Big tech companies clean up the city

What We're Clicking On – January 24th, 2019

In our weekly news filter ‘What We’re Clicking On’, we share the most interesting publications related to the future of cities, buildings and interiors.

Big tech companies increasingly feel the urge to collaborate with the cities in sustainability projects. Alibaba has applied its ‘City brain’, to its hometown Hangzhou, which was once ranked the fifth most congested city of China. City Brain uses AI to collect location data and by analyzing it in real time in order to prevent congestion by coordinating 1,000 road signals. Hangzhou has now dropped to the 57th of the list and Alibaba states that its tool has ‘shortened commutes and helped first respondents by enabling fire trucks and ambulances to halve the amount of time to get to the scene’. Read more about City Brain here.
In Germany, Volkswagen and Siemens launched a smart traffic system aimed to predict ‘green waves’ of traffic lights. According to McKinsey Global Institute, cities that implement these kinds of systems could cut commutes by 15 to 20 percent by 2025.

Photo by Alibaba

After announcing its ‘Clean Air Plan’ in October last year, Uber has officially launched the program in London last week. Uber London charges a so-called ’15-pence-per-mile clean air fee’ aimed to help drivers to upgrade their car to battery-electric vehicles. Considering a 40 hours work week, it might take up to three years for a driver to actually being able to upgrade its car.  However, Uber expects the fee ‘to raise more than 200 million GBP ($260 million USD) to support drivers buying EVs and comes with London starting to up the ante in its efforts to curb climate change and air pollution’.
Uber’s goal to only use fully electric cars by 2025 in London is stated to be extremely ambitious. It is not the first time ride hailing services have made environmental commitments: both Uber and Lyft partner with cities to reach their environmental goals. Read more about it here.