Toyota Plans to Test Hydrogen-Based Transportation in Fukushima Futuristic City

By Otilia Drăgan

Toyota is taking another important step that contributes to Japan’s overall goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. After successfully initiating the Woven City project earlier this year, the company is now discussing with several partners the opening of a hydrogen-based city in the Fukushima Prefecture.

Sustainability is the word on everybody’s lips these days, but not too many can dream of a sustainable city prototype and actually bring it to life. This future society would be centered around hydrogen, another power-word in today’s automotive industry. The hydrogen will be locally produced and then used for clean transportation. These are the plans for Toyota’s next pioneering, sustainable city.

Toyota partnered with Isuzu and Hino to build a hydrogen-based city in the Fukushima Prefecture, with which they are currently discussing the future project. The prefecture will be the energy supplier, by producing hydrogen at several local sites, including the Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field (FH2R).

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Seoul to expand network of poles to charge vehicles and drones

By Christopher Carey

Analysis of the project in the Seongdong district showed savings of 12-21 percent. 

Seoul is set to expand its network of smart poles (S-poles) – which act as streetlights, traffic lights, environmental sensors, footfall counters, smartphone chargers, Wi-Fi access points and CCTV points – from 26 to 216 by the end of the year.

The poles, launched in February, will also have the potential to charge drones and electric vehicles as part of a pilot project set to be launched in the second half of this year.

“S-poles are the core infrastructure of a smart city, which can reduce the cost while improving the scenery, safety, and convenience,” said Lee Won-Mok, Director General of Seoul’s Smart City Policy.

“We will work on developing newly-demanded features for smart cities from electric car charging to drone-related technologies to create smarter urban infrastructures.”

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Toyota’s Futuristic Woven City Will Be Powered by Hydrogen

By Cristina Mircea

The fact that Toyota started to build its own 175-acre city of the future it’s already yesterday’s news. It is happening and it’s going to be a society of the future, fully automated, sustainable and interconnected using AI technology. But what we didn’t know up until now was how they’re planning to power the entire ecosystem. Turns out they’re going to use hydrogen energy.

Woven Planet, a subsidiary of Toyota, which is responsible for the prototype city, recently announced in a press release (you can peruse it in its dedicated section below the article) that it partnered with ENEOS, a major Japanese player in the hydrogen business. The goal is to create a hydrogen-based society and to become carbon-neutral at the same time, by 2050, according to their estimates.

Toyota and ENEOS are going to test the hydrogen-based supply chain in and around Woven City, from the production phase to delivery and usage. The Japanese carmaker sees hydrogen as one of the cleanest energy sources available and tries to explore and implement the hydrogen and fuel cell technology as much as it can. 

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Seoul’s Smart Traffic Lights Will Charge EVs and Drones

Seoul’s S-Poles

By  Chris Young

The multipurpose S-Poles can also function as Wi-Fi access points.

A smaller, more versatile version of the utility pole might soon become ubiquitous throughout future smart cities worldwide. 

Amongst the implementors of such a technology is Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), which announced last year that it would install new ‘smart poles’, or S-Poles, that act as streetlights, traffic lights, environmental sensors, smartphone chargers, Wi-Fi access points, CCTV, and more.

As a Cities Today report explains, the city of Seoul, South Korea, has already installed twenty-six smart poles in six areas of the city. Each pole’s function is customized to the requirements of its specific location.

SMG is piloting a version of the S-Pole system, which is also able to charge drones and electric vehicles as well as count the footfall of nearby pedestrians.

The project, which is in the planning stage, would use drones to monitor potential disasters and provide data for emergency rescue teams.

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Nobody Is Going to Conventions. Convention Centers Are Growing

Indianapolis’s convention center hosted the National Rifle Association convention last year, just one of the many events that didn’t go off as usual in 2020.

By Mary Williams Walsh

The pandemic is intensifying the competition among cities, which are rushing to build bigger, more alluring event spaces.

After 20 years of trying, Indianapolis finally landed the American Dental Association convention. Last December, the group agreed to gather there in 2026, promising Indianapolis tens of thousands of visitors and tens of millions of dollars for the local economy.

But there’s a catch: The dentists can back out if the convention center complex does not complete a $550 million expansion: 143,500 square feet of new event and ballroom space as well as two privately financed hotels.

That helps explain why, in the depths of a pandemic that has left many convention centers empty or repurposed into field hospitals or homeless shelters, a 25-member board in Indianapolis voted unanimously in September to add up to $155 million to the public debt.

“We see convention tourism racing back in 2023,” said Chris Gahl, senior vice president of Visit Indy, the nonprofit that markets the Indiana Convention Center and attractions like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “When the green flag drops, we’re going to be on the competitive edge.”

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Future Cities: From Le Corbusier’s Radiant City to the Dutch “Breathing City 2050”

By Scarlett Miao

Throughout history, religious reformers and visionary starchitects have attempted to envision the future of our cities: from the Venetian model city of Palmanova to the multi-story housing complex for 5,000 people drafted by Italian architect Paolo Soleri, from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City to Le Corbusier’s Radiant City, numerous masterplans have been crafted to illustrate some of the most unprecedented ambitions.

Today, people have never stopped investigating new approaches to urban planning that may enable a smooth transition towards a future green economy. In 2018, Dutch governments and knowledge institutions initiated the “2050 City of the Future” design study, with an aim to research how future cities should react to major challenges such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, natural resource depletion, and pollution. During this time of collaboration, VenhoevenCS, the leading architectural firm in the team, has conducted substantial conceptual research and provided plenty of expertise in sustainable master planning.

This article will look into several case studies that have been carried out by VenhoevenCS, and compare them with visions outlined by Le Corbusier in Radiant City. We will revisit the past issues and see if we have solved them in contemporary environments. Meanwhile, we will also discuss whether or not Corbusier’s design principles are still applicable, as we have entered the future that he once imagined.

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Top Global Oil Exporter Saudi Arabia Launches Car-free City

By AFP News  

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A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on March 19, 2020 in the capital Riyadh shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, who will chair the G7 meeting “to advance a coordinated global response to the COVID-19 pandemic” 

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude exporter, announced Sunday the launch of an eco-city “with zero cars, zero streets and zero carbon emissions” at its futuristic NEOM mega development.

The $500 billion NEOM project, set to be built from scratch along the kingdom’s picturesque Red Sea coast, is billed as a development evocative of a sci-fi blockbuster.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled plans for a city, dubbed “THE LINE”, in a presentation broadcast on state TV.

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How ’15-minute cities’ will change the way we socialise

By Peter Yeung

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A new urban planning model will change the French capital – and could provide a template for how to create stronger local communities and make residents happier.

For a long time, Solène Fraioli says she “refused to admit” that Paris could be a stressful place. The 29-year-old waitress, who grew up on the city’s outskirts but now lives in a studio in a historic central district, was dazzled by its infinite opportunity – from Monday-night jazz concerts to West African cuisine and capoeira classes. But Fraioli began to recognise that living in the City of Light had certain disadvantages – particularly its frenetic, nonstop energy. “Paris is a city that is always on the move,” she says. “Everyone, all the time, everywhere.”

That conveyor belt of choice came crashing to a halt with the coronavirus pandemic. But for Fraioli, the two-month lockdown that began on 17 March – confining her to a 1km radius of her home – gave her a nuanced, enriching view of her neighbourhood. “I discovered it’s possible to feel like you’re in a small village in Paris,” she says. “To get to know your neighbours, to maintain good links with shopkeepers, to favour local craftsmen and shops over large supermarkets. I even joined a citizens’ movement where people prepare food baskets for homeless people. I thought I would have a hard time living the lockdown, but I was perfectly at home, in a quiet place.”

She’s not the only one who felt this way. “Unexpectedly, this experience strengthened the bonds I had with some people,” says Valentin Jedraszyk, a 25-year-old civil servant living in the south of Paris. “It led me to criss-cross the small streets of my district more than usual and thus to discover magnificent places just a stone’s throw from my home.”

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Shaping the future of the internet of things and urban transformation

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Transforming the spaces in which we live, work and play to enable a more sustainable, resilient and prosperous future for all.

 The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink the way we live. It is transforming industries and how we do business. It is intensifying social and environmental crises in our communities. And it is challenging fundamental assumptions and global trends, such as urbanization, that have cemented over more than 200 years since the First Industrial Revolution.

As the world prepares to build back stronger and better, we have new tools available to support this effort. A growing suite of connected devices and smart technologies, commonly referred to as the internet of things (IoT), offers a means to reimagine and transform physical spaces—our homes, offices, factories, farms, healthcare facilities and public spaces—to be more adaptive, customized and even anticipate new needs before they arise. New models for public-private cooperation and shared community services are also changing the way in which cities provide services to residents and business, blurring the lines between government and the private sector.

The World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of the Internet of Things and Urban Transformation is working with more than 100 global partners to ensure that these changes deliver a future that is more sustainable, resilient and prosperous for all. This includes, for example, initiatives with the Government of Brazil to support small and medium-sized enterprises and advance social mobility, collaboration with the G20 to modernize city services, and partnerships with wearables companies to help manage and avert the spread of COVID-19.

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How South Korea’s smart crossings are cutting road deaths

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Crossings in South Korea alert drivers when people are approaching, and warn pedestrians when cars are nearby

The crossing has been preparing for you before you set foot on it. Radar and thermal cameras detect your approach and notify a central control system, which triggers rows of LED warning lights on either side of the walkway to alert approaching drivers to your presence. To keep you alert, the system sounds an alarm and projects a warning image on the ground in front of you. It also sounds an alert on your smartphone. As the driver comes within 30 metres, a blinking electronic sign notifies them of your crossing.

This pedestrian crossing is located in three locations across South Korea, designed by the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT). It aims to minimise road traffic accidents in response to rising pedestrian casualties, 52.9 per cent of which occur at crossings. Many of these are caused by people crossing while looking at their phones (South Korea has the world’s highest smartphone penetration rate, and some of the highest road fatality and injury rates among developed countries). “So, I came to think of a smart crossing system that recognises the urgency of pedestrian safety on the crosswalk,” Kim Jong-hoon, a senior researcher at KICT says.

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How your city will transform as mobility tech catches on

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Polestar accelerates the shift to sustainable mobility, by making electric driving irresistible.

Parking prices, congestion charges, fuel stations – the costs and diversions one never had to face on their way to work in the age of horse and carriage. The switch from horse-riding to automobiles changed the kind of materials used to build roads – slippery asphalt replaced cobbled streets and dirt roads.

Autonomous driving and other new transportation modes are key technological megatrends in the infrastructure industry. This calls for the built environment to adjust to these latest mobility technologies as they shape the future of roads and real estate construction.

In the public sphere, assimilation to these new technologies in mobility has already begun in the regulatory space. Nations across Asia, Europe and North America for example have already issued autonomous testing permits and offered regulation for self-driving cars on public roads.

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LA and the World Economic Forum present blueprint for global UAM adoption

Drone view of downtown Los Angeles or LA skyline with skyscrapers and freeway traffic below.

Clean, safe and inclusive urban air mobility closer to becoming a reality with new partnership

The City of Los Angeles and the World Economic Forum have released a pioneering report that presents a roadmap for Urban Air Mobility (UAM). Principles of the Urban Sky advocates a principles-based policy-making framework for the rollout of UAM that protects the public interest to benefit the many rather than just the few.

UAM is an emerging mode of next generation aviation technology that is better suited for urban transport. With vertical takeoff and landing configurations, improvements in energy sources, and improved connectivity, it looks towards piloted or autonomous flights of people and the movement of goods in city centres, suburban and edge of town conurbations.

The report identifies seven principles critical for a scalable UAM policy framework. These include safety, sustainability, equity of access for disadvantaged communities, low-noise, multi-modal connectivity for seamless travel, local workforce development for new air and ground level jobs, and purpose-driven data sharing to respond to the needs of the market.

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