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crowd economy, environment, public transit, sharing economy
Comments Off on Transit Geek Images: Bike Sharing in Minneapolis

bikesharingHappened to be in the land of 10,000 Lakes (Minneapolis) recently and tried the bike sharing service near one of the MetroTransit stations.  Bike sharing really seems to be taking off in densely populated urban regions – especially in Europe.  I have tried bike sharing now in Washington, DC, Paris, Minneapolis, Montreal, Chicago, and New York.

 

Bike sharing has taken off exponentially in the United States after being introduced in some of the more progressive European urban areas.  In some ways this is amazing given the potential pitfalls of the service – from the unpredictability of the bicycle availability to the same “last mile” problems we face in public transportation with proximity of bicycle stations.  Weather in the US also heavily influences the usage patterns for bicycle sharing.

 

If you don’t think bicycle sharing is becoming big in the states, take a look at this cool data visualization that @chris_whong did on 5 days worth of bicycle trips in Washington, DC.  http://youtu.be/O_njHxFRj4o

 

Interestingly, the industry is so successful it is facing bankruptcies and problems similar to other emerging technologies like electric vehicles and renewables.  Some of the issues are related to supply chain issues, but others are simply the result of a new economic model following a hype cycle similar to that of other types of technologies.  Regardless, it seems that bicycle sharing is here to stay.

emerging technology, innovation, public transit
Comments Off on APTA Emerging and Innovative Technology Committee: 2014 Rail Conference

 

The APTA Emerging and Innovative Technology Committee met yesterday to discuss ongoing work this year related to both Senior/Disabled Assistive and 3D Printing Technologies.  The session on 3D printing was excellent, with new participants chiming in with great ideas for what the committee could achieve in this topic.  From prototyping components, to Buy America support, to solving problems with older parts, 3D printing has huge promise for the public transportation industry.

innovation
Comments Off on TRB IDEA Project on Wearables and Beacons

The APTA Emerging and Innovative Technology Subcommittee of the Research and Technology Committee submitted our first grant proposal to the Transportation Research Board for IDEA funding this month.  The proposal “Wearables and Beacons: Using Contextually-Aware Technology to Improve Navigation of Public Transportation Spaces for Customers with Visual, Language, and Aging Challenges” intends to conduct practical research.  The goal is to provide field research demonstrating whether wearables like smartwatches or other connected devices can communicate using Low Energy Bluetooth to communicate with beacons to assist those with challenges in navigating complex public transit spaces.  Our hope is to foster innovation in the public transit industry around the underserved senior/disabled community in the industry.  We believe this project relates to issues of social equity, sustainability, and innovation.

 

The team we built includes Cubic, Control Group, New York MTA, and Sachs Insights, working under the guidance of a cross functional committee that includes private and public sector participants from organizations like RouteMatch, Clever Devices, Southern Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), University of Southern Florida, Cisco, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and others.

innovation, public transit, research
Comments Off on EU-US Symposium on Transportation Research

ladefenseI was fortunate to be invited to participate in a symposium between the European Union and the United States on improving the adoption and use of transportation research globally.  The meeting included both public transportation and highways and roads organizations, and included members of agencies, universities, and private companies from all perspectives in the transportation industry.

 

Highlights included a presentation by Natalia de Estevan from Transport for London on  implementing the results of their Research and Development (R&D) efforts in an urban setting (“people don’t just experience our service, they feel it“), Chris Martin from Bosch talking about Vehicle to Infrastructure communications, and a cool discussion of electric vehicle charging using energy from regenerative braking of trains by Luiz Lopez Ruiz from Spain’s Administrator of Railway Infrastructure (adif.es).

 

There were also presentations by the Conference of European Directors of Roads (CEDR), the University of Maryland, MBTA, and others.   Of special concern for the symposium participants was the question of why other government-funded and sponsored research more successfully reaches adoption while transportation entities are far slower to adopt the results of research.  For example, research related to space, health sciences, and education all have proceeded to adoption and commercialization.  Unfortunately, transportation research significantly lags behind these other industries.

 

Members of the symposium identified a number of contributors to this dynamic, including the smaller pool of funding, that transportation infrastructure in many ways is invisible and not engaging for the public, and the life cycle of the infrastructure and process does not lend to quick adoption of innovation.

crowd economy, environment, sharing economy
Comments Off on 1% for the planet donation

logo_small_bluereversed  rxRj4qyU_400x400Today the ecology.IT team renewed our commitment to 1% for the Planet by donating 1% of our annual profit to member nonprofit ecotrust.org.  This organization’s mission is “to inspire fresh thinking that creates economic opportunity, social equity, and environmental wellbeing. Our goal is to foster a natural model of development that creates more resilient communities, economies, and ecosystems here and around the world.”

 

This organization views itself as a “social incubator,” by funding and fostering innovation and opportunity through technology and process changes like climate-smart mapping tools, FoodHub, and whole watershed restoration.  We are excited and pleased to be associated both with the 1% for the Planet initiative and to fund work through ecotrust.org.

innovation, public transit
Comments Off on New York MTA goes live with OnTheGo panels by Control Group

onthegopanel-editOne of the coolest transit technology projects I have seen recently just went live in New York for the MTA – interactive touchscreens called “On the Go” by Control Group.  These capacitive screens behave similar to a smartphone, with the user being able to actively engage with the screen based on the location of the device.  The user interface is beautiful and intuitive, providing quick and relevant information to the user.

 

Control Group is an innovation incubator with diverse interests in many different industries, and they bring that knowledge now into the public transit world for New York MTA.  This device is different than the static or dynamic message boards found typically at most agencies (and, disclosure, made by my company’s subsidiary NextBus) in that the user can actively engage with the device.  They are funding much of this development based on shared advertising revenue, thus decreasing the capital investment by the agency.

 

I encourage everyone to take a look at this cool company.

Uncategorized
Comments Off on TerraPass White Badge Program

Ecology.IT is now officially a “carbon balanced” company.  Through TerraPass, a company that specializes in carbon offset projects, ecology.IT has acquired carbon offsets for the business emissions that we generate.  While we constantly strive to minimize our carbon footprint, the nature of the technology consulting business is that we will create emissions, both through power consumption beyond that generated by renewable power sources and through our travel and operations.

 

Acquiring carbon offsets is no substitute for conservation efforts and efforts to reduce our carbon generation.  But offsets are part of our portfolio of investments to minimize the negative impacts of our business operations.  We specifically say “carbon balanced business” rather than “neutral” because our business operations are simply not neutral.  While we have acquired offsets against our estimated carbon footprint, we do still generate emissions.

 

TerraPass meets all of our required standards for carbon offset acquisition, including independent audit and verification of their projects, investments in projects that are currently in process, and they perform projects that have immediate carbon reductions through implementation.

 

We are proud to be a TerraPass carbon balanced business partner.

environment, sustainability
Comments Off on ecology.IT commits 1% of sales to environmental causes

Today ecology.IT completed the process to become a member of 1% for the Planet.  This membership reflects our commitment to live what we teach as a company.  While technology companies cannot help but generate significant pollution as a result of our ever-growing need for power and equipment, we can commit to do our best to offset those demands.

 

Joining the 1% for the Planet organization demonstrates our belief that business can factor sustainability priorities into their operations, and where possible can commit resources toward long-term sustainability goals outside of their corporate sphere.  Programs like 1% for the Planet ensure that investments continue to be made in environmental stewardship – from projects that directly impact the planet to education programs that help foster an environmental focus in science and technology programs.

 

Ecology.IT believes in the need for both technology and sustainability, and we hope that our commitment to 1% for the Planet helps demonstrate that belief.

environment, solar, sustainability
Comments Off on ecology.IT signs APTA Sustainability Commitment

I am happy to say that as of today ecology.IT is an APTA Sustainability Commitment Signatory.  This is the first in a series of steps toward creating a sustainability plan for the consultancy.  As part of this commitment, we are implementing the following practices for the company:

 

  • We commit to be a paperless office whenever possible.
  • When we are required to print, we will use paper with 100% post-consumer recycled content.
  • Our website will always be 100% solar power driven.
  • ecology.IT will participate in community events to further sustainability initiatives at the local level.
  • ecology.IT will actively participate in the APTA Sustainability Committee
  • ecology.IT strives to be a zero-emission operation, and where this proves infeasible carbon offsets will be acquired

 

We look forward to creating our organization’s first Sustainability Report to APTA in June 2013.

public transit, sustainability
Comments Off on German Infrastructure Projects

One of the most impressive things the US Delegation on energy efficiency in public transit saw while on our visit was the Germans’ commitment to greening their cities and improving their public transit options. Again and again, our German American Chambers of Commerce delegation saw audacious infrastructure projects designed for sustainable, livable cities.  Each project seemed destined to both improve the efficiency of public transit balanced with a commitment to creating more walkable and better use spaces.

 

One example was the Stuttgart 21 project.  This project – while certainly plagued with its share of politics and protests – has a plan to transform the Stuttgart landscape by creating an underground “through rail station” to replace the current terminus design.  A main feature of the project is to recover the industrial space used by the current above-ground tracks for multi-use, mixed purposes.

 

The project intends to relocate the majority of the train station underground, and to provide state-of-the art green and clean tech within the facility.

 

Interestingly, from the outside the value of this bold project for the community seems so high that one wonders at the protests from the Green party that would naturally support a project based on such livability goals.  This is where the world economy begins to take its toll on grand vision – the costs of the project exceed €4.5 billion.  Given all of the economic woe in Europe, this does seem an immense amount of money to which to commit.  Corruption, dissension, and politics led to significant protests about this project, and even dramatic changes in the German political sphere as a result.  However, at the end of the day, the region voted in favor of moving forward with the project.

 

As a sustainability professional, the Stuttgart 21 project has the potential to be a shining example of how a focus on livability can improve a city’s landscape.  Hopefully the project architects and engineers will not abandon the sustainability principles that make this program so attractive as they settle into the realities of construction.