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JOURNALISTIC EXCELLENCE · TRANSLATED INTELLIGENCE
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June 4, 2015

For those of us who don’t live in polluted cities, it’s easy to take the air we breathe for granted. And for municipal officials this much should be clear: Just like it is a city’s job to provide residents with clean water and reliable electricity, it is the city’s responsibility to ensure the air is safe to breathe.

Clean air comes in many forms. This past week, Beijing enacted a ban on smoking indoors, bringing it in line with norms in Europe and the United States. Of course, smokers aren’t the only ones making Beijing’s air unbreathable; and this week, in addition to other smart city news, we’re taking a look at a novel way that Chinese authorities are enforcing pollution controls around the country. We’ll also visit the pollution question elsewhere — for although China often gets the most attention for its pollution, it is far from the worst offender.

— Emily Liedel
                   
THE SMART CITY THAT BRINGS US CLOSER TO OUR FOOD
The Future Food District, a pavilion at the Milan Expo, presents a new kind of digitalized grocery store that would bring consumers more information about their food choices, La Tribune reports (French). The pavilion is set up like a supermarket, but when customers pick up an item, they see information on an overhead screen about where it came from, its nutritional content and its environmental impact. The designers say this kind of "smart food" information could help reconnect cities with the surrounding countryside, and encourage consumers to buy local products.
VERBATIM
“Planning law has a poor record in Africa. Legislation designed to protect the public from the negative aspects of urban land development has all too often been used by the state to enhance the value of land owned by the wealthy, and to penalize and intimidate the disadvantaged,”
Stephen Berrisford, an adjunct associate professor at the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town, writes for the Africa Research Institute. Berrisford argues that African cities need new, effective urban planning laws that are applied equally to rich and poor if the continent’s cities have any hope of developing in a manageable way.
CO-CREATING THE FUTURE
In an effort to apply collective creativity to the development of a smarter city, the southern French city of Marseille hosted a day-long workshop to develop creative ideas about the city of the future, Urbannews reports (French). One of the workshop’s clear outcomes was establishing the many different visions that Marseille’s residents have of what a smart city should be — with many agreeing it should not be defined in a strictly technological sense.
SMART CITY SANTIAGO
Chile is building its first prototype smart city in Santiago’s Business Park. Smartcity Santiago will have integrated electrical grid that can be managed remotely, an automated network of renewable energy and a way to schedule tasks, like turning off the lights in an empty room, eSmart City reports (Spanish). The new city will also have both public transport and private vehicles that are 100% electric.
SPOTLIGHT BUENOS AIRES
In the past three years, Buenos Aires has built more than 87 miles (140 kilometers) of biking infrastructure, and it was the only Latin American city to make the list of the 20 most bike-friendly cities in the world, coming in at number 14. Buenos Aires also has instituted a number of apps to improve citizen involvement, including a way for citizens to report parking violations to the traffic police.
TANGIER SURVEILLANCE
Sold as a way to help manage booming population growth and rising urban insecurity, the Moroccan city of Tangier is looking to install surveillance cameras at key places in the city to keep crime under control. They are more than simple cameras, however. The system is supposed to collect data, coordinate exchanges between law enforcement agencies, provide geo-located data and help analyze the collected surveillance to identify which parts of the city are at risk, Medias 24 reports (French).
FIGHTING POLLUTION WITH DRONES
The Chinese government is stepping up its pollution tracking by using drones, Caixin reports (Chinese). The drones have several advantages over the traditional monitoring devices: They can fly over factories or other polluted areas and take photos of toxic signs such as black smoke, sample the particles in the air and alert officials to changes in water color around discharge sites. The drones help limit interference from factory owners, who have been known to tamper with the government’s stationary pollution-monitoring devices.
DELHI POLLUTION
Although Beijing is often the world’s poster child for polluted cities, it is actually far from being the worst. In an essay for The New York Times, the newspaper’s former South Asia correspondent describes the very real dangers of living in a city where the air can’t be trusted, and neither can the water or the food.
BY THE NUMBERS: 13 OF 25
Of the world’s 25 most polluted cities, 13 are in India. Beijing ranks 79th on the list.
USER-SUGGESTED BUS ROUTES
As Bogota starts replacing all of its buses with the higher-tech Transmilenio, the system’s administrators are hoping that riders will share in the system’s transition and planning. The city has set up an email address and telephone line where riders can make suggestions about routes. If enough people make similar suggestions, they will be adopted, reports El Espectador (Spanish).
WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
The unchecked growth of Mexico City is threatening the last remaining chinampas — the floating vegetable gardens that have fed the city's residents for millennia. Read more about the fight to save the chinampas and the lakes they are built on from Le Monde/Worldcrunch.

SMART CITIES
Check out our special dossier of articles from Worldcrunch's news partners around the world, translated into English.

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