Floating Cities

Sustainability Problem: Expanding population and global warming could lead to innovative living areas, one of which is the idea of floating cities. The main idea was fist explored scientifically by Quirk in his book – Seasteading: How Floating Nations Will Restore the Environment, Enrich the Poor, Cure the Sick, and Liberate Humanity From Politicians.

Solution: It is estimated that by 2050, we will need floating cities as a means to sustain life on earth. Its a radicle idea that explores how such a move can “refresh our perspective on civilization” and help us “wipe the slate clean”. It includes:

  • A new architectural design, not only to create buildings and space that can withstand hurricanes; but also to explore the human aspect of interacting with different environments. Think ‘seascrapers’
  • New models of governance will emerge
  • The opportunity for technology innovation to enable data driven environmentally sustainable floating cities is enormous

The non profit Seasteading Institute has recently signed an agreement with the French Polynesia to create a floating city prototype off its shoreline. If all goes according to plan, the first aquatic assemblage of homes, hotels, offices, and restaurants will arrive in 2020.

DeltaSync, the Dutch sustainable engineering firm that will be designing the pilot city, will build on top of floating concrete platforms that can be rearranged as needed.


  • National governments
  • Land developers
  • Engineering designing teams
  • Funding partners
  • Potential residents

Next Steps:

  • Currently there is a village in Canada which is entirely sustainable, and floats on a lake. Its a microcosm of what could be needed to replicate its success.
  • Important to replicate the idea however valuable to use technologies that can assist in achieving the mission
  • Begin first phase of city design

Reference: https://www.whatsorb.com/architecture/the-first-floating-sustainability-city-in-the-world-and-a-mini-one-on-a-lake



Comments on another post: https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/11/06/smart-urban-growth-tackles-mobility-and-electricity-distribution-concurrently/comment-page-1/#comment-1441


Recycled plastic roads

Sustainability Problem: Inefficient roads materials, excessive unused non biodegradable plastics .


KWS, a VolkerWessels company, are working on the development of plastic roads, also known as the PlasticRoad. PlasticRoad is being piloted in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Every component of the PlasticRoad is being designed to make its application completely circular, with the goal of using recycled plastic as much as possible.

The roads have 3 unique features that make it last longer and be more useful.

  1. The roads are modular: It makes the road light and easy to build.
  2. Hollow Design: The roads are hollow beneath, which allows for any situational flooding to sink in. Its usage also includes water storage, transit of cables and pipes, heating roads, generating energy etc.
  3. Sustainable: The recycled plastic makes it a circular product, which uses plastic and repurposes it as material for roads.

Their long range objective is: to ensure 100% circularity in plastic use, makes the road 4 times lighter, last 3 times longer and reduce construction time by 70%.


  • City  government
  • Transport department
  • Citizens
  • Water Authority
  • Disaster relief agencies

Next Steps:

  • Review impact of the new road
  • Apply to newer markets and high potential affected areas
  • Innovate with more applications


References: https://www.plasticroad.eu/en/

Comments for another post: https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/10/30/cities-get-smart-by-prioritizing-mobility/comment-page-1/#comment-1374



Solar Greenhouses

Sustainability Problem:

  • Solar energy has limited useful capacity.
  • Greenhouses are increasing in number for their farming capacity and that growth is not sustainable.


  • Electricity-generating solar greenhouses utilize Wavelength-Selective Photovoltaic Systems (WSPVs), a technology that generates electricity more efficiently and at less cost than traditional photovoltaic systems.
  • These greenhouses are outfitted with transparent roof panels embedded with a bright magenta luminescent dye that absorbs light and transfers energy to narrow photovoltaic strips, where electricity is produced.WSPVs absorb some of the blue and green wavelengths of light but let the rest through, allowing the plants to grow.
  • Plants grow considerably better, quicker and use considerably lesser water than traditional farming methods.
  • WSPV technology was developed by coauthors Sue Carter and Glenn Alers, both professors of physics at UC Santa Cruz, who founded Soliculture in 2012 to bring the technology to market.


  • Greenhouse builders
  • Farmers
  • Local communities
  • Utilities

Next Steps:

  • Experiment with local produce in different regions to check for viability
  • Attempt to scale this technology through quick adoption across diverse markets
  • Take greenhouses off grid completely by adding components of water







Comment on another post:



Sustainability problem: Cities that were designed for a different workforce and technology landscape need to be upgraded to be more efficient, comfortable, safe, human and environment focussed.

They are designing a district in Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront to tackle the challenges of urban growth, working in partnership with the tri-government agency Waterfront Toronto and the local community. This joint venture, called Sidewalk Toronto, aims to make Toronto the global hub for urban innovation.


They are deploying multiple technologies aimed at various segments of urban innovation. Such as:

  • Self-driving technology and digital navigation tools can give rise to a next-generation, point-to-point transit system that complements pedestrian, cycling, and bus or rail options to improve convenience, reduce costs, and enhance street safety.
  • Better data integration, combined with more accessible community hubs that offer a variety of local services, enable a comprehensive approach to social and community services that delivers better outcomes to people at lower cost.
  • At the core of a future city is a layer of digital infrastructure that provides ubiquitous connectivity for all, offers new insights on the urban environment, and encourages creation and collaboration to address local challenges.

And many more.


  • City government
  • District Mayors office
  • Departments of transportation, housing, industry, technology,
  • Citizens
  • Urban designers, planners, technology specialists


Next steps:

For now they have set up 3 main initiatives:

1. Sense: this is a pilot lab focussed on using data driven technology to makeintersections, parks and open spaces more valuable and safe. For instance, tech-enabled signals could slow down vehicle traffic if average car speeds at a given intersection exceeded 20 mph (the threshold at which collisions with pedestrians become more deadly) or if they recorded a high number of near-misses. They could also hold crosswalk signals to leave more time for children, the elderly, or the disabled. If combined with new alert systems, in-car systems, or V2X technology, they could also potentially give drivers a more direct warning of pedestrians or cyclists in the area.

2. Model: This pilot lab explores tools that helps communities build consensus on sustainability, affordability and transportation needs. For instance, When cities tackle transportation problems, they create simulation models in which travelers move about cities: going to work, dropping children off at school, running errands. These simulations are based on theories of traveler behavior developed and tested by academics and practitioners. For example, one theory posits that travelers consider every minute waiting for a bus about twice as annoying as every minute riding on a bus. These theories are tested and calibrated against survey data collected by the Census Bureau and local governments. Once the simulations do an adequate job of replicating what’s happening today, they modify model inputs to simulate what might happen five, 10, or 20 years from now. These inputs may include a new transit service or wider roadways or higher bridge tolls or myriad other policy and planning ideas. The goal is to learn how people may benefit from, or be burdened by, these changes.

3. Host townhall meetings for citizens to share their ambitions, visions and input for their district.

What really dug into my curiously lens was how such an integrated approach to sustainability in cities can be done, particularly in older cities/neighbourhoods.

Also curious about how cities that cannot afford the retrofitting fees that come with this, can still bring about change in perhaps smaller ways but keeping the overall vision in perspective.



Comment on another post: https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/10/25/worlds-first-negative-emissions-plant/comment-page-1/#comment-1277



Can crows be trained for cleaning using technology?

In this piece, they are attempting to train crows in the Netherlands to pick up cigarette filters from the streets in order to keep them clean. However, if successful, it could potentially be applied to any other material, like plastic bags and so on.

Sustainability Problem:

Cleanliness on streets and segregating it for re purposing. With growing cities and population sizes, its an issue being faced by almost every large city in the world today.

In the Netherlands alone, over 6 Billion cigarette filters are thrown around the country. Cigarette filters are made up majorly of fibers which clog sewage systems and do not easily decompose.


Inspired by a TED talk which demonstrated how crows can be trained to connect coins in exchange for food, they decided to apply this principle to clean up cigarette filters. The founders of ‘Crowded Cities’ based in the Netherlands have designed a product called the Crowbar, which essentially delivers some food to a crow once it drops a cigarette filters which is verified by a computerised source with a camera.



  1. First the crows pick it up and drop it in the funnel shaped container below.
  2. The item is recognised with a camera and if its a cigarette filter, the device spits out crow food.
  3. It is their hope that the crow shares his/her experience with others and feed themselves by word of mouth.




  • Founders of the company
  • Department of Sanitation, or its equivalent
  • City Government
  • Recycling centres
  • Cigarrete smokers
  • Crows



  • Although they are yet to put out the product ‘Crowbar’ in the field, they are current testing out their design and optimising it.
  • Building partnerships with the city and recycling centres would be valuable once the device is placed on ground.

As I mentioned earlier, this is an innovative application that can be useful for a variety of items beyond cigarette filters. It is utilising the learning capabilities of crows within a simple reward system and suitable technology.






Comment on another post: https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/10/18/improving-resiliency-of-concrete-structures-with-recycled-tires/comment-page-1/#comment-1220

Farm Uses Seawater and Solar Power to Grow Crops

Sustainability Problem: Combating hunger

Typically technology has focussed on improving what we farm: genetically modified seeds, better adaptability to climate change, etc. This approach hopes to change how we do farming.

About the technology:

Every day, seawater is pumped 2 km (1.24 miles) from the Spencer Gulf to the 20-hectare farm.

The water is then run through a desalination system that produces up to 1 million liters of fresh water every day, which is then used to irrigate 18,000 tomato plants inside a greenhouse.

That desalination system is powered by solar energy. 23,000 mirrors focus sunlight onto a receiver tower 115 meters (377 feet) tall to produce up to 39 megawatts of energy per day.

There is no need for pesticides since the plants are grown in coconut husks and seawater sterilizes the air. Herbicides are also unnecessary as the employees weed the plants by hand


  • Farmers
  • Disributors
  • Suppliers


This is a pilot system for now. Scaling it is a concern.

If successful, this can be a useful model to farm in typically unfarmable regions of the world.









Blockchain for renewable energy

Sustainability Problem:

  • Unreliable centralized grid management or utility system which keeps track of your consumption.
  • Lack of decentralisation of energy
  • Pricing for micro grid energy consumption based on usage


Blockchain allows consumers to produce energy, and to trade it directly with other consumers in a peer-to-peer network.

SolarCoin is a digital currency like bitcoin. The difference with bitcoin is that SolarCoin is not “mined“ by letting a computer work out some computations. It’s mined by producing renewable energy. If your domestic solar panel creates 1 MwH of energy, you receive 1 SolarCoin.

This solarcoin is kept in an online wallet that you can update manually or let it update and earn automatically by, for now, a Smappee energy monitor (soon other energy monitors will follow).

This same wallet can be used for three things:

  1. to store the coins you create with your solar panel,
  2. to receive payments for the energy you sell, and to,
  3. pay for energy you trade with your neighbors.

In fact, you won’t even need to install energy production at your home. It will become perfectly possible to buy a solar panel, install it anywhere and collect SolarCoins.

Another benefit is that the entire transaction remains transparent due to a shared ledger amongst the neighbourhood.


  • Blockchain currency issuing agencies
  • Domestic users of renewable energy smart grid
  • Local public Utilities
  • Solar system installers and manufacturers

Next steps:

  • Siemens has set up a pilot project in Brooklyn where a mini and smart grid for 10 homes early last year, which is due to expand and include a school, hospital and park this year and potentially the entire neighbourhood by 2018.
  • Other companies and entrepreneurs should look at blockchain as a valuable way to share and track utilities.
  • Policy for enabling such technology to take flight so that it can reach scale quickly
  • 1,613,853.5 SolarCoins have been granted so far, in 41 out of 215 countries





Smart Home energy consumption system

Sustainability Problem: 

Citizens in the city have multiple energy consuming appliances which results in peak loads on grids which can be expensive, difficult to maintain and is unsustainable.

Technology Solution: eCoach, Twingz

Using IoT, the technology predicts consumer appliance load and shares it with the energy companies in the area. It also shares analysed data to the consumer itself, so that they are made aware of their energy needs.

Over time this prediction becomes increasingly accurate which helps the energy companies to plan out a needs assessment, it helps the consumers to understand how they can save costs by effectively using their appliances. All of the information is made available in real time over mobile apps.

This is done by attaching the IoT device to the electric meters of the house.


  • Consumers
  • Energy Companies
  • Insurance companies
  • Real estate companies


  • One way is that the start up company Twingz, will send their experts to install the IoT devices, and the app – at your home.
  • Then they work with the local energy companies and sync their databases to share the data.
  • Insights developed are shared via the app to change consumer behaviour


The company Twingz is based out of Austria and has recently received Early stage funding and accelerator support from the StartUp Bootcamp in Amsterdam.

They have a variety of products that supplement this IoT technology.





UNI – vk2384