What It Means to Be a 'Smart City'

Like self-driving cars, "smart cities" are getting a lot of attention these days. And rightfully so, considering their broad range of potential benefits, from more sustainable use of resources and enhanced resilience to improved citizen engagement, urban mobility and public safety. Realizing significant improvements in even a few of these would make building out a smart city a worthwhile goal.


Tailoring Our Transportation Systems for Self-Driving Cars

There are many compelling reasons to adopt connected and autonomous vehicle technology in our transportation systems. Safety is undoubtedly at the top of the list: Highway fatalities account for 93 percent of all U.S. transportation-related deaths and, as the Eno Center for Transportation points out, driver error is the main factor in over 90 percent of vehicle crashes. Vehicle automation technology, with its promise to greatly reduce crashes -- and even eliminate them completely -- would seem to be the ultimate safety solution.


How Transportation Planning Is Stuck in the Past

For all we hear about the impact that technology and social changes are having on urban mobility, you'd certainly expect to see their influence reflected in city transportation planning. For the most part, unfortunately, this simply isn't the case.


How Will We Handle a Sky Full of Drones?

Drones have captured the public's, and the media's, imagination. We're hearing about everything from a Swiss postal service project to deliver packages through the Alps to remote villages and Amazon's envisioned "Prime Air" 30-minute package delivery service to reconnaissance for search and rescue missions and drone-based inspections of electrical transmission lines.

But unmanned aerial vehicles are creating their share of problems. There have been near collisions with piloted aircraft, instances of interference with wildfire operations in California and, most notably, drone crashes into the New York state Capitol building and onto the White House lawn. READ MORE

How Washington, D.C.’s Broken Bikeshare Program Became a National Leader

This article is an edited excerpt from Gabe Klein’s new book Start-Up City, published October 2015. 

When I took over at the Washington, D.C., Department of Transportation in 2008, I was intrigued with the new SmartBike program that had launched just prior to my arrival. SmartBike was the first bikeshare program in North America. Although only a small fraction of the size of the successful European bike-sharing systems at the time (100 as opposed to a few thousand bikes), and perhaps even dinkier in terms of the bikes themselves, the concept was right up my alley. READ MORE