Every day at The Overhead Wire, we collect news about cities and send the links to our email list. At the end of the week we take some of the most popular stories and post them to Greater Greater Washington, a group blog similar to Streets.mn that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.
Spanish cities turn to sprinklers to stop fires: In Spain, two towns have erected towers with sprinklers to fend off wildfires. The tower system, called the Guardian Project, is not expected to put out fires but rather slow them as the 80 foot towers use recycled water from nearby homes to drench nearby plants. It’s also only likely to succeed in more urban areas surrounded by vegetation and isn’t be expected to work in dense forest. (Graham Keeley | Wired Magazine)
Our suburban panopticon: Amazon has amassed amazing intellectual and physical property that now allow it to create an Amazon Prime television show based on Ring Camera footage from around the United States. Millions of Ring cameras watch from porches in cities and suburbs alike, which brings about questions of privacy and what could ever be entertaining about surveilling neighbors and delivery workers. (Jordan Uhl | I Hate It Here and Never Want to Leave)
Why can’t we build anything anymore?: Aaron Gordon dove into the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process over the last year to find out why it was delaying infrastructure projects and why we as a country are so slow to build infrastructure. But what he found wasn’t a NEPA only problem, but an agency funding and capacity problem. These systems we’ve set up are so complex, it’s unlikely that blaming one part of the system will get a solution everyone is desperate for. (Aaron Gordon | Motherboard)
Los Angeles without a car: A reporter from Mumbai completing a journalism fellowship at the LA Times tried to navigate Los Angeles through a series of slow bus rides and long walks as he swore he wouldn’t need a car in a big city. What he found out was what many of us already know; Ubers are expensive, long distances are hard to traverse on local transit, and that drive throughs don’t allow pedestrians. Such is car oriented life in most US cities. (Parth M.N. | Los Angeles Times)
TfL planning to develop 20,000 housing units: Transport for London (TfL) was set up 22 years ago and is currently the largest landowner in London, owning 5,500 acres, or 1.5% of the city. With that land, TfL’s Commercial Director Graeme Craig is looking to build 20,000 housing units with half being considered affordable. (Julia Kollewe | The Guardian)
Quote of the Week
“If the reason you prefer to spend time in the digital world is that your friends are there, and their reason to be there is that you are there, what will get us there in the first place? What starts the cycle?”
Max K Hayward in The New Statesman wondering if the Metaverse will lead to the decline of social interaction in the real world, and thus cities.
This week on the podcast, Paris Marx, author of, “Road to Nowhere: What Silicon Valley Gets Wrong about the Future of Transportation,” talks about technologists, Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Carrier Bag Theory,” and Uber’s impact on labor laws.