The number of people living in cities and urban areas worldwide rose from 746 million in 1950 to 3.9 billion in 2014, according to best estimates from the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO). More than half of the global population now lives in urban areas, and WHO expects that will continue rising to reach 66 percent by 2050.
Reducing pollution, waste and the intensity of natural resource use in cities and urban areas, as well as reconnecting them with the natural environment, has become a priority — locally, nationally and globally. A shift away from consumer-driven mindsets that have come to define society over the past 60-odd years is clearly in order. So are new tools and technologies. Rapid development and adoption of so-called “smart city” technologies are helping chart the course to sustainable cities and lifestyles.
Development of a low-power wireless sensor network platform by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’sArgonne National Laboratory (ANL) looks like a breakthrough smart city technology. Dubbed ‘Waggle,’ ANL’s wireless network sensor platform provides researchers “a really fantastic picture of whatever physical processes the researcher wants,” ANL explains in a press release, “whether it’s city or climate data or even hyperspectral data from plants.” … (read more)