Pittsburgh Is Going Driverless

Laura Bliss at CityLab: In what would be an industry milestone, the Steel City will welcome Uber’s first autonomous ride-sharing vehicles this month.

Bloomberg <a href="http://www non prescription viagra.bloomberg.com/news/features/2016-08-18/uber-s-first-self-driving-fleet-arrives-in-pittsburgh-this-month-is06r7on”>reported Thursday that the ride-hailing behemoth Uber will roll out passenger-ready autonomous vehicles in the city of Pittsburgh later this month. Customers summoning regular Ubers from their phones will be randomly assigned to one of a fleet of tricked-out Volvo SUVs, capable of driving without human assistance.



New PA Open Data Portal Website

Pennsylvania just launched OpenDataPA, a website that will house all Pennsylvania datasets. According to RouteFifty, Governor Wolf’s administration three data priority areas are “Schools That Teach,” “Jobs That Pay,” and “Government That Works.”

Check out the data portal website here and RouteFifty article here to learn more!

PGH Lab: Pittsburgh Selects 3 Startups to Work With the City Under a New Pilot Program

Route Fifty: Three companies have been chosen to participate in a program meant to connect civic-oriented startups with Pittsburgh’s city government, Mayor Bill Peduto’s office said Tuesday.

Dubbed PGH Lab, the pilot initiative aims to give local firms a chance to work with city departments and Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, testing new technologies and services. They’ll get a chance to do so for three months, between late July and early October.


Mapping America’s Mountains of Garbage

Ever wonder how much trash the U.S. collects in landfills?

CityLab: Widely considered to be the first sanitary landfill in the U.S., the Fresno garbage dump, which opened in 1937, has the dubious distinction of being named to both the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and the nation’s list of Superfund sites. That’s a funny pair of categories to straddle, but it illustrates an important point: Trash is a starring character in the American story, even as we continue to wrestle with its consequences.


Check Out This Great Resource for County-Level Health Data: Allegheny County 26/67 Counties in PA

Ever wonder where Allegheny County ranks in overall health in Pennsylvania? Thanks to Route Fifty’s “County-Level Health Data” article, we now know where to find this information. County Health Rankings, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program, compiled county data to rank health outcomes, quality of life, health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment.


Allegheny County ranks 26 out of 67 PA counties, better than half the counties, while just a bit south, Greene and Fayette Counties rank 59 and 66, respectively. This new tool gives states the capability to pinpoint which counties have a higher health risk and how to best target each county. County Health Rankings also offers a contact for personalized health coaching to determine the best support for each county.

20160315_113746_resized For more info about actionable plans, check out the Action Center at County Health Rankings.

Click here to see the break-down of Allegheny County’s Health Rankings.

LED Street Light Research Project Part II: New Findings


Cities aim to save money and make their citizens happy. By converting HID (High Density Discharge) luminaries to LED (Light-Emitting Diode) luminaries cities save 40-80% in energy costs and 50-75% in maintenance costs. Steve Quick, Don Carter, Kayvon Fatahalian, Cynthia Limauro at The Remaking Cities Institute (RCI) at CMU partnered with the City of Pittsburgh and C&C Lighting to test the effects of installing LED streetlights throughout Pittsburgh. Is there more than meets the eye?

The US markets LED lighting as cost and energy saving but does not address light quality problems such as glare, which is deemed an “unnecessary” component. To determine if costs really outweigh the quality for cities, Pittsburgh installed more than 4,500 new cobra head lights and more than 100 pendant teardrop LED luminaries (see figure below) and the RCI team found the following “lessons learned” and recommendations:


Lessons learned:

  • Glare is still a problem: Cobra head and decorative luminaries don’t solve the glare problem.
  • The light industry is a cost-driven system: The City should try to create a balance of cost-saving and quality of light.
  • Life-span of lights will increase: Adding sensors to street lights will increase the life span of lights, make them easier to replace and controlled from one place.
  • Municipalities should look to the European model: In Europe, streetlights are interchangeable and interopenable for a long-term choice and healthier marketplace.
  • Streetlights will be smart: Control nodes and/or luminaries will soon have data processing capabilities including WiFi and telecommunication but will be limited by data transmission and data streaming.

Smart City Recommendations:

  • Allow for different vendors: Luminaries should be independent of lighting control node to allow for separate vendors.
  • Develop a long term plan: When designing new streetlights, create them with the capability for intelligent options such as adding sensors, audio/visual, and WiFi.
  • Use citizen engagement: In LA, the City posted signs on the light poles to obtain feedback and in Pittsburgh, Deliberative Democracies were held to discuss LED lighting. Continue implementing these practices.
  • Use other city knowledge: Develop and discuss with other cities such as Glasgow who have developed a future city plan specifically for intelligent street lighting. Check out Glasgow’s plan here.
  • Use different temperature lights in different areas of the city: Use higher Kelvin level lighting for commercial areas than in residential areas.

One additional feature discovered in the study was way finding. Way finding uses Red/Green/Blue (RGB) technology to create unique lighting for certain situations. It can be used to light a path for emergency situations, create event lighting and guide pedestrians to certain locations such as a gallery crawl (see Pittsburgh example below).

way-finding pgh

In short, streetlights provide the opportunity for cities to be smart: “The cooperative use of existing broadband infrastructure, advances in communicating data, and rethinking the common LED streetlight as core elements of an electronic network can provide cities with a low-cost and effective smart infrastructure and platform for the intelligent city.”

Click here to read the full study and findings

A New Life for Urban Alleys

The alley is dark no longer.

In the United States, these almost-accidental spaces between buildings have existed in a sort of limbo: not quite streets, but still thoroughfares; not private, but not public enough to feel protected; backdrops to crime, or filled with trash heaps.

But as cities grow increasingly strapped for space, neglecting these narrow streets is no longer a viable option. Cities from Los Angeles to Baltimore to Seattle are rethinking their alleyways and transforming dead ends into into places of connectivity and productivity.


Pittsburgh To Begin Using ‘Life-Saving’ Smartphone App

The city and county want to improve the area’s life-saving abilities with a smartphone app. “To get people past that critical first stage, in being able to utilize what has already become what Pittsburgh is known for: technology and medicine,” says Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. It’s called “Pulse Point,” activated by calling 911. More>>

The Future of the ‘Smart City’: A Podcast

Happy 4th of July! In a special re-broadcast from the WBEZ Takeaway, listen to what the urban centers of the future will look like. <a href="https://www look these up.wbez.org/shows/the-takeaway/the-future-of-the-smart-city-r/c943ac04-5584-471e-b532-043ea6ae37fe”>More>>

Miniature flying robots automatically inspect, analyze, and assess damage to infrastructure

The Northeastern and CMU team is devel­oping a sophis­ti­cated system called the Aerial Robotic Infra­struc­ture Ana­lyst, or ARIA. It uses small low-​​flying robots known as micro air vehi­cles, or MAVs, cou­pled with 3-​​D imaging and state-​​of-​​the art plan­ning, mod­eling, and analysis to inspect struc­tures such as bridges and build­ings and to auto­mat­i­cally iden­tify prob­lems, track their progress, and assess the need for follow-​​up. More>>