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We must plan the driverless city to avoid being hostage to the technology revolution

The Conversation, 28 April 2017
Trials of autonomous cars and buses have begun on the streets of Australian cities. Communications companies are moving to deploy the lasers, cameras and centimetre-perfect GPS that will enable a vehicle to navigate the streets of your town or city without a driver. Most research and commentary is telling us how the new machines will work, but not how they might shape our cities. The talk is of the benefits of new shared transport economies, but these new technologies will shape our built environment in ways that are not yet fully understood. There’s every chance that, if mismanaged, driverless technologies will entrench the ills of car dependency. As with Uber and the taxi industry, public sector planners and regulators will be forced to respond to the anger of those displaced by the new products the IT and automobile industries will bring to the market. But can we afford to wait?
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Smart cities can be vulnerable: That Dallas emergency siren hack is a warning of things to come

Salon, 15 April 2017
By infrastructure-hacking standards, the overnight triggering of the Dallas storm-warning system on April 7 was relatively benign. Starting at about 20 minutes before midnight more than 150 sirens across the city of 1.3 million people blared periodically, alarming residents in this tornado-prone part of the country. Worried that something was amiss, locals overloaded the city’s 911 emergency-calling system, causing what could have been harmful delays, while officials scrambled to figure out what was going on. They shut down the system at 1:17 a.m. and worked overnight with West Shore Services, a Michigan-based company hired by the city last year to maintain the network, to fix the problem, according to local news reports.
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Cities are complex systems – let’s start looking at them that way

The Conversation, 26 April 2017
The way we design our cities needs a serious rethink. After thousands of years of progress in urban development, we plateaued some 60 years ago. Cities are not safer, healthier, more efficient, or more equitable. They are getting worse on these measures. The statistics on chronic disease, rising road tolls and congestion in our urban environments paint a bleak future. The clues to why lie in how we think about and design our cities.
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The COMAC C919 jet, China’s answer to the Boeing 737 now just needs to sell

WA Today, 26 April 2017
When China unveiled an historic order for its first large commercial jetliner at a national air show in 2010, Western journalists were kept away, and only local media were allowed to witness a major turning point in China’s aviation ambitions. The COMAC C919 jet is expected to stage its maiden flight in the coming weeks, and foreign media and potential buyers will be invited in force – illustrating how Beijing is adjusting to competition for a slice of global jet sales worth $US2 trillion over the next 20 years. But after three years of delays and almost a decade in development, China’s answer to the Boeing 737 and its state-owned designers face a daunting phase: selling the jet abroad in a market dominated by Boeing and Airbus .
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Emirates trims US flights after Trump administration curbs

Washington Post, 19 April 2017
Emirates, the Middle East’s biggest airline, said on Wednesday it is cutting flights to the United States because of a drop in demand caused by tougher U.S. security measures and Trump administration attempts to ban travelers from Muslim-majority nations. The decision by the Dubai government-owned carrier is the strongest sign yet that the new measures imposed on U.S.-bound travelers from the Mideast are taking a financial toll on fast-growing Gulf carriers that have expanded rapidly in the United States.
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Did Seattle’s mandatory helmet law kill off its bike-share scheme?

The Guardian, 18 April 2017
A small group of supporters, journalists and a city councilman gathered at the end of last month to take Seattle’s cycle share bikes out for one last spin. Mayor Ed Murray had pulled the plug on the Pronto system after two-and-a-half years of low ridership, financial troubles and waning political support.
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How murals helped turn a declining community around

The Conversation, 13 April 2017
The inner-city district of Shandon, Ireland, has a history that dates back to medieval times. Its narrow streets and laneways are an eclectic architectural mix – Georgian, Victorian and modern buildings nestle alongside terraced worker’s cottages. But Shandon had become rundown despite its heritage value. Our research examined how, over the last 15 years, community groups in Shandon created public murals as part of a successful process of reversing decades of stagnation. In the later part of the 20th century, declining local employment opportunities and suburbanisation had prompted many residents to leave Shandon. Part of the Irish city of Cork, the district also suffered from a lack of a coherent planning framework. One of the vehicles for bringing the community together and revitalising Shandon was a mural project called “The Big Wash-Up”.
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Germany unveils zero-emissions train that only emits steam

Independent, 1 November 2016
Germany is set to introduce the world’s first zero-emission passenger train to be powered by hydrogen. The Coradia iLint only emits excess steam into the atmosphere, and provides an alternative to the country’s 4,000 diesel trains.
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Rooftop solar now Queensland’s biggest power station

RE neweconomy, 12 April 2017
The 1,805MW of solar PV capacity on the rooftops of Queensland homes and business now amount to be the biggest power station by capacity in the state, overtaking the 1,780MW of the Gladstone coal fired power station.
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Where are they now? What public transport data reveal about lockout laws and nightlife patronage

The Conversation, 11 April 2017
It is vital that public policy be driven by rigorous research. In the last decade key policy changes have had profound impacts on nightlife in Sydney’s inner city and suburbs. The most significant and controversial of these has been the 2014 “lockout laws”. These were a series of legislative and regulatory policies aimed at reducing alcohol-related violence and disorder through new criminal penalties and key trading restrictions, including 1.30am lockouts and a 3am end to service in select urban “hotspots”.
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