Smart concrete could be a crucial, cost-effective way to fix America’s crumbling infrastructure

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Self-healing concrete and smart sensors could save drivers time and taxpayers money. Every day, Americans travel on roads, bridges, and highways without considering the safety or reliability of these structures. Yet much of the transportation infrastructure in the U.S. is outdated, deteriorating, and badly in need of repair. Read Full Story

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This corporate campus is now a mini smart city

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In San Diego, the telecom giant Qualcomm has turned its sprawling campus into a showcase of the smart city of the future. With 36 buildings, 25,000 employees, and hundreds of acres of land, the San Diego campus of telecommunications giant Qualcomm is almost a city in itself. That made it the perfect testing ground for a suite of new technologies aimed at making spaces and cities smarter. Over the past year, the company has been rolling out new technologies to its buildings, infrastructure, transportation, and security systems that offer a glimpse of how a tech-enabled smart city could operate. Read Full Story

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Instead of police randomly enforcing traffic laws, cameras and smart design could make safer streets

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Part of reallocating police budgets could involve taking the bias out of traffic stops and instead doing real work to change our streets. In New York City, police issue more criminal summonses for cycling on the sidewalk in Black and Latino neighborhoods than in white ones. Those neighborhoods, it turns out, tend to lack protected bike lanes, and research has shown that when a protected bike lane is available, the prevalence of sidewalk cycling plummets by as much as 94%. What if the money spent on that sort of policing was used instead to build safe bicycling infrastructure, so people didn’t feel like it was necessary to ride on the sidewalk in the first place? Read Full Story

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How to build a zero-carbon skyscraper

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Wooden skyscrapers help sequester a lot of carbon, but they run into problems when they get too tall. This concept design minimizes the footprint but still gets to 105 stories. A typical skyscraper has a massive carbon footprint, both embedded in the production of materials such as concrete and steel and from the energy used to keep it running. But if this new, conceptual 105-story skyscraper is built, it could operate with essentially no carbon footprint at all. 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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The U.S. can get to 90% clean electricity in just 15 years

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And by 2045, the electric grid could be entirely renewable. Until recently, climate experts projected that it wouldn’t be possible to decarbonize the electric grid until 2050—and that moving to fully renewable energy could raise the price of electricity for consumers. But the cost of wind, solar, and battery storage has fallen so quickly that in just 15 years, the U.S. could feasibly run on 90% clean electricity, with no increase in electric bills. And adding new renewable infrastructure could create more than half a million new jobs each year. By 2045, the entire electric grid could run on renewables. Read Full Story

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