Urban Tech News Roundup

The Built Environment

  • MUST READ: The Great American Single Family Home Problem: Building more housing, more densely, could help address a widespread economic challenge. A fight over one lot in Berkeley, Calif., shows how tough that could be.
  • No. 1 Pountry, the famous post-modernist London building known as a testament to financial industry excess, is becoming a WeWork
  • How big tech companies have come to depend upon cities. 
  • A research group is developing specialized robots for construction. The technology aims to automate onsite construction tasks like stacking materials in nonstandard arrangements.
  • The Delta Airlines terminal $4B renovation project at LaGuardia is one of the largest and most watched airport modernization projects in current times. Learn more about it. 
  • Architects are testing mass timber systems for highrise construction. 

Urban Planning

  • Cities are unprepared for the decentralized economy that blockchain technologies will usher in. Dubai is one city that has bucked this trend, running a number of experiments with blockchain and aiming to be the first blockchain powered government. 
  • Elon Musk is competing to build Chicago's express transit loop from the airport to downtown. 
  • Verizon is rolling out 5G broadband services in 5 new markets. The service allows for speeds up to 5X faster than current 4G LTE networks. 
  • Are people missing from all the talk about "smart cities"? People are so focused on open data, automated logistics hubs, flexible infrastructure models, power grid monitoring, and scalable platforms that they forget to mention the impact the tech could have on day to day lives of people. 
  • Cities are rethinking how they utilize the curb in their cities. As rideshare companies and bike lanes compete for space, cities respond. 

Energy and Natural Resources

Transportation & Electric Vehicles

  • GM is launching a fleet of autonomous robo taxis in 2019. The company acquired Cruise Automation in 2016 to gain a toehold in the new industry. 
  • The WSJ provides a fascinating analysis of I-95, arguably the most important interstate highway in the country, that shows where issues lie along the route. 
  • The NYT reports on how e-bikes are becoming the new standard in entry-level transportation. 
  • A California bill would ban gas powered cars by 2040. 
    • Exxon is predicting only 6% of cars will be electric by 2040
  • The chairman of Ford predicted that China will lead the world in the shift to electric vehicles. According to the NYT, the Chinese government "has taken a major role in electric car development and is pushing to dominate the market. Beijing hopes the push will add to its technological know-how, help address its pernicious pollution problems and curb its dependence on oil imports from politically volatile countries."
  • The total cost of owning an electric car is now lower than a gas powered car, according to a report in the Journal of Applied Energy. 

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Charles LaCalleurbantech