Smog and Los Angeles

  1. In the last two years, the amount of days where ozone levels have exceeded federal standards is increasing. From 113 days in 2015, to 130 in 2016, and 145 in 2017. Los Angeles already claims some of the worst air quality in the United States, and with the threat of a gradually warming planet, the presence of ozone will only increase. One of the most impactful actions in decreasing ozone would be to minimize emissions from diesel engines, in short, taking diesel trucks of the road and replacing with trucks that use natural gas or electricity. While folks like Elon Musk work on making electric trucks a commercial reality, greater efforts need to be made in incentivizing gas engines over diesel.
  2. When it comes to a city like Los Angeles, the activity of the port and commercial transport on diesel trucks are large targets for emissions reductions. This involves local business and trade departments, automakers, distribution companies, and perhaps a Sustainability and/or Mayor’s Office.
  3. The first step would be to halt the future production of diesel trucks. Local governments could also decrease sales tax on trucks using natural gas or alternative energy, and increase sales tax on the sale of diesel trucks. And the same for the sale of diesel versus natural gas at the pump. Like Paris, LA could prevent trucks with diesel engines from entering city limits, or the ports (by a sort of labeling system).

Southern California smog worsens for second straight year despite reduced emissions

L.A., Long Beach ports adopt plan to slash air pollution and go zero-emissions

The death of diesel: has the one-time wonder fuel become the new asbestos?

Raising the Gas Tax Is No Longer Taboo In Many States

Urging tech companies to invest in their city of residence

  1. Although we may think of tech company headquarters as large campuses in suburban areas, many such organizations set up shop in metropolitan areas, capturing a large section of that area’s workforce, political will, and real estate. Even on the smaller scale, with startups, these offices are overwhelmingly placed in “creative-class” neighborhoods, “accentuating” class divides. Rather than isolating their staff with special services, such companies could consider local investment – consulting with the local DOT to improve public transit, equitably provide benefits to their service staff as they do their “knowledge workers”, and assisting with the supply of affordable housing.
  2. These kinds of progressive initiatives would involve the company itself, municipal transportation and housing departments, civil advocates, local non-profits, consulting companies, and perhaps regional representatives.
  3. The first step would be to take a sort of litmus test, each city is different, so where could a company make the most difference in terms of the funds that they have available and the willingness of a department to accept their external involvement. Next a work plan would need to be prepared, to what extent would the company be involved, will they be a part of the decision making process of service providers, will they be sponsoring any contracts? Finally, how will the company be involved in the longevity and maintenance of this project? Do they continue to have a heavy hand or just slap their name on the final product?

Big Tech Ought to Step Up for Cities, from CityLab

An Investment In Public Transportation Is An Investment In The Future, Cognoscenti

Data Analytic Framework for Broad Use in Cities

  1. New Orleans’ Office of Performance and Accountability has developed a framework that can be modified for a small variety of city oriented projects, populated with data from the Department of Code Enforcement and other agencies. In this article, the success of BlightSTAT, a tool built from this framework that supports New Orleans’ effort to reduce blight is highlighted.
  2. The effort that goes into building such a tool should most likely be managed by a city’s data or performance office, but will then rely on other city office to contribute relevant data that pertains to that office’s specific focus. i.e. water demand and use, coding violations, etc.
  3. I cannot yet figure out whether this framework was built out by New Orleans’ OPA themselves or whether support was provided for it, but first step for a cities equivalent of the OPA to build out their own frameworks, by skilled employees, through consultation, or in partnership with existing frameworks. Followed by identification of the most pressing projects on a city’s to do list – New Orleans seemed to compile a condensed list by requesting project pitches. Finally, support for data inputting, to source the data and properly use the tool. At that point, the relevant city office would be able to make decisions.

One City’s Data-Driven Transformation, Governing Magazine

Data Products,

Unifying payment for shared transport services and public transit

Category: Mobility

Shared modes of transportation, paired with public transit, provide great benefit to cost of living on the individual scale, and to broader issues like air pollution and traffic congestion on a city-wide scale. In an attempt to simplify the use of the multiple services available to city residents, and hopefully provide incentive, these services should consider unifying fare payment systems by using software development kits (SDK).

In the way that Lyft drivers are guided by Waze for navigation, the MTA, citibike, Zipcar, and Lyft, can pool together a resource of funds for in-app purchases of metrocards, subscriptions, or rides.

For the volume of funds a system like this would require, it seems like the financial management would be best housed in a city government entity. The other parties involved would be responsible for app production and maintenance. Together staff members of each service would represent their organization’s interest and be the liaison between the joint venture and the support of their organization.

How can smart cities encourage public transit ridership

Shared Mobility and the Transformation of Public Transit

Interactive maps for highlighting city services

A city can be the best and the worst of humanity, amplified, and the creation of community is not necessarily something that occurs naturally. Recognizing today’s political climate on cities, means understanding that certain communities of residents in your typical city’s population are under direct threat.

One of the best way to combat this threat is to alert these communities to the existing services that are capable of serving and protecting. This article provides an overview of the ways tech advocates are developing apps and programs that can connect the immigrant community to these key services.

One of the first programs mentioned was an interactive map created to showcase the “dozens of services available to the immigrant community, including family health centers, transit options, specialized education organizations, and community ministries.”

The only interactive map I can think of using for the city of New York is the one created by GrowNYC – which shows all of the Greenmarkets in NYC and the specifications of each market. This is a much more targeted service, and one that does need a little bit more work, but I do find it to be an immensely useful tool when coordinating my produce regular and special occasion produce shopping, as well as compost and clothing drop offs.

An interactive map is a fairly basic concept, but it does not seem to be a tool that is widely implemented. The first step towards a smart city is a smart and engaged populace – a community that understands what services its city provides, and where to find them.