Modifying Infrastructure

Eight Cities Announce Winners to Solve Major Urban Challenges at LLGA2011

The cities of Barcelona, Cape Town, Eindhoven, Lagos, San Francisco, Sant Cugat, Stockholm and Taipei announce the winners of the Living Labs Global Award 2011.

The Award presented the major challenges faced by these cities in the coming years, to which 245 companies from 30 countries responded by presenting their solutions. With rapidly growing populations, budget pressures due to the financial crisis and increasing international competition for investment, talent and tourists cities are looking for innovative approaches to remain competitive. Cities represent a major, yet complex market, spending an annual EUR 3.5 trillion in public procurement alone

The cities of Barcelona, Cape Town, Eindhoven, Lagos, San Francisco, Sant Cugat, Stockholm and Taipei have announced eight winning solutions that were selected by 45 international users out of 245 submissions from 30 countries. Winning solutions will now be piloted in the participating cities, to evaluate their impact to meet the challenges.

In a unique global effort, eight cities joined forces with Living Labs Global to present their pressing challenges to the global business and technology community.

Challenges put forward by cities include the need to provide more efficient and sustainable urban services such as lighting using latest LED technologies; to rethink city services in the light of open data and apps developed by interest groups; to overcome media piracy undermining native film industries through digital distribution systems; or the need to provide financing and support to social entrepreneurs in African cities. The winning solutions are:

City of Barcelona: Citysolver, by Bitcarrier

City of Cape Town:  Venture Capital Cultivator Fund, by PoweredbyVC

City of Eindhoven: Integral Solution for Urban Infrastructures (SIIUR), by bdigital

City of Lagos: Eggup | Sell your films while preventing piracy, by Eggup.com

City of San Francisco: Open Data as a Platform for Citizen Service Delivery, by Socrata Inc.

City of Sant Cugat: Smart Parking for Smart Urban Living, by Worldsensing

City of Stockholm: Spotscout, by Spotscout Inc.

City of Taipei: A+ Care: Smart Autonomous TeleHealth Care Service, by Netown

Winners were announced after an international two-round jury process under auspices of Living Labs Global, a non-profit association based in Copenhagen working with 40 cities and 450 companies around the world to promote service innovation in cities.

The Award Ceremony was attended by 200 participants from 20 countries in Stockholm as part of the Stockholm Summit for Service Innovation in Cities.

The Living Labs Global Award 2011 is a unique global process providing full accountability in the evaluation through independent experts. The Award was carried out in partnership with Oracle Corporation, Farglory and supporting organisations from around the world.

About the Living Labs Global Award

Living Labs Global is a non-profit association based in Copenhagen (Denmark), working with 40 cities and 450 companies and research centres in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas with a mission to open the market for service innovation in cities and overcoming key technology, organisation and trade barriers.

The Living Labs Global Award is an annual process over 8 months in which cities present their challenges and provide guidance to the business and technology community on future investment plans and needs. Solution providers respond by submitting existing technologies as entries for evaluation by an international jury.

Follow results and the upcoming Living Labs Global Award 2012 on Twitter. Facts: More than 557,000 local governments provide services to more than 50% of the world’s population with an annual spending of 3.5 Trillion Euros per year. New technologies can radically improve transport and mobility systems, access to finance, media distribution, social services and other key areas of urban life.

Eight Cities Announce Winners to Solve Major Urban Challenges at LLGA2011

The cities of Barcelona, Cape Town, Eindhoven, Lagos, San Francisco, Sant Cugat, Stockholm and Taipei announce the winners of the Living Labs Global Award 2011.

The Award presented the major challenges faced by these cities in the coming years, to which 245 companies from 30 countries responded by presenting their solutions. With rapidly growing populations, budget pressures due to the financial crisis and increasing international competition for investment, talent and tourists cities are looking for innovative approaches to remain competitive. Cities represent a major, yet complex market, spending an annual EUR 3.5 trillion in public procurement alone

The cities of Barcelona, Cape Town, Eindhoven, Lagos, San Francisco, Sant Cugat, Stockholm and Taipei have announced eight winning solutions that were selected by 45 international users out of 245 submissions from 30 countries. Winning solutions will now be piloted in the participating cities, to evaluate their impact to meet the challenges.

In a unique global effort, eight cities joined forces with Living Labs Global to present their pressing challenges to the global business and technology community.

Challenges put forward by cities include the need to provide more efficient and sustainable urban services such as lighting using latest LED technologies; to rethink city services in the light of open data and apps developed by interest groups; to overcome media piracy undermining native film industries through digital distribution systems; or the need to provide financing and support to social entrepreneurs in African cities. The winning solutions are:

City of Barcelona: Citysolver, by Bitcarrier

City of Cape Town:  Venture Capital Cultivator Fund, by PoweredbyVC

City of Eindhoven: Integral Solution for Urban Infrastructures (SIIUR), by bdigital

City of Lagos: Eggup | Sell your films while preventing piracy, by Eggup.com

City of San Francisco: Open Data as a Platform for Citizen Service Delivery, by Socrata Inc.

City of Sant Cugat: Smart Parking for Smart Urban Living, by Worldsensing

City of Stockholm: Spotscout, by Spotscout Inc.

City of Taipei: A+ Care: Smart Autonomous TeleHealth Care Service, by Netown

Winners were announced after an international two-round jury process under auspices of Living Labs Global, a non-profit association based in Copenhagen working with 40 cities and 450 companies around the world to promote service innovation in cities.

The Award Ceremony was attended by 200 participants from 20 countries in Stockholm as part of the Stockholm Summit for Service Innovation in Cities.

The Living Labs Global Award 2011 is a unique global process providing full accountability in the evaluation through independent experts. The Award was carried out in partnership with Oracle Corporation, Farglory and supporting organisations from around the world.

About the Living Labs Global Award

Living Labs Global is a non-profit association based in Copenhagen (Denmark), working with 40 cities and 450 companies and research centres in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas with a mission to open the market for service innovation in cities and overcoming key technology, organisation and trade barriers.

The Living Labs Global Award is an annual process over 8 months in which cities present their challenges and provide guidance to the business and technology community on future investment plans and needs. Solution providers respond by submitting existing technologies as entries for evaluation by an international jury.

Follow results and the upcoming Living Labs Global Award 2012 on Twitter. Facts: More than 557,000 local governments provide services to more than 50% of the world’s population with an annual spending of 3.5 Trillion Euros per year. New technologies can radically improve transport and mobility systems, access to finance, media distribution, social services and other key areas of urban life.

Lagos: Will Service Innovation Secure the Future of Nollywood?

As part of our series of articles published in partnership with the Living Labs Global Award, Cluster.eu has just posted its very interesting Q&A on how to protect Nollywood's growth from video piracy, with Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, Commissioner for Science and Technology of the State of Lagos, and Sunil Abraham, executive director of the Centre for Internet for Society of Banglaore. Living Labs Global Award Lagos 2011 Nollywood Piracy DVD Media Streaming

Read the Article on Cluster.eu

Lagos: Will Service Innovation Secure the Future of Nollywood?

As part of our series of articles published in partnership with the Living Labs Global Award, Cluster.eu has just posted its very interesting Q&A on how to protect Nollywood's growth from video piracy, with Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, Commissioner for Science and Technology of the State of Lagos, and Sunil Abraham, executive director of the Centre for Internet for Society of Banglaore. Living Labs Global Award Lagos 2011 Nollywood Piracy DVD Media Streaming

Read the Article on Cluster.eu

Interview with Anette Scheibe of Kista Science City: from Fossil Fuels to Intelligent Transport Solutions ‘the Stockholm Way’

Interview with Anette Scheibe of Kista Science City: from Fossil Fuels to Intelligent Transport Solutions ‘the Stockholm Way’.This entry is the first in a series of interviews conducted by Cluster in collaboration with Living Labs Global (LLG) in occasion of the second edition of the second edition of Living Labs Global Award, an international technology award for digital services that add high value to users in cities around the world. 8 global cities partnered with LLG to search for solutions to their most pressing local problems in a global context.

My war on regional digitized road and transport data in Stockholm

During the years 2006 – 2009 when working in the regional public transport I found an lucky opportunity to fill one of my companies most frustrating data black holes with ones and zeros. But you can’t win them all! Listen to my story. You are one year old when you learn to walk, you are five or six when you learn to ride a bike and at least 16 when learning to drive. All of us have as a primary means of traveling - walking (and here I include all in wheelchairs) and even motorists are occasionally forced to leave their car - at least to be able to refuel the car.

Although, since the modern era began, cities has focused on the car's traction, and to be frank , we have built cities such as displacing pedestrians as second-class citizens. When Sweden a few years ago legislated that motorists have an obligation to give way to pedestrians intending to cross the street - then motorists raged and state that this is a traffic hazard!

In wintertime all municipalities in Sweden are carefully plowing the roads. Although, in many of these municipalities leaders has decided that the property owners shall be responsible for clearing snow from sidewalks. How many property owners do you think it is along a normal Swedish roadside - and how likely do you make it a pedestrian is offered a safe and pleasant journey? And bike lanes often proves to be a perfect place for the snow brigade to put aside the snow.

In Sweden, the public exercise of power is highly decentralized and we have a very comprehensive municipal planning monopoly. But there is also very important to have a coherent national road infrastructure. Sweden therefore decided very early that it was important to establish a national database of road network. Yes, that is, the motorist road network, administrated by the National Swedish Road Administration. First on the runway by filling it with content was in fact the forest industry. They used this excellent almost free of charge resource to post their temporary forest roads so that their forest machines and trucks could find their way to all the remote and well hidden places where harvesting is currently underway. See there - an excellent commercial application of one of the society offered national data infrastructures!

In this decentralized Sweden, the municipalities are also responsible for the local road network. Therefore, also the digitization of the local road network has been a local affair and the Swedish Road Administration has therefore never been able to force any municipality neither to gather the data, nor to deliver it anywhere. Of course, the local politicians has limited budgets and if he / she has to choose among local public opinions, the one that demands for digitized road networks has never been particularly vociferous. In fact, even after 14 years of operation, this database NVDB has not yet signed contracts with all Swedish municipalities.

In fact, when NVDB established in 1996, bike lanes were not even on the horizon. Today as the National Traffic Administration offers the possibility after many years of nagging (not the least from me) quite many municipalities have supplied data, but there is still no one offering municipalities an opportunity to store a digitized pedestrian lane database.

I used to work in SL, the Stockholm County Public Transportation Authority, and there I was responsible for the development of Internet and mobile services. Such a core service is the travel planner. SL's network is an integrated intermodal network that spans 26 municipalities and, yes, you already understand the problem. All the county has actually delivered the digitized road network and that means that all players, especially yellow pages business and Garmin and TomTom etc have been able to develop great services. But in public transport you are totally dependent on that the footpaths are digitized - for all public transport passengers must get to and from stations and bus stops. For SL, the lack of an across municipal boundaries associated digitized pedestrian network the travel planner becoming increasingly a problem as customers always expect better and more advanced services.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sw78Pwtg38w&w=425&h=350]

A few years ago when Stockholm won the opportunity to host the ITS World Congress, I saw an opportunity to change this. I put on the top of my (read SL) wish list a coherent and digitized route network for walking and biking. I quite easily in these collaborative surrounding of the National Swedish Road Administration, the National Swedish Rail Administration, The National Swedish Transport Administration, the City of Stockholm, the National Swedish Railway Company and many, many other stakeholders found friends of the mission, realizing the importance of this. Mobility services for people with impairments, police and rescue services must be found to the door even on local private pedestrian areas in closed yards, the postal service must even find doors in the z-axis, so this should be a easy piece, I thought. I built relations with ALL, and all agreed on the importance of access to such data - but no one was willing to either take responsibility or to share responsibility, this includes my former employer.

In despair I went to one of the largest commercial global players in GIS. They had a great interest - to map the inner city of Stockholm on the basis of the business traveler's perspective ... but could not see any profit to make in the mapping of walking paths in the Stockholm archipelago. No luck again.

Finally I found one guy with the same burning fire inside for the same thing as me, he ran the exact same question from one of the largest and leading infrastructure consultancy firms, actually he was the CEO of a large subsidiary specializing in GIS.

Today he is no longer there and still today you cannot find a coherent pedestrian and bicycle road network in this county.

This, ladies and gentlemen, this is my biggest carrier failure. And I indeed take it very personal.

- Åke Lindström, Market Director Kista Science City

My war on regional digitized road and transport data in Stockholm

During the years 2006 – 2009 when working in the regional public transport I found an lucky opportunity to fill one of my companies most frustrating data black holes with ones and zeros. But you can’t win them all! Listen to my story. You are one year old when you learn to walk, you are five or six when you learn to ride a bike and at least 16 when learning to drive. All of us have as a primary means of traveling - walking (and here I include all in wheelchairs) and even motorists are occasionally forced to leave their car - at least to be able to refuel the car.

Although, since the modern era began, cities has focused on the car's traction, and to be frank , we have built cities such as displacing pedestrians as second-class citizens. When Sweden a few years ago legislated that motorists have an obligation to give way to pedestrians intending to cross the street - then motorists raged and state that this is a traffic hazard!

In wintertime all municipalities in Sweden are carefully plowing the roads. Although, in many of these municipalities leaders has decided that the property owners shall be responsible for clearing snow from sidewalks. How many property owners do you think it is along a normal Swedish roadside - and how likely do you make it a pedestrian is offered a safe and pleasant journey? And bike lanes often proves to be a perfect place for the snow brigade to put aside the snow.

In Sweden, the public exercise of power is highly decentralized and we have a very comprehensive municipal planning monopoly. But there is also very important to have a coherent national road infrastructure. Sweden therefore decided very early that it was important to establish a national database of road network. Yes, that is, the motorist road network, administrated by the National Swedish Road Administration. First on the runway by filling it with content was in fact the forest industry. They used this excellent almost free of charge resource to post their temporary forest roads so that their forest machines and trucks could find their way to all the remote and well hidden places where harvesting is currently underway. See there - an excellent commercial application of one of the society offered national data infrastructures!

In this decentralized Sweden, the municipalities are also responsible for the local road network. Therefore, also the digitization of the local road network has been a local affair and the Swedish Road Administration has therefore never been able to force any municipality neither to gather the data, nor to deliver it anywhere. Of course, the local politicians has limited budgets and if he / she has to choose among local public opinions, the one that demands for digitized road networks has never been particularly vociferous. In fact, even after 14 years of operation, this database NVDB has not yet signed contracts with all Swedish municipalities.

In fact, when NVDB established in 1996, bike lanes were not even on the horizon. Today as the National Traffic Administration offers the possibility after many years of nagging (not the least from me) quite many municipalities have supplied data, but there is still no one offering municipalities an opportunity to store a digitized pedestrian lane database.

I used to work in SL, the Stockholm County Public Transportation Authority, and there I was responsible for the development of Internet and mobile services. Such a core service is the travel planner. SL's network is an integrated intermodal network that spans 26 municipalities and, yes, you already understand the problem. All the county has actually delivered the digitized road network and that means that all players, especially yellow pages business and Garmin and TomTom etc have been able to develop great services. But in public transport you are totally dependent on that the footpaths are digitized - for all public transport passengers must get to and from stations and bus stops. For SL, the lack of an across municipal boundaries associated digitized pedestrian network the travel planner becoming increasingly a problem as customers always expect better and more advanced services.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sw78Pwtg38w&w=425&h=350]

A few years ago when Stockholm won the opportunity to host the ITS World Congress, I saw an opportunity to change this. I put on the top of my (read SL) wish list a coherent and digitized route network for walking and biking. I quite easily in these collaborative surrounding of the National Swedish Road Administration, the National Swedish Rail Administration, The National Swedish Transport Administration, the City of Stockholm, the National Swedish Railway Company and many, many other stakeholders found friends of the mission, realizing the importance of this. Mobility services for people with impairments, police and rescue services must be found to the door even on local private pedestrian areas in closed yards, the postal service must even find doors in the z-axis, so this should be a easy piece, I thought. I built relations with ALL, and all agreed on the importance of access to such data - but no one was willing to either take responsibility or to share responsibility, this includes my former employer.

In despair I went to one of the largest commercial global players in GIS. They had a great interest - to map the inner city of Stockholm on the basis of the business traveler's perspective ... but could not see any profit to make in the mapping of walking paths in the Stockholm archipelago. No luck again.

Finally I found one guy with the same burning fire inside for the same thing as me, he ran the exact same question from one of the largest and leading infrastructure consultancy firms, actually he was the CEO of a large subsidiary specializing in GIS.

Today he is no longer there and still today you cannot find a coherent pedestrian and bicycle road network in this county.

This, ladies and gentlemen, this is my biggest carrier failure. And I indeed take it very personal.

- Åke Lindström, Market Director Kista Science City

The Vector Project Visioning Workshop.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsDLzqWGrQk&w=425&h=350] At our Summit on Service Innovation last week in Copenhagen we ran 9 parallel Visioning Workshops, such as the one facilitated by Neil Clavin and Maya Wiseman on their Vector Project Showcase. The above video was edited by Viktorija Prak, a very talented student supporting Neil and Maya in the workshop, in which business leaders, strategists, researchers and cities invented new urban technologies to redefine the role of bikes in our cities.

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.

Pesinet: Micro-Insurance for Child Health Services in Mali

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=6832695&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

Flash animation from Anne Roos-Weil on Vimeo.

A nonprofit organization called Pesinet is using mobile phones and a basic java application to change the way that children are treated within the healthcare system in Mali. Though the system is basic enough--healthcare agents provide weekly checkups on children and relay the weekly results through a java-enabled application on their mobile phone to a doctor who then reviews the results--- it's strikes at the core barriers which prevent children from receiving healthcare provision in a timely fashion; The organizations founder, Ann Roos-Weil, identifies the three core barriers as: 1) access to healthcare, in many rural areas in Mali families simply do not have access to healthcare resources. 2) family finances, often times the cost of healthcare itself is prohibitively expensive. 3) An attitude towards healthcare and illness itself, often times families in Mali delay treatment until the illness is extremely advanced. As Roos-Weil puts it in rather stark terms: "In Sub-Sahara Africa you have a very, very high child mortality rate. […] In Mali, where our project is based, one child out of five dies before the age of five. What we realized is that they’re mostly dying because they don’t go to the doctor or the healthcare center early enough."

Creatively enough, the Roos-Weil's solution was to devise a system which addressed each barrier individually. Through the Pesinet program, healthcare agents visit villages on a weekly basis and report on the health of a child to a trained physician through their mobile phones. Moreover, the Pesinet system provides a micro-insurance program in which a family pays a monthly 1 euro fee to participate. In effect this covers the cost of the healthcare agents visit, a visit to the doctor if it is deemed necessary and half the cost of medication should any be prescribed. Lastly, the weekly healthcare agent visits prevent families from waiting too long in the case that a child falls violently ill.

Mobile phones have enabled the program to reach many more children than would have otherwise been possible. According to Roos-Weil "What we found useful in mobile technology is mostly a case of efficiency in the way health workers do their work. Because basically, while using mobile technology you can ensure that the agent is having proximity to families, so she can do the home-based check-up while seeing a lot of children in a short time, which allows the doctor to follow up on a great number of children. Mobile technology, in our case, […] allows a model whereby we can touch a great volume of children while using just one doctor."

To learn more about Pesinet, click here.

Pesinet: Micro-Insurance for Child Health Services in Mali

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=6832695&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

Flash animation from Anne Roos-Weil on Vimeo.

A nonprofit organization called Pesinet is using mobile phones and a basic java application to change the way that children are treated within the healthcare system in Mali. Though the system is basic enough--healthcare agents provide weekly checkups on children and relay the weekly results through a java-enabled application on their mobile phone to a doctor who then reviews the results--- it's strikes at the core barriers which prevent children from receiving healthcare provision in a timely fashion; The organizations founder, Ann Roos-Weil, identifies the three core barriers as: 1) access to healthcare, in many rural areas in Mali families simply do not have access to healthcare resources. 2) family finances, often times the cost of healthcare itself is prohibitively expensive. 3) An attitude towards healthcare and illness itself, often times families in Mali delay treatment until the illness is extremely advanced. As Roos-Weil puts it in rather stark terms: "In Sub-Sahara Africa you have a very, very high child mortality rate. […] In Mali, where our project is based, one child out of five dies before the age of five. What we realized is that they’re mostly dying because they don’t go to the doctor or the healthcare center early enough."

Creatively enough, the Roos-Weil's solution was to devise a system which addressed each barrier individually. Through the Pesinet program, healthcare agents visit villages on a weekly basis and report on the health of a child to a trained physician through their mobile phones. Moreover, the Pesinet system provides a micro-insurance program in which a family pays a monthly 1 euro fee to participate. In effect this covers the cost of the healthcare agents visit, a visit to the doctor if it is deemed necessary and half the cost of medication should any be prescribed. Lastly, the weekly healthcare agent visits prevent families from waiting too long in the case that a child falls violently ill.

Mobile phones have enabled the program to reach many more children than would have otherwise been possible. According to Roos-Weil "What we found useful in mobile technology is mostly a case of efficiency in the way health workers do their work. Because basically, while using mobile technology you can ensure that the agent is having proximity to families, so she can do the home-based check-up while seeing a lot of children in a short time, which allows the doctor to follow up on a great number of children. Mobile technology, in our case, […] allows a model whereby we can touch a great volume of children while using just one doctor."

To learn more about Pesinet, click here.

California Mobile Alert System

Despite budget woes, California is stepping up its game and plans to be the first state in the US to offer its citizens an all-state mobile alert system; this means that citizens may soon receive timely notifications in the case of wildfires, hurricanes, school shootings and other emergency situations in their mobile phones. The network, deemed the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), will begin a pilot program this fall in San Diego County in partnership with the county's Office of Emergency Services. The CMAS technology works much like the emergency alerts broadcast on television or through land line phones. But the main difference is that emergency text messages will be sent to mobile phones in a defined geographic area, which could be as large as a county or city or as small as a few blocks.

CMAS is part of the larger national effort by the FCC to to provide emergency information from federal, state and local officials about natural disasters, terrorist threats and other potential dangers.

California Mobile Alert System

Despite budget woes, California is stepping up its game and plans to be the first state in the US to offer its citizens an all-state mobile alert system; this means that citizens may soon receive timely notifications in the case of wildfires, hurricanes, school shootings and other emergency situations in their mobile phones. The network, deemed the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), will begin a pilot program this fall in San Diego County in partnership with the county's Office of Emergency Services. The CMAS technology works much like the emergency alerts broadcast on television or through land line phones. But the main difference is that emergency text messages will be sent to mobile phones in a defined geographic area, which could be as large as a county or city or as small as a few blocks.

CMAS is part of the larger national effort by the FCC to to provide emergency information from federal, state and local officials about natural disasters, terrorist threats and other potential dangers.

More Museum Mobile Apps

For those of you who have enjoyed past posts on mobile museum tour applications---you might find this recent article about mobile museum tours in New York City. While the article doesn't elucidate any particularly new nugget of information, it does give us a comparative glimpse of how these applications can change your ability to control your experience when time is limited or when you've got impatient kids in tow. Enjoy.

A Network Without Cell Towers?

In moments of crisis--natural disasters, floods, war---cell phones often fail us because the mobile phone infrastructure is inherently vulnerable to the disaster as well. This reality creates quite the conundrum for most those of us out there who view cell phones as an essential emergency tool. Australian researchers venture to solve this intrinsic weakness by introducing a system of cell phone networks that do not require cell phone towers. Rather, Serval, the towerless-mobile phone network, relies solely upon an independent (temporary) router system generated by wifi-enabled mobile phones. The key here is that any two phones that contain the Serval software can create a temporary network and allow voice transmissions without utilizing a mobile phone tower.

Paul Gardner-Stephen, a computer scientist at Flinders University who heads up the Serval project remarked that "It’s about bringing convenient and flexible telecommunications into situations where ordinarily it would be very difficult to do that.”

After having tested the software in a remote desert of Australia, the team is mostly thrilled with the development of the system. In the future they hope to expand the range of the Serval software so that calls can be made to phones outside of a 100 meter radius or so.

A Network Without Cell Towers?

In moments of crisis--natural disasters, floods, war---cell phones often fail us because the mobile phone infrastructure is inherently vulnerable to the disaster as well. This reality creates quite the conundrum for most those of us out there who view cell phones as an essential emergency tool. Australian researchers venture to solve this intrinsic weakness by introducing a system of cell phone networks that do not require cell phone towers. Rather, Serval, the towerless-mobile phone network, relies solely upon an independent (temporary) router system generated by wifi-enabled mobile phones. The key here is that any two phones that contain the Serval software can create a temporary network and allow voice transmissions without utilizing a mobile phone tower.

Paul Gardner-Stephen, a computer scientist at Flinders University who heads up the Serval project remarked that "It’s about bringing convenient and flexible telecommunications into situations where ordinarily it would be very difficult to do that.”

After having tested the software in a remote desert of Australia, the team is mostly thrilled with the development of the system. In the future they hope to expand the range of the Serval software so that calls can be made to phones outside of a 100 meter radius or so.

Monitoring Our Rivers. Hudson, NY

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=8085732&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0 Beacon Institute: REON from Beacon Institute on Vimeo.

Last week, Director and CEO of NY's Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries spoke at an even that IBM held on advances in streaming and analytics for IT bloggers. Of the speakers at the event, Cronin stood out for his emphatic yet progressive take on role sensors can and should play in the environmental movement. Arguing that environmentalism has become detached from innovation and that this attitude is killing our waterways unless we are able to use technology to bolster real-time monitoring, Cronin made the case for some of his institutes most progressive, ground-breaking and tech-saavy programs. The idea is simple: IBM and Beacon, which is developing technology, systems and sensors to monitor water in real-time, aim to create the equivalent of a water weather report; Cronin pointed out during out that where we might have access to information on the weather report on the other side of the world, we have very little day to day information on the state of our water systems.

With the help of IBM, Beacon hopes to make the Hudson the most networked waterway in the world with real-time data management and transmission data. Cronin noted "The Hudson isn’t an ecosystem. It’s an information system. If we don’t look at it in a 21st century fashion we’re doomed.”

The need for such systems isn't lost on most of us, especially in light of the oil spill in the gulf. As water becomes scarce, the need for such initiatives seems more imperative than ever. Interested readers can learn more about the Beacon Institute and their initiatives here.

Listen: Making New York a Senior Friendly City

Following up on this month's New York Time's article, Brian Lehrer of New York City's public radio station, WNYC, discusses the challenges of improving cities for the elderly with Linda Gibbs, the deputy mayor of Health and Human Services in NYC. Broadening the conversation a bit from the original New York Times article, the full segment offers an interesting if not redundant insight into the challenges associated with making your city friendlier for seniors.

The full segment can be played here:

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New York City Aims to Improve the Lives of Elderly

The challenges associated with growing old in some of the world's largest, fastest, most-intimidating cities are not new. Crumbling side-walks, inaccessible public restrooms, stoplights that favor cars over pedestrians are problems that can be found in most modern 21st century cities. It's for these reasons precisely that New York Cities most recent attempts to soften up its streets, making it a kinder, friendlier place for cities to live out their golden years. Though the initiative may be bold for a city that has long staked its reputation on it's fast-paced, young and pulsating energy, overall the initiative is incredibly smart; As New York's deputy mayor for Health and Human services puts it, “New York has become a safer city, and we have such richness of parks and culture that we’re becoming a senior retirement destination. They come not only with their minds and their bodies; they come with their pocketbooks.”

Though the city's modifications to infrastructure may seem menial, it seems that elderly residents are quite responsive. These include: extending walk time for pedestrians at more than 400 stoplights across the city, introducing senior-centered art classes in conjunction with city subsidized artist grant programs, providing school buses for common errands such as trips to the grocery store, and creating two specific aging-improvement districts that will be markedly safer and more accessible for seniors.

These improvements are just the tip of the iceberg of an initiative that hopes to drastically improve the daily life of seniors. As an outsider, I find the effort admirable. In recognizing that retiring to a old folks home to live the end of life years is a bit antiquated, the city itself is bearing up and taking on some of the responsibility.

Keen readers can learn more about the initiative here.

What is a Mobile Economy? Let's Look to Africa

In May, the research firm Generator Research published a report in which they projected that the worldwide market for mobile payments will grow to 633.4 billion by 2014; the report was picked up by Gigaom and a number of mobile-savvy blogs, getting enough dissemination to make most entrepreneurs drool over the possibilities for growth and implementation. While entrepreneurs may be drooling over this, the question remains, what does a mobile economy really mean for most of us? Later last month, I happened upon an interview with Ethan Zuckerman, a senior researcher at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. In the interview, Ethan suggests that if we want to know what a mobile economy might look like, we should probably look to Africa for a clue. Without an established and easily accessible banking infrastructure, much of Africa has leapfrogged the former infrastructure and, consequently, embraced mobile payments.

Throughout the interview, Zuckerman offers up gems of insights about mobile markets and economies and what's in it for us. He's also careful to point out barriers to entry and other factors which may continue to discourage use; most notably, mobile payment carrier charges which can account for as much as 50% of the original payment.

You can listen to the full interview here.