Passport’s Picks of the Week
With the 2016 Summer Olympics quickly approaching, 28-mile bike highways enhancing Paris’s transportation system, and having the ability to control your smartphone solely with eye movements – this week’s Picks of the Weeks has us all wondering how exactly these innovations will impact transportation.
As we brace ourselves for the next best transportation innovation, get a glimpse into the latest trending articles the Passport team has been reading:
The summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil, are upon us. Cue: buying all things red, white, and blue. As the games approach, many of us wonder exactly how each city preps for the Olympics. Transportation is one of the main concerns for many cities – as it should be. With the games, comes thousands of people visiting the city, which means there’s a huge need for smooth transit options and convenient routes to keep the city functional. In order to even submit a bid for the 2024 Olympic games, cities are requesting federal funding to expedite the expansion of light rail or metro services. Like we said, transportation is huge. As a city, one of the top priorities is making sure transit systems are fully equipped to handle the masses.
Controlling your smartphone with your eyes is possible, well at least it’s going to be. Researchers are making mobile software that allows users to utilize their phone with their eye movement. Real-time has just been taken to another level. As they begin crowdsourcing their efforts by compiling users gaze information, researchers from MIT, University of Georgia, and Germany’s Max Plancks Institute for Informatics are training the software to fully rely on eye movement. For now, the software is able to identify where a person is looking with an “accuracy of about a centimeter on a mobile phone and 1.7 centimeters on a tablet”. Although the software is making headway, it’s still not as accurate as it needs to be for consumer appliances considering the size of a smartphone or tablet.
Mobile traffic app, Waze helps direct people to the fastest and less congested route through the app. It has totally changed the game for commuters and has continued to be a mobile staple for many, however, many are lying to the app to prevent it from routing through their neighborhoods. Take Takoma Park, MD, for example. The quiet neighborhood outside Washington, DC, has been reporting false traffic issues in their neighborhood to avoid traffic that Waze has been routing through their neighborhood. Although they feel that lying to the app is working, it really does not. When one person reports an ‘accident’ on a street and others report that the road is clear, the app realizes the issue is not real. Julie Mossler, Waze’s head of communications said, “These cities are pained because their populations have outgrown infrastructure built in the 50s.”
For cyclists, a bike highway would be a dream. Paris made it happen. The 28-mile Paris highway is just for bikes and will be available for bikers by 2020. Last year, the city voted to enhance its bike infrastructure and unanimously spend $14.5 million to expand the cycling routes. The enhancements include not having to stop at every intersection or green light, as well as “bike stands and two-way bike lanes on one-way streets”. For Paris dwellers, biking to and from work, to run errands, and more is a popular form of transportation. The bike highway continues to add to the popularity, adds a form of convenience, as well as safety for riders.
Why Columbus won the Smart City Challenge?
When you look at the finalists for the Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, Columbus might not have necessarily stuck out to readers. The 7-finalists ranged from San Francisco to Portland to even Pittsburgh, and then there was Columbus. Clearly, the City won a $50 million grant to further push the City to become a ‘smart city’, but their proposal had something different than the others. The city had a “key differentiator that went beyond transportation – it focused on their people.” Instead of solely focusing on how exactly they would improve transportation technology, they focused on how they would solve real problems for the people. The City focused on how it would provide low-income neighborhoods in and around Columbus with bank accounts, as well as meet transportation needs of these residents to easily access transportation to and from their jobs more easily.