobile pay parking, parking enforcement, digital permitting and micro-mobility.
There is a growing potential for using wind power, particularly in city streets. At the same time, however, the harmful anthropogenic influences on our planet are increasing ever more — especially in densely populated areas. A problem that has often been neglected in this context is light pollution. Every year the worldwide amount of artificial light is growing by 6 percent.
Light pollution not only has bad health effects on humans — like causing sleep disorders, depression, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer — but has also a serious impact on flora and fauna. For example, it is estimated that currently in Germany alone around 1.2 billion insects die in one single summer night because of street lighting.
A new kind of street lamp aims to tackle this challenge, It's called PAPILIO and it is reducing the ecological footprint of street lighting many times over by generating electricity with an integrated wind generator while at the same time minimizing light pollution.
A brainchild of German design student Tobias Trübenbacher from the University of the Arts Berlin, PAPILIO features an integrated Savonius rotor for which the wind direction is irrelevant. Due to its diagonal orientation, the rotor works with vertical (natural wind) as well as horizontal air streams (e.g. airflow caused by traffic). A rechargeable battery stores the generated electricity and can thus also bridge periods of calm. This makes it possible to operate PAPILIO completely autonomously without a necessity for expensive underground electricity infrastructure. Alternatively, the product can also be connected to an existing power grid in order to feed surplus energy into the network during strong winds.
In order to minimize light pollution, the product is designed as a "full-cut-off" light, only emitting light downwards. In addition, the street lamp provides an infrared sensor, which only activates the light when it is actually needed. Due to a lower blue component and a warm color temperature of 2800 Kelvin the used light spectrum is less attractive to insects.
PAPILIO is the work of German design student Tobias Trübenbacher from the University of the Arts Berlin who thinks his street lamps could help to illuminate cities without generating carbon emissions along the way.
To tackle this huge problem, Flock Safety developed what it calls a "public safety operating system for cities" to work with private communities and law enforcement to eliminate crime, protect privacy, and mitigate bias.
The company does that by building smart cameras that capture objective evidence and use machine learning to create and deliver unbiased investigative leads to law enforcement. Flock's proprietary devices (cameras) and cloud-based software have been shown to reduce crime by 70% and help police solve more than 185 crimes every day, approaching 1% of all reported U.S. crime. That includes recovering hundreds of illegal weapons, stopping armed robberies, solving homicides, and rescuing kidnapping victims.
It is also worth adding that all Flock Safety products and services are built with privacy-first policies like automatically deleting footage every 30 days by default and never sharing or selling data to third parties. All footage is encrypted and securely stored in the cloud. The cameras are not used for traffic enforcement or immigration enforcement, and there is no facial recognition technology. Flock Safety technology adheres to state and local laws on data retention and user access.
One of Flock's offerings include the Transparency Portal, which is used to encourage open communication and oversight between police and citizens around Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) technology. The first client to deploy it was the Piedmont Police Department in Alameda County, California — which uses it as a hub for the Police Department's ALPR usage, data retention, and access policies.
Flock Safety technology already helps police lower crime rates for neighborhoods, businesses, and police departments in 40 states and more than 1,200 cities across the US. And that, apparently, is just a start with Flock raising a $150M Series D round of funding in July in an effort to reduce crime in the U.S. by 25% in the next three years.
The company's investors include Andreessen Horowitz (Series D lead), Meritech, Bedrock, Matrix Partners, and Initialized.
In July 2021, Flock Safety raised a $150M Series D round led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Meritech, Bedrock, Matrix Partners, and Initialized.
Specifically, Lacuna's software builds digital twins for cities that include all forms of mobility - from delivery to rideshare to drones to regular traffic. City planners and transportation agencies can use these models to monitor the current environment and implement new regulations, as well as run simulations to provide a clearer picture of how certain policies could address congestion, pollution, accessibility and safety. Also, the digital model paves the way for commercial operators to integrate their modern technologies into cities equitably in a way that works for everyone long-term.
To make all this possible and to get more clients, the startup has raised $33.5 million in venture funding, with Series A in July 2021 accounting for almost half of the amount ($16 million). Lacuna's investors include Xplorer Capital Management, Playground Global, JetBlue Technology Ventures and Lauder Partners.
"Our objective is to give cities the tools they need so that they can use their authority to make sure that the users of the public right away are compliant with whatever their policy is," Lacuna's Chairman and CEO Hugh Martin told TechCrunch at the time of the Series A funding announcement.
In Los Angeles, for example, Lacuna built a system to help LA manage its scooter fleets back in 2019.
"Venice Beach was a mess, there were scooters all over the boardwalk and the beach and being thrown in the water," said Martin. "So we helped LA establish a geofence 200 feet off the boardwalk. LA gave scooter operators a two month grace period, but warned them if at the end of those two months, if riders cross that geofence, the city would start lowering the total number of units each operator could have on the streets."
To ensure observance, the city council rewrote the regulatory language for getting a scooter permit, requiring operators to be compliant with the city's mobility data specification program, meaning operators would have to transmit and receive information digitally.
"Now, it's night and day," he said. "The scooters are all lined up 200 feet away from the boardwalk. And what was amazing for the city is that it was just 15 lines of code. They didn't have to put a bunch of officers out, put signs up, write tickets."
In addition to the City of Los Angeles, Lacuna is also working with other metro areas — including the City of Seattle and Miami-Dade County.
City planners and transportation agencies can use these models to monitor the current environment and implement new regulations, as well as run simulations to provide a clearer picture of how certain policies could address congestion, pollution, accessibility and safety. Also, the digital model paves the way for commercial operators to integrate their modern technologies into cities equitably in a way that works for everyone long-term.
Lacuna's clients include the city of Los Angeles, City of Seattle and Miami-Dade County, among others.
Poland-based Airly is on a mission to tackle this huge problem by providing actionable insights about air quality with its AI-driven algorithms that predict air pollution for the next 24 hours with a verifiability of up to 95%. Airly gives customers across the globe an environmental intelligence platform by installing networks of sensors that track all the key pollution markers — particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5, PM10) and gases (NO2, O3, SO2 and CO). Airly's R&D department is also partnering with mobility companies to roll out sensor-equipped cars & scooters to track air quality with even higher resolution.
With 62% of the world's governments sharing no real-time air quality data, Airly provides accurate, ultra-local, predictive data for governments, media and businesses to tackle the issue of air pollution head-on. Airly's platform acts as a warning system for pollution at street level and in real time with greater accuracy and at lower cost for cities and enterprises.
In March 2021, Airly raised a $3.3M funding round to scale its AI-powered air quality platform globally.
"Polluted air is a plague on our health — it's like a pandemic in slow motion. Improving air quality needs to be at the core of the world's post-pandemic rebuild and Airly is the first step to pollution-free cities," Airly CEO and co-founder Wiktor Warchałowski said at the time of the raise.
The company's customers comprise over 600 local governments and cities including Hong Kong, Jakarta, Oslo, Granada, Bucharest, Mongolia, Greece, and Corsica; as well as corporations such as Philips, Virgin, Innogy, PwC, Veolia and Skanska.
Over 600 local governments and cities across Asia and Europe as well as a few corporations already use Airly.
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