This summer, NPR's Cities Project has been looking at how cities around the world are solving problems using new technologies. And though there's great promise in many of these "smart" city programs, New York University's Anthony Townsend remains skeptical.
Townsend, whose book Smart Cities is due out in October, tells NPR's David Greene about the causes, benefits and potential dangers of the smart city boom.
Miami Public Service Aide Tatayana Harris enters information into her laptop after clearing an accident in Miami's Little Havana community. Harris has been a Miami Police PSA for five years and hopes to become a police officer.
When the 911 phone system was established, it gave citizens a fast, easy way to reach police in an emergency.
But it also created a logistical challenge for law enforcement: Police departments get so many calls, 911 can be as much a burden as a boon. Many calls are non-emergencies, and responding can take police away from situations where they're really needed.
Micaela Torres and 2-year-old Jakai Johnson swing underneath a surveillance camera at Miwok Park in Elk Grove, Calif. The city's police department collects more than 100 video feeds from across the city.
Surveillance cameras, and the sophisticated software packages that go with them, have become big business. Many small- and medium-sized cities across American are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on cameras and software to watch their residents.
The Spanish city of Santander is using a network of sensors to help improve services and save money. Incidents reported to Santander's command-and-control center, where the city manages data from sensors and smartphone reports made by citizens, are plotted on a map of the city.
Aside from the occasional ferry down from England, the old Spanish port city of Santander doesn't get too many foreign visitors. So imagine the locals' surprise when delegations from Google, Microsoft and the Japanese government all landed there recently, to literally walk the streets.
Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 6:16 pm
Bernard Goutier, 25, has served time in prison twice. He's now learning construction skills with Emerge Connecticut, which offers paid on-the-job training, literacy classes and support groups to ex-offenders.