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

Power Plays: The Increasingly Competitive Electricity Landscape

Unless their cities run their own municipal utilities, most local governments have had little involvement in what electricity costs their residents. Historically, this has been the domain of private companies: the investor-owned utilities that are regulated by state-level public utility commissions. This monopoly arrangement created a secure energy environment but placed the retail pricing of electricity and its sourcing -- such as from coal, gas or solar -- well outside the control of consumers or local governments.


Can Smart Infrastructure Be Cyber-Secure?

Many cities are rapidly deploying "smart" infrastructure technologies that promise to preserve and even enhance quality of life in an increasingly congested and urbanized world. Networked through fiber optics and wireless broadband, sensors embedded in buildings, in roadways, and in water, waste and energy systems generate enormous quantities of data used to reduce traffic congestion, optimize water and energy use, and make the environment more comfortable and safe.