The 15-minute city model: Why now is a pivotal moment for urban climate action

Mark Watts, executive director, C40 Cities and Claus Mathisen, CEO, Urban Partners, explain why the 15-minute city concept represents a major opportunity to transform the world’s cities for the better

Why now is a pivotal moment for urban climate action

Original article published on 18 September 2023 on SmartCitiesWorld

Mark Watts, Executive Director, C40 Cities and Claus Mathisen, CEO, Urban Partners, explain why the 15-minute city concept represents a major opportunity to transform the world’s cities for the better

It’s time for a new model of sustainable, resilient and inclusive urban planning that reduces emissions, and enhances people’s quality of life, health and wellbeing

Imagine a city where every urban resident is able to meet the majority of their needs within a short walk or bike ride from home, if they so choose. Where all the places you need to get to every day – work, school, shops, doctor’s appointments, parks – are conveniently located within easy reach. A city filled with greenery and clean air, capable of delivering wide-scale health, quality of life and economic benefits to everyone, not just those in central and wealthy neighbourhoods. 

This vision is becoming reality in cities across the world, right now, through a model of urban renewal that puts nature and people at the front and centre of all planning decisions.

The need for a completely different form of planning, which restores health and prosperity to the world’s cities, has never been more pressing. A 2017 survey showed that long urban commutes are linked to higher levels of stress and poorer work performance, costing firms around a week’s worth of productivity on average.

According to estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO), almost the entire global population (around 99 per cent) breathe air that exceeds WHO air quality limits, and people in low- and middle-income countries suffer disproportionately from its ill effects. At the city level, almost nine out of ten people living in urban areas (equivalent to 2.5 billion people) are exposed to illegal levels of air pollution, contributing to 1.8 million excess deaths in 2019.

Sustainable urban planning

It’s becoming clearer to everyone – city leaders and residents alike – that the 20th century model of urban planning is no longer fit for purpose. Designed around the car rather than people, it leads to congested streets and long commutes, dirty air, urban sprawl and carbon pollution. It’s time for a new model of sustainable, resilient and inclusive urban planning that reduces emissions, and enhances people’s quality of life, health and wellbeing. 

The 15-minute city approach is being adapted in a variety of urban contexts, and known by many different names, from Portland’s “complete neighbourhoods”, to Shanghai’s “15-minute community life circles” and Bogota’s “vital neighbourhoods.” What they all share is the vision of a polycentric city made up of green and thriving neighbourhoods, with improved access to basic services for all, interconnected with accessible and affordable public transportation. 

The 15-minute city model, which combines co-location of residences and jobs, mixed land use and good access to public transport, can help cut urban emissions by 25 per cent

This model does not keep people from travelling further afield, but by putting amenities within easy reach, it enables a more socially vibrant, pleasant, connected and healthy form of urban life to materialise. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the compact and resource-efficient nature of the 15-minute city model, which combines co-location of residences and jobs, mixed land use and good access to public transport, can help cut urban emissions by 25 per cent.

It represents a major opportunity to transform the world’s cities for the better, by engendering a holistic form of urban renewal that puts people first, delivers lower emissions, improved quality of life, enhanced community cohesion and significant health, social and economic benefits. Most importantly, it is also a model that has equity and inclusivity at its heart, prioritising low-income and marginalised communities, as well as local small and medium-sized enterprises.

Green and Thriving Neighbourhoods

That’s why C40 (a network of the world’s 100 biggest cities) and Urban Partners are collaborating on the Green and Thriving Neighbourhoods programme, aimed at supporting cities to turn the 15-minute concept into reality, and ensuring concrete projects aligned with it reach fruition. We have agreed to provide support for 22 pilot projects in cities around the world, from Austin, Texas, to Guadalajara, Mexico. These pilot projects are city-led and show the transformative power of urban planning and design. 

Neighbourhoods have the ideal scale with which to experiment: they encompass different facets of city life, yet are small enough to allow for high ambitions, community engagement and new approaches tailored toward local needs.  

One of the most ambitious projects we’re supporting is focused on the Jernbanebyen area in central Copenhagen, Denmark. This 365,000m2 former railyard is being transformed into a thriving and sustainable neighbourhood with 25 per cent social housing, car-free zones and 11 acres of green space. Another exciting development is happening in Dakar, Senegal, where the city will expand public green spaces, promote micro-gardening, and build pedestrian and cycle paths to connect public and commercial infrastructure. An integrated solar energy production system will be set up to improve waste management at the household level.

Global climate targets

Projects like these serve as a reminder that cities are climate leaders and incubators for the kind of innovations that will help us meet global climate targets. 

C40 and Urban Partners will continue to work with partners to empower cities around the world to create net-zero neighbourhoods and advance climate actions at the neighbourhood level that can be scaled up to transform the world we live in. 

As the world gathers for New York Climate Week and the UN General Assembly, we urge leaders to step up and join us in our quest to create greener, healthier, equitable and livable cities. We also encourage urban developers, city leaders and other stakeholders around the world to work with us to scale up science-driven, locally-led initiatives that deliver a better quality of life for all urban residents. 

Mark Watts has served as the executive director for C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group since December 2013. Prior to joining C40, Mark was the director of consultancy firm, Arup’s, energy and climate change team. Earlier in his career, he was the climate change and sustainable transport adviser to the mayor of London, in which role the London Evening Standard described him as “the intellectual force behind Ken Livingstone’s drive to make London a leading light of the battle against global warming”.  He is also senior associate of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, a member of the Council of the Global Green Growth Institute, and a member of the Yale Climate Dialogue.

Urban challenge by the World Economic Forum aims to activate innovation ecosystems in eight fast-growing cities

Participating cities have designated neighbourhoods which will serve as urban testbeds for new businesses, products and services that can improve quality of life for local residents and mitigate social and environmental challenges.

Urban challenge by the World Economic Forum aims to activate innovation ecosystems in eight fast-growing cities

by SmartCitiesWorld news team | Published on 6 December 2021

Participating cities have designated neighbourhoods that will serve as urban testbeds for new businesses, products, and services that can improve the quality of life for local residents and mitigate social and environmental challenges.

The World Economic Forum’s Centre for Urban Transformation is launching its inaugural Urban Innovation Challenge in eight of the world’s fastest-growing cities.

It is partnering with Utopia, an urban innovation group focused on emergent cities in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and aims to activate an ecosystem of 800 innovative entrepreneurs, investors and mayors.

City testbeds

The participating cities are Bogotá (Colombia), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Lagos (Nigeria), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Jakarta (Indonesia) Kigali (Rwanda), Nairobi (Kenya) and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).

The cities have designated neighbourhoods to serve as urban testbeds for new businesses, products and services that can improve quality of life for local residents and mitigate social and environmental challenges associated with rapid urbanisation.

Entrepreneurs and early-stage start-ups with a presence in these eight locations are encouraged to apply by 22 January 2022. The winners will receive increased visibility, connection with investors, $25,000 in start-up resources and an opportunity to join the Technology Pioneers of the World Economic Forum.

Judges will come from around the world, including organisations such as Future Africa, Uber, Airbnb and Sidewalk Labs.

In collaboration with global design consultancy Ideo, start-up investor Urban Us and urban tech accelerator Urban-X, the challenge will be accompanied by a three-month programme of regular public events to build collective intelligence and bring together an imaginative community to explore urban futures. Winners will be announced in February 2022 with mayors participating.

“To revive the economy and accelerate sustainable urban development, we collaborate with multiple stakeholders and believe the Urban Innovation Challenge will nurture an urban innovation ecosystem that shapes Jakarta as a liveable city,” said Anies Rasyid Baswedan, governor of Jakarta.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu, executive governor of Lagos, said the city “teems with innovative potential” largely driven by its youthful population and added: “Our participation in the Urban Innovation Challenge is a great opportunity to harness this potential, which further underscores our commitment to enabling and empowering that spirit of innovation to create transformative value in one of the world’s densest urban landscapes.”

Jennifer Musisi, lawyer and public administrator in Kampala, is one of the judges: “So much of Africa’s urban growth is happening these next few decades. The Urban Innovation Challenge encourages young people all across the continent to help build the better futures of their cities.

“Governments can see entrepreneurs as key allies in tackling complex challenges, improving their cities for the many.”

Entrepreneurs can learn more and apply at

Article retrieved from

Photo from Unsplash of Jakarta (one of the eight cities in the challenge):

Seoul Metropolitan Government deploys drones to fight air pollution
The Seoul Metropolitan Government is seeking to induce large companies to voluntarily cut emissions while actively cracking down on the operation of unauthorized or restricted facilities.

South Korean capital deploys drones to fight air pollution

by SmartCitiesWorld news team | Published on 10 December 2021

Seoul’s city government will use drones and measurement vehicles to closely monitor fine dust emissions in the construction and industry sectors.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) is seeking to induce large companies to voluntarily cut emissions while actively cracking down on the operation of unauthorized or restricted facilities.

Fine dust monitoring

Additionally, SMG plans to deploy 55 inspection teams to monitor businesses and construction sites during the third seasonal fine dust monitoring period (December 2021 to March 2022).

Large construction sites subject to environmental impact assessment (EIA), and in areas congested with small businesses will come under the joint inspection of the SMG and the Metropolitan Air Quality Management Office.

When drones and measurement vehicles detect a high density of contaminants, inspection teams will be dispatched to conduct an on-site investigation of the suspect facility. Any violation of regulation may result in accusations, fines, or administrative penalties under Seoul’s zero-tolerance policy.

SMG cautions that businesses creating a significant amount of fine dust should voluntarily cut the amount during the seasonal monitoring period.

Furthermore, Seoul plans to introduce more stringent control systems than before. It will, for example, run a pilot programme where private companies run eco-friendly construction sites for large-scale construction deals.

To help kick-start an on-site inspection system where citizens can participate, the SMG hired 50 citizen inspectors in October, and these inspectors have been patrolling and monitoring air pollutants in neighbourhoods on a daily basis from November.

The monitoring process is currently divided into automatic detection apparatus for chimneys of large facilities, while IoT-powered measuring devices, and simplified fine dust measuring devices are used for construction sites. Seoul plans to integrate them and conduct monitoring through the integrated air environment information system.

“We will increase our effort to reduce high-density fine dust by aggressively monitoring major emitting sources during the seasonal monitoring period,” said Ha Dong-Joon, director of Air Quality Policy Division.

Asking for citizen participation, he added: “Please do not hesitate to report businesses or construction sites suspicious of emitting air pollutants.”

Article retrieved from

Photo from of Seoul, South Korea from Unsplash:

Webinar - Kyoto: the Japanese start-up community powering the future of smart cities

Dubbed the cultural capital of Japan, Kyoto has been at the forefront of the start-up scene for decades and a focal point of the country’s innovative spirit. This webinar will give insight into what makes Keihanna Science City unique and will hear from one of the executives behind the Keihanna Global Acceleration Program Plus incubator, as well as some of the program’s most successful start-ups sharing their experiences.

Webinar: Kyoto: the Japanese start-up community powering the future of smart cities

by SmartCitiesWorld

Date Recorded: 30 March 2021

Length: 60 mins, including Q&A

Dubbed the cultural capital of Japan, Kyoto has been at the forefront of the start-up scene for decades and a focal point of the country’s innovative spirit.

Keihanna Science City is one of the most successful start-up hubs, hosting more than 150 research facilities and incubating fledging companies with game-changing ideas, from energy, mobility and healthcare to agriculture, security and municipal services.

This webinar will give insight into what makes Keihanna Science City unique and will hear from one of the executives behind the Keihanna Global Acceleration Program Plus incubator, as well as some of the program’s most successful start-ups sharing their experiences.

There will also be a Q&A session from the audience.


1) Hiroyuki Suzuki

Executive Vice President, Representative Director

Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR).

After a career in telecoms technology, Suzuki moved to ATR and is in charge of corporate management and planning, and business developments. He is also developing the global innovation ecosystem in Keihanna Science City together with local governments, companies, start-ups, universities, research institutes, and local residents, based on global networks constructed with leading innovation partners in Barcelona, Canada, India, Israel, New York City and Japan.

2) Shoji Koike

Head of Global Sales, Synspective Inc.

Synspective uses satellites and customised platforms to analyse their data. Since reaching $100 million in funding in July 2019, the company has released two products, one for monitoring land displacement and one aimed at flood damage assessment.

Coming from 20 years of satellite telecommunication sales & marketing experience out in the Southeast Asia to the Middle East, Shoji found his new home at Synspective back in his old city of Tokyo, leading their Global SaaS solution sales since mid-2020. Reaching out to new prospects in new sectors, new territories with new products are what Shoji has excelled for the number of years for organizations of various levels. Together with Synspective, Shoji aims to challenge the limits of the boundaries in the new radar satellite data driven world.

3) Nanmoku Toworu

Founder and CXO, XPAND

XPAND is a super-contactless technology designed to read data from large scale signage at a distance. Use cases are being developed for public transport, smart cities, sports, outdoor advertising and games.

For many years Toworu has been involved in design for the public transport sector, notably the design of the information systems installed in all Tokyo Metro stations. His experience led him to invent the XPAND Code, which harmonises with the space and works as an add-on to the QR code, and he founded XPAND K.K. in 2017.

4) Dr. Sandor Markon

CEO, Linearity Co

Established in 2017 in Kyoto, Linearity is developing next-generation elevator technology powered by linear motors. Similar to the technology used in maglev trains and some rollercoasters, Linearity’s innovation enables elevators to run in any direction and for multiple elevators to run on the same track.

In addition to founding Linearity in 2017, he is a professor at the Kobe Institute of Computing, founded Parity Innovations and also serves as an expert at the International Telecommunication Union.

5) Yukihiro Sakaori

Founder & CEO, Hyperia

Born in Japan, spent childhood in California and New York. 15 years of business experience in Global Gas and Power supply with Shell, Noble and Engie.

Experienced a major internal fraud caused by one of the colleagues in the mid-2010, which led to a strong interest in Blockchain technology. Established Hyperia Corp. in 2019 after researching and studying Blockchain adoption at both corporate and personal levels.

6) Graeme Neill

Editor, SmartCitiesWorld

Graeme has many years of experience as a B2B journalist and editor, specialising in technological innovation and its impact in cities.

Retrieved from

Sacramento's sustainable mobility hub gets the green light

The Sacramento Valley Station Area plan bids to turn the station into one of the most sustainable public places in California, and has already been granted a certification for environmental innovation.

Sacramento's sustainable mobility hub gets the green light

by SmartCitiesWorld news team | 19 April 2021

The Sacramento Valley Station Area plan bids to turn the station into one of the most sustainable public places in California, and has already been granted a certification for environmental innovation.

Sacramento City Council has approved plans to turn its historic train station (401 I Street) into an environmentally friendly regional mobility hub.

The Sacramento Valley Station Area plan bids to turn the station into one of the most sustainable public places in California, and has already been granted a certification for environmental innovation – the Living Community Challenge Vision Plan.

The Living Community Challenge (LCC) provides a framework for master planning, design and construction and rewards plans that are socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative.

“This plan is more than four years in the making,” said project manager Greg Taylor. “The plan positions Sacramento as a regional centre for sustainable transportation and a leader in sustainable design technologies, which will help combat climate change.”

He continued: “Achieving this certification aligns our significant city and regional resource with the mayor and City Council’s agenda on climate action,” Taylor said. “Sacramento is the first city in the world to achieve this recognition.”

The plan is designed to connect pedestrians and transit users to infill development areas within the Central City and provides a mix of uses including residential, hotel and offices. All the buildings within the development will run on 100 per cent renewable energy. The new station will provide Sacramento with new civic open spaces for everyone.

“The placement of market-rate and affordable housing, office space, hotel, community spaces, and amenities like restaurants, shops, pedestrian plazas and bike trails complement the convergence of trains, regional and local buses, light rail and micro-transportation offering at this regional multi-modal hub,” added Geeti Silwal, a principal and urban designer at Perkins&Will.

“The goal is to make the Sacramento Valley Station area more than just a point along a journey, but a destination of its own.”

The design team involved the community in the process through numerous public meetings with more than 50 stakeholder groups. The plan is led by the City and global design firm Perkins&Will in partnership with Arup, and Grimshaw Architects, EPS, and Aim Consulting.

The City is actively seeking funding for the first phase, which involves the construction of the bus centre which could begin in 2026.

Retrieved from

Cover Photo by Perkins&Will: The mobility hub aims to become a destination in its own right.

Smart City Tracker: The Top Stories of 2020 (by SmartCitiesWorld)

Smart city technology has proven powerful at helping cities around the world battle Covid-19, as our annual review shows, and it will continue to be required throughout 2021.

Smart City Tracker: The Top Stories of 2020

by SmartCitiesWorld News Team | 23 December 2020

Smart city technology has proven powerful at helping cities around the world battle Covid-19, as our annual review shows, and it will continue to be required throughout 2021.

SmartCitiesWorld ran its first coronavirus-related story on 10 March, reporting that Bloomberg Philanthropies, working with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, had launched a new programme of support to help US mayors respond to the rapidly evolving situation.

Michael Bloomberg, who had just dropped out of the US presidential race, announced the coronavirus Local Response Initiative, which aimed to provide cities with virtual technical assistance, coaching and accurate information to help local leaders on the frontlines of the public health crisis.

A press statement said that “As the virus continues to spread through communities around the world, with devastating impact on the wellbeing of residents and local economies, it has fallen to mayors to step up to direct the response”.

Within two weeks, Covid-19 was dominating our news coverage and, in April, we launched the Covid Effect hub, which remains a one-stop shop for all of our coverage on the global pandemic.

Throughout 2020, smart city technology has proven powerful in the battle against Covid-19 and, with news of a new variant, it will continue to be instrumental in helping cities and communities put in place measures to tackle its impact.

We’ll continue to bring you news of the tools and technologies that can help in the ongoing fight against the coronavirus as well as share learning and practices from around the globe. In the meantime, we take a look back at the top 10 most popular stories posted in 2020 on SmartCitiesWorld

1. South Korea to step-up online coronavirus tracking

Central and local governments in South Korea were among the first to employ the use of technology to track the virus by sending real-time alerts via text message, apps and online on the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus as well as the travel histories of those infected. In March, we reported how a “self-quarantine safety protection” app, developed by the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, allows those who have been quarantined to stay in touch with caseworkers. The Corona 100m (Co100) app, launched on February 11, had a million downloads in its first 10 days after launch.

2. Bogotá expands bike lanes to curb coronavirus spread

Also in March, the Colombian capital of Bogotá announced that it was opening 76km (47 miles) of temporary bike lanes to reduce crowding on public transport and help prevent the spread of coronavirus, as well as to improve air quality. A statement from the mayor’s office said: “The bicycle, being an individual means of transport, represents one of the most hygienic alternatives for the prevention of the virus, especially in this first preventive stage in which it is recommended to avoid close contact and crowds.”

3. LA rolls out pre-paid cards for Covid-19 financial assistance

In April, the City of Los Angeles said it would provide pre-paid debit cards to get financial assistance to the most in-need residents faster amid the pandemic. The programme was to be deployed with Accelerator for America and Mastercard’s City Possible, and the partners reckon the approach could be quickly scaled to other cities. Funds were distributed via no-fee, pre-paid debit cards, enabled by City Possible, to citizens experiencing financial hardship due to Covid-19-related job losses or furloughing.

4. Amsterdam adopts first city doughnut model for circular economy

In April, we reported on the City of Amsterdam’s Circular 2020-2025 strategy, which outlined actions to halve the use of new raw materials by 2030. The strategy is based on what Amsterdam reports as “the world’s first City Doughnut” economic model. The city aims to have a completely circular economy by 2050, based on reusing raw materials to avoid waste and reduce Co2 emissions.

5. Singapore tops smart city ranking for second year running

In September, Singapore topped the Institute for Management Development (IMD) Smart City Index for the second consecutive year, followed by the Finnish capital Helsinki and Swiss city of Zurich. The ranking is based on citizens’ perception of the impact that technology has on their quality of lives as well as economic and technological data. It included key findings on how technology is playing a role in the Covid-19 era.

6. ‘Drivers are guests’: How Oslo cut traffic deaths to almost zero in 2019

In January, we reported on the news that, in 2019, a single driver died in a traffic accident in Oslo, down from five in 2018 and that no pedestrians, children or cyclists at all were killed on the roads last year in the Norwegian capital. Figures from the Norwegian Public Roads Administration show the number of deaths on Oslo’s roads has fallen sharply, down from 41 deaths in 1975. The country has a ‘vision zero’ strategy, implemented in 2001, focused on reducing crashes that can lead to fatalities and serious injuries.

7. Boston launches Covid-19 data dashboards for residents

The Boston Department of Innovation and Technology’s Citywide Analytics Team launched two dashboards in March that allowed residents to track the number of coronavirus cases in the city and throughout Massachusetts. Mayor Marty Walsh said: “Ensuring residents have accurate, up-to-date information about the coronavirus is critical during this challenging time. These dashboards are another resource for residents to gather information and stay informed as we follow public health guidelines to keep ourselves and each other safe.”

8. How 5G-powered robots are helping China fight coronavirus

Artificial intelligence has been central to many solutions developed to battle the virus. In March, we reported how China was using 5G patrol robots to monitor mask-wearing and body temperatures in public places airports and shopping malls in cities such as Guangzhou, Shanghai, Xi’an and Guiyang. Meanwhile, intelligent disinfection robots developed in a week from design to sample production by Siemens and Aucma were to be used in some of China’s hospitals.

9. Sidewalk Labs shuts down Toronto smart city project

In May, it was announced that Google affiliate Sidewalk Labs was shelving its controversial Toronto smart city plans, citing the impact of coronavirus and “unprecedented economic uncertainty”. The abrupt announcement marked the end of a project that had been delayed several times and received strong criticism in some quarters from citizens and privacy campaigners to its own advisors.

10. Covid-19 accelerates the adoption of smart city tech to build resilience

Also in May, a report from ABI Research highlighted how drones, new types of surveillance, digital twins and real-time dashboards were among the technologies emerging in new use cases by cities during the coronavirus pandemic. Analysis by the global tech market advisory firm showed that city governments are adjusting to a new reality with Covid-19 driving urban resilience and digital transformation strategy agendas.

Retrieved from

Photo of Seoul, South Korea from Unsplash by Mathew Schwartz (@cadop)

36 cities chosen to chart a course towards the future
The World Economic Forum has chosen the cities to pioneer a global policy roadmap developed by its G20 Smart Cities Alliance for the ethical and responsible use of data and technology.

36 cities chosen to chart a course towards the future

by SmartCitiesWorld news team​ | 18 Nov 2020

Thirty-six cities across 22 countries and six continents have agreed to pioneer a new roadmap for safely adopting new technology as part of the World Economic Forum’s G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance.

The roadmap is designed to give cities the procedures, laws and regulations they need to use new technology responsibly. The initiative originated in Japan last year from WEF’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The cities will adopt policies for privacy protection, better broadband coverage, accountability for cybersecurity, increased openness of city data, and better accessibility to digital city services for disabled and elderly people

Confronting the challenges

Cities are facing urgent challenges from the Covid-19 pandemic and other major disruptions, which WEF highlights is expected to culminate in a budget crisis that could reach $1trillion in the US alone.

The forum contends that cities need data and innovation to become more resilient, responsive and efficient but highlights that there is no global framework for how they should use these technologies, or the data they collect, in a way that protects the public interest.

“This roadmap is not about theoretical ideas and pipe dreams, it is built on practical, real-world policies from leading cities around the globe,” said Jeff Merritt, head of the Internet of Things and urban transformation, World Economic Forum. “City governments are on the frontline of a global crisis and need to be able to act quickly and decisively to curtail this pandemic and set course for their economic recovery.

“Technology is an essential tool in this fight but governments cannot risk falling into the usual traps related to privacy, security and vendor lock-in. That’s where the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance can help.”

WEF has chosen the 36 “pioneer cities” that will kickstart the roadmap and will collaborate with global experts to enhance their city policies, in areas ranging from privacy protection and cybersecurity to better services for disabled people and better broadband coverage.

The pioneer cities are launching their activities at the online global event Smart City Live 2020, broadcast by Smart City Expo World Congress on 17-18 November.

The 36 pioneer cities are:

  • Apeldoorn, Netherlands
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Belfast, UK
  • Bengaluru, India
  • Bilbao, Spain
  • Bogotá, Colombia
  • Brasilia, Brazil
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Chattanooga, US
  • Cordoba, Argentina
  • Daegu, South Korea
  • Dubai, UAE
  • eThekwini (Durban), South Africa
  • Faridabad, India
  • Gaziantep, Turkey
  • Hamamatsu, Japan
  • Hyderabad, India
  • Indore, India
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Kaga, Japan
  • Kakogawa, Japan
  • Kampala, Uganda
  • Karlsruhe, Germany
  • Leeds, UK
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • London, UK
  • Maebashi, Japan
  • Manila, Philippines
  • Medellín, Colombia
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Milan, Italy
  • Moscow, Russia
  • Newcastle, Australia
  • San José, US
  • Toronto, Canada

“Technology and knowledge are two strategic assets to build inclusive, data-driven, and sustainable smart cities capable of tackling new and emerging challenges,” said Roberta Cocco, deputy mayor for digital transformation and services to citizens, Milan. “That is why Milan is joining the G20 Global Smart City Alliance, as this initiative will allow us to share best practices with innovative cities around the world.

“Today more than ever, in fact, we need to collaborate with each other to identify the most effective tools to face global threats like Covid-19. It is only by joining our forces that we can beat this common enemy that is threatening the health, the economy, and the future of our citizens.”

Several orgnisations are also participating in the project, including engineering, architectural and consultancy firm, Arup. The company’s digital services leader Will Cavendish said Covid-19 has driven a step-change in the use of digital services in cities, and many of these changes will only accelerate beyond the pandemic.

He added: “The policies developed by the G20 Smart Cities Alliance will be fundamental in ensuring that the enabling digital connectivity and data infrastructures, along with the rapidly-emerging technology-enabled services, are deployed in an inclusive, transparent and mutually beneficial manner.”

Article retrieved from

Photo from Unsplash of Bengaluru, India by Andrea Leopardi (@whatyouhide)

US cities pledge to play their part in supporting global trillion trees movement
31 August 2020 - The cities of Boise, Dallas, Detroit, and Tucson are among those committing to help combat extreme heat and wildfires, as well as other adverse effects of climate change, by protecting and planting more trees.
31 August 2020 - The US cities of Boise, Dallas, Detroit, and Tucson are among those committing to help combat extreme heat and wildfires, as well as other adverse effects of climate change, by conserving, restoring, and growing more than 855 million trees.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has announced that such pledges by 26 companies, cities, and organizations across the US mark the launch of the its chapter of, the global trillion trees movement.

Advancing goals

The US is home to the first regional chapter of Pledges demonstrate an advancement of conservation, restoration, and reforestation goals within the US and internationally, a significant effort and achievement toward the trillion trees goal. Trees pledged will cover 2.8 million acres.

The City of Boise launched the City of Trees Challenge on Arbor Day 2020, calling on the city and its residents to plant 100,000 trees (approximately one for each Boise household) within city limits. The initiative will also sponsor 235,000 seedlings (approximately one for every Boise resident) to be planted in forests around Idaho.

The City of Dallas has launched the Urban Forest Initiative which, as well as pledging to protect millions of trees within the city through the implementation of a Tree Ordinance, is implementing “Branching Out Dallas” to plant more than 600 trees per year in Dallas parks, and to plant more than 2,500 trees per year on private property. Together, these programs aim to plant about 31,000 native Texas trees in 10 years.

The City of Detroit has pledged to plant 50,000 trees throughout its seven council districts between 2020-30 in an effort to restore its tree canopy for the future, while Regina Romero, mayor of Tucson, has committed to planting one million trees by 2030 to increase the city’s canopy.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Region Trees Initiative has pledged to improve the health of the urban forest in the Chicago Region and increase the city’s tree canopy by four percent by 2050.

American Forest Foundation, Arbor Day Foundation, Bank of America, Mastercard, Microsoft, National Association of State Foresters, National Forest Foundation, Salesforce are also among the organizations which have committed to invest in creating healthy forests.

WEF and American Forests are leading the initiative and will provide individuals and organizations in the US with the tools and technical assistance they need to create and bring their pledges to life.

As independent and non-partisan institutions, they are supported by US Stakeholder Council, a bipartisan group of senior-level representatives from government, business, civil society, and academia who are informing the strategic direction of the initiative.

Healthy and resilient forests are a key part of efforts to combat the negative impacts of climate change. Studies have shown trees can reduce temperatures by 9 degrees and energy costs by $7.8bn a year. The chance of extreme wildfires occurring also decreases dramatically when forests are managed properly by, for example, planting specially-selected tree species in burned areas and using novel planting techniques for resilience to future wildfires.

“We have seen enormous energy and enthusiasm to conserve and restore our forests,” said Justin Adams, director of Nature Based Solutions, WEF. “A nature-positive recovery is crucial to a great reset of our society and economy. Putting trees at the heart of this reset will help ensure it is sustainable for us and future generations.”

Health and economic benefits

WEF also highlights how investing in forests will also help improve the economy and public health. In the US alone, every $1m invested in tree planting and other forest restoration activities creates almost 40 jobs. Globally, sustainable management of forests would create $230bn in business opportunities and 16 million jobs worldwide by 2030. From a health perspective, trees absorb 17.4 million tons of air pollutants a year, helping to prevent 670,000 cases of asthma and other acute respiratory symptoms annually.

In America, forests and forest products currently capture 15 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. Conserving, restoring, and growing trees can enable US forests to capture nearly double the emissions.

WEF launched at this year’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. It is designed to support the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 whose goals are to accelerate global restoration of degraded ecosystems, to fight the climate crisis, enhance food security, provide clean water and protect biodiversity on the planet.


Image of Boise, Idaho from Unsplash by Alden Skeie

Without smart transport networks, smart cities’ potential will not be realised
24 July 2020 - Cities need to implement intelligent road management solutions in order to support citizens and businesses, writes Huawei’s Hong-Eng Koh.
24 July 2020 - Technology may continue to transform our lives but the humble road will remain the veins of our cities. Roads have fuelled human ingenuity for centuries and are as critical today as they were hundreds of years ago. No matter how smart a city may be, all aspects of it will grind to a halt with an inefficient road network. Residents can lose several days of productivity each year thanks to congestion– whether in fast-growing cities in Asia such as Jakarta or Bangkok, Latin America such as Bogota or Rio de Janeiro, or European cities ill-suited to cars like Paris or Rome.

Solving these issues is not simple, even with the advent of smart city technology. Collecting data from a digital road traffic network is difficult. The sheer volume of (literally) moving parts produces huge amounts of data, straining both software and hardware. And there is a variety of issues to solve, from directing the flow efficiently through a city and reducing the number of crashes to clamping down on traffic violations.

At Huawei, a three-pronged approach to traffic management ensures the smoother running of a city; Sharp Eyes detecting issues, a Powerful Brain analysing data, and Simplified Operations and Management ensuring the smooth running of a road network. Our Intelligent Management Solution unifies these and is being successfully deployed in many cities globally, including Yanbu, Lahore and Cote D’Ivoire.

Pinpointing traffic violations

Our Sharp Eyes system can turn every junction into a checkpoint monitoring traffic movement and violation. Software-defined cameras supporting more than 20 algorithms pick up traffic violations from occupying emergency lanes to running red lights.

Its recognition accuracy rates are more than 95 per cent, accident detection in eight seconds, and can monitor up to 200 metres in all-weather and low and bright light conditions. Twenty TOPS computing power optimises image quality where necessary.

Even as a standalone system, Sharp Eyes can help a city enforce traffic law by monitoring and reviewing potential violations and processing penalties where necessary.

Intelligent analysis delivering vehicle check and control

Our Powerful Brain functionality uses big data analytics to find vehicles of interest, querying up to hundreds of millions of data records to find the necessary information within seconds. Users can access more than 100 algorithms through the service’s Multi-Algorithm Warehouse, opening the door to ever more sophisticated solutions.

It can serve as a safety net for the police, by offering secondary image analysis to provide back-end monitoring of violations. This means police can monitor more kinds of crime, make combating and preventing vehicle-related crime more efficient.

Its functionality also extends into traffic management, with the software able to sense traffic in all locations at any time. The sophistication and minimal latencies of the solution means cities can be swiftly made aware of potential congestion and control traffic lights to smooth bottlenecks of vehicles.

Managing traffic through simplified operations

The data collecting and processing features sit within an integrated design allowing flexible deployment. It runs on Huawei’s own PowerCube 500 technology, which requires no on-site cabling.

Huawei’s eSight operations and management technology allows cities to manage more than 200,000 devices while an intelligent site planning tool helps to improve deployment efficiency by 30 per cent.

Smoother running cities mean smarter cities

Lahore has been the most widespread deployment of Huawei’s Intelligent Management Solution to date and the technology has swiftly had an impact on the Pakistani city’s road network. The city’s transport network has been under strain thanks to mass migration in the wake of booming economic growth. Roads were a chaotic mix of cars, motorcycles, buses, and carriages.

More than 800 onboard cameras, 130 portable tripod-mounted cameras, 80 automatic number plate recognition sites, 270 license plate recognition cameras, 110 e-police sites, 900 e-police cameras, 130 traffic light sites, and 300 traffic flow sensors were rolled out across the city.

Huawei’s system quickly got to grips with the city’s traffic problems, recording more than 60 million violations since deployment in 2017. In the first two months, more than 130,000 electronic tickets were issued to offending road users. The infrastructure also helped reduce red light violations by two thirds and traffic accidents by 83 per cent, with a corresponding relaxation of congestion across the city.

Another successful deployment was in Cote d’Ivoire, where Huawei worked with partners to deploy a traffic management network across the city of Abidjan. This comprised more than 10 traffic guidance screens, six e-Police cameras, over 20 licence plate recognition cameras and more than 10 automatic number plate recognition systems. This network gives a flexible and comprehensive picture of traffic movements across the city and has had a demonstrable effect on reducing violations and improving efficiency.

Meanwhile in the Saudi city of Yanbu, traffic violations fell by 60 per cent after more than 250 high definition cameras were installed alongside e-Police facilities at 16 major junctions.

Living smart, moving smart

Roads have underpinned trade, investment and our societies for centuries and have been robust enough to bear the effects of innovation in how we travel. Population growth and the lure of cities have meant road networks are ever more vital to a healthy society.

However, this requires flexible, secure and intelligent infrastructure to ensure the safe and efficient flow of people and vehicles. It also needs to be robust enough to absorb any unexpected change. Covid-19 has demonstrated how travel networks need to be able to adapt sharply to any event.

Huawei’s Intelligent Traffic Management solution makes it easier for cities to manage their roads. This means cities will have the freedom and resources to devote to other tasks and fuel further innovation. An intelligent road network is critical for an intelligent city that is home to a healthy and productive population. What was true centuries ago is true today.

About the author:

Hong-Eng Koh has 30 years of government operations and ICT knowledge and experience, including the years with the Singapore Police and subsequently driving the Singapore national e-Government program. Before joining Huawei to lead the Global Government Industry Expert Office, he spent 16 years in Oracle holding various government business lead roles, including the global lead for public safety.

A globally recognized industry expert, he was voted by the US based Security.World as the world’s top 12 market influencers in security. He was a visiting researcher at the China Public Security University, and currently serving on the expert panel of the Geneva-based Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

Over the years, he developed various government digital transformation concepts and architectures, such as collaborative e-Government in the age of the sharing economy, Social-Enabled Policing, and Collaborative Public Safety. In 2018, he created the 7A framework in identifying use cases for AI adoption to accelerate government digital transformation.


Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

London mayor progresses plans to create more green spaces
24 July 2020 - Two new woodlands will be created in London’s Green Belt, the majority of which is not public open space despite making up 22 percent of the capital’s land area. 
24 July 2020 - The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, wants to create more green space in London and has confirmed his plans to create two new woodlands as part of his work to protect and improve the Green Belt.

In a separate announcement, Khan has also launched an online cycling course to give people more confidence to start cycling. It supports the Streetspace for London programme which is rapidly rolling out more space for people to walk and cycle.

New woodlands

Two new woodlands spanning over 84 hectares will be created in Havering and Enfield with close to 140,000 trees planted in the newly acquired areas, which were previously inaccessible to the public.

The woodlands will be located in London’s Green Belt, the majority of which is not public open space despite making up 22 per cent of the capital’s land area. 

London became the world’s first National Park City a year ago but despite an extensive network of parks and open spaces, some communities don’t have access to a garden or a public green space close to their home.

Black and minority ethnic Londoners, for example, are four times less likely to have access to an outdoor space in general. To address some of these inequalities, the mayor has funded 270 community green space projects, planting more than 280,000 trees in the capital.

Enfield Council will receive a grant of £748,000 to restore the formerly wooded Enfield Chase area to create 60 hectares of new publicly accessible woodland. The project will also fund improvements to 3km of walking and cycling routes to improve access for local communities through the newly created woodland.  

The Woodland Trust has also been awarded £493,082 to secure land and extend Hainault Forest in Havering with new tree planting, which will create a new wildlife corridor between the forest and Hainault Country Park. The project will enable year-round public access to a previously private area of green space in an area currently lacking public open space. 

Tree-planting will start in November 2020 and will play a vital role in enhancing London’s green belt. New woodland will help address the climate and ecological emergencies through storing carbon, reducing flood risk and enhancing biodiversity.

More than 600 local volunteers are expected to plant trees at the sites on special community planting days, encouraging a connection and sense of ownership from the beginning. The projects will also create new jobs and opportunities in woodland management.  

“More than ever, London’s green spaces are not only vital to people’s mental and physical wellbeing, but also to reducing inequality across the city,” said Khan.

“The Government this week announced concerning changes to the planning system, showing little regard for the environment. I want today’s announcements to show how we can lead the way kickstarting a green recovery in London, continuing to prioritise the new green spaces that will help deliver huge social and environmental benefits that Londoners deserve.” 

Cycling course

The mayor and Transport for London (TfL) are committed to a green, sustainable recovery from coronavirus, and putting in place measures that will reduce the risk of a damaging car-based recovery.

The Cycle Skills course, which is available on the TfL website, covers everything from getting bikes set up for a first ride to tips for cycling safety with children in one place,and is tailored to cycling in London.

Everyone who completes the four training modules will be sent a free Santander Cycles 24-hour access code, enabling them to start putting the skills they’ve learnt into practice.

TfL has also secured £2m from the Department for Transport for cycle training in London, which will be delivered via the London boroughs. Each borough will be allocated £60,000 to deliver socially distanced Bikeability and Cycle Skills training from August onwards.

The mayor announced the City Hall investment during a visit to Pimlico to try out the upgraded newly segregated cycle route between Chelsea Bridge and Lambeth Bridge. Streetspace funding has enabled pole cones to be added along the 2.4km route to protect people cycling from other traffic.

This upgraded route will play a vital role in allowing thousands more journeys to be made by bike. It is a key corridor for people cycling into central London and TfL modelling shows it has one of the highest potential demand for cycling of any road in the capital. During lockdown, a section of it was the third most popular UK route logged on Strava, with almost 50,000 journeys logged along Milbank Embankment.

In addition, 17km of new cycle lanes have been created through the Streetspace for London programme so far, with a further 20km under construction. Segregated cycle lanes trebled in the first four years of Sadiq’s mayoralty from 53km to 162km. More than 15,000m2 of extra pavement space has been delivered through the Streetspace programme so far to enable social distancing and encourage people to make journeys on foot.

“Walking and cycling will be absolutely central to London’s recovery from coronavirus and our Streetspace programme is making sure everybody who wants to cycle can do so easily and safely,” said Sophie Edmondson, principal sponsor for cycling at TfL.

She continued: “Our newly upgraded cycle route between Chelsea Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge will make thousands of journeys to and from central London safer and our new online Cycle Skills course will help people to cycle with confidence. We’ll continue to work closely with London’s boroughs to ensure everybody can benefit from extra space and improved infrastructure.”


Image by ZDRAVKO BATALIC from Pixabay