Smart City Columbus Ohio

So, Columbus won the $50 million grant from USDOT Smart City Challenge. A city that proposed to bridge the gap between job accessibility, income disparities, and healthcare with the application of intelligent transportation systems (a much more sophisticated solution to tackle its problems in comparison to the other finalists), Columbus will now be getting a grand total of $140 million to herald a transportation-led revolution to bring positive changes into the city’s economy. Congratulations!

In the offing from a transportation systems point of view are AV fleets that would carry people into the various job zones, a multi-platform smartphone app for all their travel needs (including ride-sharing and ride-hailing services), more electric vehicles and charging stations and a plethora of tech services to aid the systems in place. What really stood out was the way in which Columbus convincingly built its story around its infant mortality rate and showed how the said grant would alleviate some of it – something which was not really the focus from its competitors, in hindsight. The USDOT also strongly urged the losing cities to focus on continuing their projects with the help of outside funding sources including philanthropists.

This is now a good time to go back to assess Tampa’s Smart City Proposal that was submitted in February 2016. I feel the city can take inspiration from the exercise to see what we had missed in our focus, and how we could positively contribute and impact on future exercises of such nature.

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Gameday 1: England at the Euros

Gameday 1 of the English involvement at the Euros saw them square off with Russia at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille, France. A lot had been written (as usual) about the team’s chances and one would feel gutted (with a tinge of optimism, still) as an England fan as to how things have turned out tonight.

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[Source: The Guardian]

Roy Hodgson’s decision to go with a 4-3-3 leaving out Jamie Vardy did not really disappoint in terms of personnel on the field, but there were some very England-like errors during the game. Right after taking the lead, Roy took off Wayne Rooney. Now Wayne Rooney is the most polarizing English footballer there ever has been. In his new role at the center of the midfield, Rooney did not really disappoint, you know! He was conducting the play, pinging in some glorious passes into his much quick-footed forwards and getting the odd chance to go inside the opposition box himself.

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Wayne Rooney – vs Russia, Euro 2016. Not bad reading. [Source: Squawka]

And with Rooney, you’d always get that extra bit when the team needs some sorting out in its defense as well. Moments when you have a precarious 1-0 lead, you simply do not find the sense in substituting the second best performer of the day (after the England goal scorer, Eric Dier). And fatigue wasn’t really an issue from what it looked to the naked eye. Anyway, that happened. And England put in Jack Wilshere in his place. There was an expectation that with the game becoming more and more open, England would being in Jamie Vardy to apply the brake on the renewed optimism that Russia seemed to have obtained from nowhere (seriously, they were diabolical for most parts of the game!)

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Russia attacking to the RHS in the 2nd half. Marked difference from their approach in the first (where they attacked to the left), going by their heat map. [Source: Squawka]

What followed however was one more defensive substitution that took the sting out of this English team going forward. In came James Milner for Raheem Sterling, and Vardy – the toast of the Premier League – was still on the bench. What then followed close to the end of play was 10 seconds of madness at the end of which Leonid Slutsky‘s Russia had got what they wanted out of the game – an equalizing goal and a crucial one point. Considering how the Welsh have fared against Slovakia and the other result in Gameday 2 for England’s group, we may still not be completely immune from an embarrassing exit by Wednesday. This shouldn’t have happened. This England team, although having started much better than in their previous major tournaments is still win-less from the opening game of a European Championship. For a team that are touted by the bookmakers to be the fourth favorites to triumph in France (although there’s an interesting side-track to that), today’s 1 point might not please their chances of ending a 50 year drought one bit (although, as most of the English fans would like to think by now, their team was meant to bottle this one too). Let’s just hope things get better against Bale & Co.  

PS: A strong word of disappointment and anguish towards what happened inside the stadium post-match between the two sets of fans. While some of it is the fault of the English fans themselves (we are no saints either), questions really need to be asked about a few other aspects – France’s preparedness in terms of security, the Russian ultras (no need to say anything more!) and the World Cup of 2018 to be held in Russia. We surely don’t want to see incidents like these. And I hope everyone values their life over a game of football.

Reinventing the wheel…the smarter way

Designing Tomorrowland

This very interesting illustration on WaPo caught my attention today. Seven U.S. cities are vying for a $40 million start-up prize from USDOT in order to find solutions to problems that they have by a perfect marriage of automation, climate change, and inequality. Most cities in the world find these elements to be a constantly engaging thorn in their vision for the future. And most of these cities, for no fault of theirs look at tackling these issues on a one-on-one basis. Combining these issues together seems to be something that the DOT is passionate about and these 7 cities have emerged from a bigger list of cities, with a fighting chance to provide innovative solutions to tackle their problems.

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The R1 tram – set to ferry passengers during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. [Source: Daily Mail UK]
I went through all seen of them. Interesting concepts, of course very relevant to their own setting. I wouldn’t want to be the guy who had to pick the winner from these. Although the parameters considered are mentioned in this article on Geekwire:

The proposals will be judged by how well they mesh with the elements of DOT’s Smart City vision, including urban automation, connected vehicles and sensor-based infrastructure. Other factors could touch on user-focused mobility and shared-transportation services, such as Uber, Lyft and Car2Go.

Tampa’s problems somewhat mirror that of Kansas City, presented in the said illustration. HART does not cover much of the Hillsborough county, has issues with reliability and suffers from less than 2% market share. I am really curious to see an accessibility explorer for the Tampa Bay-St.Pete-Clearwater MSA – something on the lines of this in order to get a better grasp or what folks are actually missing here. Light rail has been vehemently opposed earlier, as we know. TBARTA outlines a host of projects in their Vision 2040. We have been a hotbed for failed transportation plans and one wonders what it might mean to get something like this on board in the car-frenzied counties of this MSA. Inspiration is very much around the corner at least.