Copenhagen Picks Billy-Bike Navigation Solution to Pilot the Future

37 companies from around the world have presented solutions for piloting the future of biking in Copenhagen. The winner was announced today at the Copenhagen | Barcelona | Kaohsiung Summit on Service Innovation in Cities by Copenhagen's Health Mayor Ninna Thomsen: a travel plan that displays the most bike-friendly route through town.When more than 36 percent of citizens use their bikes every day to get to work, school or university, Copenhagen also needs a travel plan for cyclists, says the Mayor for Healthcare of Copenhagen, Ninna Thomsen.

Billy Bike was announced today to 20 cities and 50 companies by Health Mayor Ninna Thomsen at the Copenhagen | Barcelona | Kaohsiung Summit on Service Innovation in Cities, as the chosen solution after a 4-month competition. 37 solutions that can improve health, reduce CO2 emissions, and make it easier for citizens to move around the city were submitted from 17 countries in Europe, Asia and North America in response to a call for pilot launched by the City of Copenhagen and Living Labs Global in July.

Astando, the company that first implemented Billy Bike in Stockholm, will now engage in detailed planning meetings to bring the solution to the citizens of Copenhagen for a pilot in 2011. Billy Bike was chosen by a group of evaluators including the City of Copenhagen and the Bicycle Association of Copenhagen. All the world's cities need innovative solutions that make everyday life easier for citizens and call for green choices while allowing for improvements in efficiency of municipal services. There are plenty of companies that develop these solutions, but it is a challenge to get them into service in the city. So we try to push this by bringing together cities and companies together, says Ninna Thomsen.

A product such as Billy Bike has a great potential. For example, we imagine that the home care services in Copenhagen can use it as a tool to get faster and safer around town, just as technology can also be used to help our visually impaired citizens find their way, as they already do in Stockholm today, says Ninna Thomsen.

The Future Bike Call for Pilots has shown that already today many solutions can be found to revolutionise our cities when a city like Copenhagen presents its needs. These are solutions that exist today, helping to reduce the barrier to implementation for cities and opening international opportunities for companies like Astando, that continually invent new urban solutions like Billy Bike affecting the lives of millions of citizens. In the coming months, the pilot will bring this solution to life for the citizens of Copenhagen to build their own opinion and contribute to the future of the city's services.

Random Hacks of Kindness, Courtesy of the World Bank

A man stands on a roof as he awaits rescue in heavy flooding in Taimali, south-eastern Taiwans Taitung county on August 8, 2009 during Typhoon Morakot. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images) Next week the World Bank is teaming up with Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and NASA to put on their first Random Hacks of Kindness Hackathon, a 3 day programming marathon which aims to  develop software solutions for the challenges associated with natural disasters;  150 Programmers will work with disaster relief experts to identify problems and possible solutions for those living and working in natural disaster environments, taking into account the perspective of victims as well as first responders. 

Water flows past a severely eroded embankment near a damaged bridge that previously linked Pingtung and Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan on August 9, 2009. (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)

I was in Taipei in August when Typhoon Morakat ripped through southern Taiwan, bringing unpredicted levels of rainfall with deadly effects.  The federal government failed to anticipate the Morakat's threat and was unequipped to respond accordingly.  Consequently, local communities, disaster victims themselves, were the first to respond the event, using limited bootstrapped technologies if any.

No doubt these solutions will be interesting for Taiwan as well as other communities plagued by natural disasters.  If you are interested in suggesting a subject matter expert or a developer or a specific aspect of the challenge, please follow this link. The Hackathon will take place in Moutain View, California on the 11th and 12th of November.

Recap: Thoughts on Mobility from Dominique Laousse, INTA33, Koahsiung, Taiwan

Dominique Laousse held court at during his master class on perspectives in sustainable transport on the first day of INTA's 4 day conference in Taiwan, unleashing a spirited 90 minute monologue on emotional mobility and intelligent transportation that remains a highpoint of the conference:  an admittedly unscientific poll showed that for many INTA33 attendees, Laousse's ode to transport was among their top three favorite seminars.

With over 15 years under his belt at RATP, Laousse currently serves as one of the chief ideas man for a company that hosts some 75,000 employees globally, 45,000 in France-In the Paris area alone, RATP operates one of the world’s largest multi-nodal systems, which carries 10 million people per day--As such, his whims and considerations become fodder for future initiatives that can affect millions.

In Laousse's company, I think we all felt a little compelled to reconsider the way in which we understand transportation and commuting.  Raised in Chicago riding the old L trains in the loop, public transport for me is about bracing or holding one's breath, getting from point A to point B, and never about the in between.

Laousse, quite convincingly, argues that in order for us to live sustainably, our experience taking public transportation must change.  Taking trains must become tantamount to going to the grocery or sitting down at your desk, it must be comfortable and easy and the time must be spent in an accessibly productive manner.  In some ways, this is nothing new.  We've heard about chronic commuters before.  And, the 21st century is an era of multi-tasking.

Laousse distinguishes his position by lobbying for simple solutions and ubiquitous technologies, fundamentally advocating for affordable modifications and additions that change our everyday experiences.

These solutions can be as simple as signage, or making maps more accessible, conducting mobility workshops for the community and awarding diplomas for graduates.  To the latter, Laousse points out, in a world in which 30% of people in the developed countries are functionally illiterate, it is important to use multiple channels to communicate how transportation systems work.  A commuter that can get to point A, B, and C utilizes multiple nodes in the transportation system and interchanging these nodes, is empowered.  An empowered commuter is probably a happier commuter.

Reader's Note: This is one in a series that looks at more emotional, more intuitively intelligent approaches to public transportation.  Stay tuned for future reports about transportation with the ideas man Dominique Laousse.

More Garbage Collection

Here's an addendum to the previous trash post, take a look at this paper co-authored by Hai-Lang Yang of Iowa State University and Robert Innes of the University of Arizona in the Journal of Environmental and Resource Economics in 2007----In an accessible manner, the paper gets at three of the policies that have driven Taiwan's aggressive waste management program, namely, unit-pricing in Taipei, mandatory recycling in Kaohsiung, and a federally mandated plastic bag chare.  Although the paper is slightly outdated, it gives a worthwhile overview of the collective impact of policy initiatives and their impacts on behavior as indicated by the following metrics:  total waste, total recycling, and the recycling of four specific materials, all measured by weight per capita.

Conference Season: Takeaways from Conferences, Congresses and Seminars in Asia

For the last month, Living Labs Global has turned to conferences as an opportunity to engage new audiences, learn about the diversity of urban challenges and identify worthwhile solutions.  Here is my top-five conference take-away of at times provocative and challenging statements.We joined the gathering of CIOs from cities around the world at the soon-to-be-inaugurated World E-Government’s World Cities Conference in Seoul , INTA’s 33rd World Congress in Taiwan on Innovation in Urban Development (Kaohsiung and Taipei respectively) and the Institute for Information Industry’s 2009 International Seminar on ICT Utilisation for Regional Revitalisation just 10 days ago. Living Labs Global partnered with both INTA and the Institute for Information Industry to develop the concepts for these events and conduct lectures, workshops and visioning seminars on urban service development.

Each of these conferences  had some truly provocative moments. Here is a loose top-five conference takeaway; I will elaborate in later posts:

1. Larry Barth, Professor of Architecture at the Architecture Association and a research collaborator of Living Labs Global in London, commented on the value of the Olympics from an urbanist’s perspective:

‘The Athens Olympics were successful as a land clearing strategy.’

---INTA33 Congress on Urban Development, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, October 2009

2. ‘In developed countries, as much as 33% of the population is functionally illiterate.’

---Domnique Laousse on making cities accessible through meaningful mobility, INTA33  Congress on Urban Development, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, October 2009

3. Ki-Joune Li of Pusan National University talked excitedly about the disconnect between the ubiquity of outdoor GIS and immature indoor GIS.  With funding from the Korean Land Spatialization Group (KLSG), Li and colleagues launched the Indoor Spatial Awareness Project (ISA).  This ambitious project aims to extablish new theories, data models and database management systems for indoor spatial data and subsequent application development.

---Among CIOS from 40 cities around the world at the World Cities CIO Forum, Seoul, South Korea, September 2009

4.  Motoo Kusakabe from the Open City Foundations emphasized the need for innovation in social inclusion iniatives, stretching the scope of public policy to marginalized community; Kusakabe emphasized the social fragmentation of people and their experiences on a neighbourhood to neighbourhood basis, noting that there is no systematic solution.  With Kusakabe’s leadership and a team of 50 programmers, the Open City Foundation has launched several pilot programs in Liverpool, Tokyo and Melbourne which aim to track the well-being and the degree of social exclusion of the population.

---INTA33 Congress on Urban Development, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

5.  'As planners, we must manage change.'

---Michel Sudarskis, Secretary General of INTA, discussing urban and rural innovation and regeneration at the 2009 International Seminar on ICT Utilisation for Regional Revitalisation , Taipei, Taiwan, 2009