New York will soon require that its 1.1 million public school students have access to computer science education. The new program, dubbed Computer Science for All, will be funded by an $81 million public-private partnership and is aimed at teaching students skills like basic coding, robotics, and web design. Part of the initiative will involve training nearly 5,000 teachers, from those who will teach the subject exclusively to others that can naturally incorporate the subject into their curriculum. Chicago and San Francisco have also committed to bolstering access to computer science for its students.
Boston has appointed the city’s first “Chief of Streets,” a cabinet-level position that will be in charge of the city’s initiatives to improve mobility and service for pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and transit riders. The new chief will aim to both foster innovation and to ensure that the departments under his oversight collaborate effectively to address the city’s transportation challenges.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, has unveiled a mobile grocery store plan to bring fresh fruit and vegetables into neighborhood food deserts, areas that have few quality and affordable grocery stores and poor access to public transit. Under the Mobile Market Project, a repurposed city transit bus will visit regional communities each week to sell affordable food items. The 21-week pilot, which is modeled after similar initiatives in Toronto and Ottawa, is expected to begin in October.
To help defray the costs of college while accommodating the non-curricular obligations of students, the Texas State University System will provide students with the option of taking online courses for their freshman year, thereby avoiding tuition. Under the plan, called Freshman Year for Free, students that take 10 free courses and pass tests ($90 each) for college credit can begin attending college classes as a sophomore. While open to everyone, the program targets nontraditional students, who may have families or full-time jobs. More than 30 classes will be offered, from US history to astronomy.
This article charts how sections of New York City and Chicago are fulfilling the promise of the smart city trend. NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress is working with New York’s Hudson Yards neighborhood to build the country’s first “quantified community," which will measure data on air quality, pedestrian traffic, energy production and consumption, and the health and activity levels of workers and residents. The community will include over 17-million square feet of commercial and residential land with a school, hotel, and public space. Related initiatives to “smarten” cities are proliferating worldwide.
In order to better assess road conditions for more effective responses, transportation departments from Seattle and Phoenix to South Dakota and Connecticut are using multi-armed “spider vans” with high-definition cameras, mapping lasers, and GPS equipment to scan and record roads. Armed with data from these vans, engineers and public officials can better target resources to those stretches of roads that are in the worst condition. The data that is gathered is also allowing engineers to predict when the next road failures will occur.