How a new model can expand broadband access across communities

City Utilities (CU), Springfield, Missouri’s city-owned electric utility, recently announced plans to expand its fiber optic network to every home in the city and lease excess fiber—on a nonexclusive basis—to the internet service provider (ISP) CenturyLink. CenturyLink, in turn, will offer high-speed fiber broadband services citywide and pay for marketing and customer service costs. This structure between a public utility and a private ISP replicates a model pioneered by Huntsville Utilities and Google Fiber three years ago in Huntsville, Ala.

It’s called the “utility lease model,” and Springfield’s announcement demonstrates that it isn’t just a one-off. There’s reason for optimism that this new approach could start scaling to address both the digital divide and smart city goals in the years to come.

New bus route to connect Columbus, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York

FlixBus USA on March 5 will launch a new bus route between Columbus and New York City, with stops in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Philadelphia. FlixBus USA is the American brand of German mobility company FixBus, which serves 2,500 locations in 30 countries.

The service, which costs about $29.99 to go to from Columbus to New York City and $9.99 to go to a shorter distance to Pittsburgh, says it sets itself apart from other providers because it has free WiFi on board, power outlets at every seat, free on-board entertainment through an app and free carry-on and checked luggage.

Ford hopes you’ll trade some privacy for discounted car insurance

Ford thinks it has a way to make car insurance more appealing: taking advantage of the data available from connected cars. It’s teaming up with Nationwide to introduce its own take on usage-based insurance. If you have one of several 2020 Ford or Lincoln models (like the Mustang you see above), you can sign up for a policy that uses the vehicle’s built-in modem to track your driving habits and adjust your rates accordingly with each renewal. The technology tracks distance, your aggressiveness with pedals, idle time and night driving. You’ll get a better deal if you’re a gentle commuter than a foot-to-the-floor enthusiast, in other words.

The companies are promising discounts of up to 40 percent, although that will likely vary. The insurance is available now in 39 states with notable exceptions like New York and Washington, although it should reach other states “over time.”

The Amazing Ways Goodyear Uses Artificial Intelligence And IoT For Digital Transformation

Regardless if it’s an autonomous, electric, or a traditional vehicle, they all need a solid foundation of the right tire for the specific demands of the vehicle. Goodyear uses internet of things technology in its Eagle 360 Urban tire. The tire is 3D printed with super-elastic polymer and embedded with sensors. These sensors send road and tire data back to the artificial intelligence-enhanced control panel that can then change the tread design to respond to current road conditions on the fly and share info about conditions with the broader network. If the tire tread is damaged, the tire moves the material and begins self-repair.

Goodyear’s intelligent tires are in use on a new pilot program with Redspher, a European transportation and logistics company operating in 19 countries. The fleet benefits from the tire’s ability to monitor and track tire pressure, vehicle data, and road conditions.

Hot car death prevention: Embry-Riddle alum patents device hoped to save lives

An Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University alum and restaurant owner has patented a device to prevent hot car deaths.

The device, called the Child Car Seat Safety System, features a weight sensor that will activate once it detects a child has been placed in their car seat. After the driver gets into the vehicle, the device will connect to their phone through Bluetooth.

In the event that the driver fails to remove the child from the car seat when the driver leaves the vehicle, an alert message will be sent to their smartphone. Should the child remain in the sweltering car, another message will be sent to authorities. Decisions regarding what distance or temperature will trigger the alert have yet to be determined.

This City Was Sick of Tech Disruptors. So It Decided to Become One.

Later that fall, Los Angeles launched an open-source data standard and software system designed to hold sway over these new operators. Known as the “mobility data specification,” or MDS, the platform collects information from discrete vehicle trips in near real time, and lets the city communicate back to operators.

Right now, it’s only being used by “micromobility” companies: In order to keep its sidewalks clear of stray dockless scooters and bikes, L.A. requires operators to send start and stop locations of individual vehicle trips back to City Hall, within five seconds, in addition to the routes they traveled within 24 hours. Eventually, all kinds of current and future transportation forms—from ride-hailing and car-sharing to delivery drones and autonomous vehicles—could fall under the omniscient gaze of the MDS platform.

This self-driving car looks under the road for a safety boost in rain and snow

On Monday, academics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) published research on how to make driverless cars safer, and their method bypasses cameras and LIDAR completely.

The system harnesses existing technologies known as “ground-penetrating radar” (GPR) to send electromagnetic pulses underground. The radar measures the road’s combination of soil, roots, and rock, creating an alternative ‘map’ of the ground’s composition.

The map, made up of underground fingerprints, can help orient a car, no matter the weather conditions.

The team used a GPR system developed at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory called localizing ground-penetrating radar (LGPR). During tests taking place over the course of six months, CSAIL found that the margin of error was roughly an inch off in snow, in comparison to clear weather.

The LGPR actually had more trouble in heavy rain, accounting for a rough margin of error of 5.5 inches.

Montgomery earns two Smart 50 awards for innovation

Montgomery continues to be validated as an emerging city in technology and innovation.

The latest confirmation comes from the Capital City garnering two 2020 Smart 50 Awards from US Ignite and Smart Cities Connect.

Montgomery will be recognized for awards in the Urban Infrastructure and Digital Transformation categories at a ceremony April 6 in Denver.

The Urban Infrastructure was a collaboration with Alabama Power to upgrade more than 22,000 streetlights to energy-efficient LED systems. Montgomery anticipates saving approximately $600,000 in energy costs over the next five years. Moreover, the LED bulbs burn brighter and illuminate a larger area, resulting in fewer dark spots on the road and helping create safer neighborhoods and roadways.

The STAR Watch system uses a network of public and private cameras to fight crime in the Montgomery area. (contributed)
The Digital Transformation nod was for the Montgomery Police Department’s use of STAR Watch, a new police-community technology initiative built around a real-time crime center using camera feeds across the city.

Los Angeles considers plan to let transit riders skip lines at LAX

Dive Brief:
The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to advance exploration of a plan that would give travelers priority at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) security checkpoints?, if they arrive by public transit.

The vote directs Los Angeles World Airports, the authority that oversees LAX, to write a report on the feasibility of establishing such a program. Under the motion from Councilman Bob Blumenfield, the priority entry could apply to people arriving by Metro rail and buses, the LAX Flyaway bus and privately-operated scheduled bus services.

Boston’s Logan International Airport implemented a similar plan in May 2019, and within months ridership on the Logan Express bus from the Back Bay doubled compared to the previous year. Fares for that bus also decreased.

City Tech launches solution to clear up curbside chaos

Dive Brief:
Urban solutions accelerator City Tech Collaborative launched a new curbside management solution in Chicago to help the city develop a better understanding of competing curbside demands.

The new solution will use data on economic activity and curb usage to model curb demand and value for the different groups competing for that space — whether it’s a restaurant delivery service, public transportation, freight providers or personal vehicles. The group will build tools for cities to manage operations at the curb with pricing, data and other technology.

The solution combines technology and analytics abilities from Bosch and HERE Technologies, in addition to modeling support and data from Stantec, Teralytics, SpotHero and Carrier Direct.