See the secret buildings that make cities run

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The 99% Invisible City explores the unexpected and hidden wonders of urban living. There are beautiful pieces of civic infrastructure that feed the soul—from ancient ornate aqueducts to structurally expressive modern bridges. Generally speaking, though, most infrastructure doesn’t get this royal treatment. Rather than making an exhaust port or an electrical substation into a flamboyant display of modern engineering, we often do the next best thing: we hide them. The camouflaging of everything from oil derricks to cell phone towers can be so devious and varied, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between what’s real and what isn’t. Read Full Story

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We need trees to fight pollution in cities—but which trees we use matters a lot

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Placing trees between roads and pedestrians can make life way healthier, but some trees perform their task better than others. Though having a lot of greenery indoors may not significantly remove pollutants from the air of your home (though the plants do look nice), green infrastructure does have a large impact. Some outdoor vegetation does directly remove pollutants from the air, but even on the scale of an entire city, this effect is pretty negligible. Instead, what greenery can do in a specific area or on a specific street, though, is form a physical barrier between traffic emissions and pedestrians walking around, which does protect from the health effects of air pollution. It’s not that just having trees somewhere in a city helps to make the air less polluted; it’s more about having the right kinds of trees in the right places. Read Full Story

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What will it take for cities to get rid of natural gas?

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As cities’ old gas infrastructure starts failing (with often deadly consequences), the proposed solution is often repairs. But a transition to a clean economy involves eliminating natural gas, so why not start now? In Baltimore, where a massive gas explosion leveled homes and killed at least one person on Monday, the utility plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to make repairs on the city’s aging natural gas infrastructure. But perhaps making repairs is the wrong plan entirely. Instead, the city could use this as an opportunity to transition away from natural gas entirely. Read Full Story

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If COVID-19 pushes people to the suburbs, how can we make them more environmentally friendly?

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As people move out of dense cities and into sprawling suburbs, their carbon footprint could actually increase. Four miles from downtown Austin is a suburb that doesn’t much resemble the 1950s archetype of big family houses behind white-picket fences, wide streets, and endless sprawl. Instead, Mueller, Texas , is a modern, mixed-use, equitable, eco-conscious community, built on the lot of an old decommissioned airport, comprised of a mix of solar-ready single homes and apartment blocks, shops, restaurants, offices, a 30-acre park and jogging trails, a museum and an open-air amphitheater, and the highest number of electric cars per capita in the country. It’s described as “an alternative to land-consumptive and automobile-dependent development patterns throughout the region.” Read Full Story

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Getting Smarter with SERPs - Whiteboard Friday

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Posted by rjonesx. Modern SERPs require modern understanding. National SERPs are a myth — these days, everything is local. And when we're basing important decisions on SERPs and ranking, using the highest quality data is key. Russ Jones explores the problem with SERPs, data quality, and existing solutions in this edition of Whiteboard Friday. Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab! Video Transcription Hey, folks, this is Russ Jones here again with another exciting edition of Whiteboard Friday. Exciting might be an exaggeration, but it really is important to me because today we're going to talk about data quality. I know I harp on this a whole lot. It's just, as a data scientist, quality is really important to me. Here at Moz, we've made it a priority of the last several years, from improving the quality of our Domain Authority …

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Maps are a critical weapon in our fight against COVID-19. We can be smarter about how we use them

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It’s surprising how little we have applied geography in shaping our knowledge of what determines health. We should start now. The famous discovery of the origin of a cholera outbreak in a London water pump in 1854 by Dr. John Snow—often regarded as the birth of both the modern city and the field of epidemiology—was achieved through a map. Before 1854, this area of London had no sewer system and was steeped in muck and filth. Cholera previously killed over 14,000 people during outbreaks in 1832 and 1849, but the cause of the disease was yet unknown. Dr. Snow mapped the deaths from cholera at the household level and then eventually came upon the idea of mapping all of the area’s water pumps. The resulting overlap map showed a clear correlation between the one water pump and deaths. By removing the water pump handle, the outbreak was contained and stopped. …

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Imagine a transcontinental network of protected bike paths

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“Our vision is an intercity network that people could bike and walk to destinations across the country.” Under an elevated rail line in Miami, a new park will open this fall with a 10-mile path dedicated to walking and biking. It’s an infrastructure improvement for Miami cyclists, but it’s also part of a larger, interstate network of trails that will eventually make it possible to ride from Florida to Maine with little interaction with cars. And even that enormous project is itself just a small part of an even bigger dream: a network of protected bike lanes connecting cities across the country, making it possible to bike from city to city—and ocean to ocean—safely. Read Full Story

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What toys from the past can tell us about how we predict the future

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The Museum of Future History explores how we colonize the future when we try to envision it. If there’s one thing we know for certain about the future, it’s that we don’t know what will happen. But we can—and do—try to make predictions: about how climate change will affect our planet, what will happen to the economy, which jobs will be in demand and which ones will be obsolete. Read Full Story

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How Citi Commercial Cards is using conversational AI to improve CX

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30-second summary: Citi recently engaged with Interactions, a provider of intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) to implement a pilot program that utilizes a virtual agent with the goal of improving CX in their Commercial Cards division. Citi’s commercial clients were receptive to utilizing technology that reduced the need for card holders to speak with a representative for routine issues that could be effectively addressed digitally. A cross functional team at Citi evaluated AI chatbot provider, Interactions. Citi’s product, technology, operations and customer service teams worked closely with resources at Interactions to implement the tool. From the selection process for Interactions through the first live test call, the onboarding process took about 11 months. Currently the chatbot initiative is still a pilot program that addresses five simple issues with an automated agent. A key part of Citi’s CX strategy was to notify clients before rolling out the pilot program. Since the pilot …

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This bridge used to be a highway—now it’s for pedestrians

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The highway once cut off a Providence neighborhood from the rest of the city. Now residents can easily walk between them. Where a major highway once crossed a river in downtown Providence, Rhode Island, there’s now a pedestrian bridge that doubles as park space. The project reuses old infrastructure: When the city learned that it would cost millions to remove the massive piers that supported the highway in the water, it decided to leave them in place and build the pedestrian bridge instead. Read Full Story

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