SCP E103 The role of education and ethics in the design of self-driving cars, with Vienna Harvey

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In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, Zoe brings you an interview she did on location in Silicon Valley as part of her Churchill Fellowship trip investigating Smart Mobility around the world. By the way, if you want to hear more from Zoe about her trip, you should subscribe to her exclusive podcast about her Churchill Fellowship. It’s exclusively for her supporters on Pozible, so head to Pozible.com today, search for My Smart Community, and hit support. There’s several episodes there already for you to get stuck into and hear Zoe’s insights from the various people, places and platforms she’s been exploring as part of her Churchill Fellowship.

In this episode, Zoe speaks with Vienna Harvey from online learning company, Udacity. Vienna is a Learning Technologist that specialises in the Self-Driving Car nano-degrees at Udacity. She also did a thesis project about the role of ethics in the design of self-driving cars, and she shares some really interesting findings from her research in this area. Zoe and Vienna also discuss the talent-gap in the autonomous vehicle industry and how Udacity’s nano-degrees are one way to combat this, as well as the emerging trend of actually seeing self-driving cars on the road in more places. There are a couple of tech glitches in this episode. It’s very listenable, however you will notice a few spots where Vienna’s words get slightly clipped, or the speed changes slightly. As always we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Vienna’s background in ethics of autonomous vehicles and how it led to her job at Udacity
  • What Udacity offers as an online learning platform, and Vienna’s role there as a Learning Technologist
  • How Vienna sees the future of technology playing out, including accessibility, autonomous transport and shared-transit
  • The reason flying cars are still a fair while away from becoming mainstream
  • The evolving conversation about ethics in the autonomous vehicle space
  • Vienna’s research, including her findings from an autonomous-car variation on ‘The Trolley Problem’
  • The talent-gap in the autonomous vehicle industry, and how Udacity is working to support students to fill that gap
  • The emerging trend of self-driving cars actually being on the road in more places

Quotes:

“How can we not only create the vehicles to be as technically sound and good as they can be, but also how can we ensure the people who will be using and buying them someday will be comfortable with this technology and feel good about it?”

“I think [self-driving cars] are going to be a really important part of broader Smart Communities in the future.”

“A big part of my job as a learning technologist is to test code that students have written and submitted as their capstone project for Self-Driving Car Engineer. We have a self-driving car at the office and students taking that nano-degree program are able to write code that then drives an actual self-driving car around the parking lot. I’m the person who is the backup driver and safety check for when we’re doing that.”

“Increasing accessibility for more people is going to be a huge part of transportation in the future…[Self-driving cars] would be able to give more people access to that kind of mobility that they might not otherwise have. E.g. someone who is too young or too old to drive a regular car could maybe get that increased mobility through a self-driving car.”

“Flying cars [are] definitely exciting and cool to talk about but I think it is pretty far on the horizon, at least as something relatively mainstream. I think it will remain a little more niche for the time being.”

[On the survey Vienna ran as part of her thesis exploring ethics and self-driving cars]

“In general people were very consistent, with a strong leaning towards wanting to prioritise the safety of the person in the car, which I think does make sense from a consumer standpoint, because you’re not going to want to buy a car that you worry might sacrifice your life.”

“There’s a really big talent-gap in the [autonomous vehicle] industry right now, where people are looking for candidates who can fill that gap and who come in already with those skills and specialised knowledge.” 

“We are starting to get self-driving cars on the roads. I think the next thing is going to be expanding where they are, because right now the majority of them are still fairly localised in Silicon Valley and the few other places that are known for working with these. So I think it will be interesting to see the continued expansion.”

Connect: 

Connect with Vienna on LinkedIn and find out more about Udacity on their website

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community 

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP E102 Climate change, energy efficiency and the built environment, with Don McLean

This episode of the Smart Community Podcast is brought to you by IES. Did you know IES provides 3D performance analysis technology that helps all those involved in the design, construction and operation of buildings to reduce the carbon emissions of buildings and cities worldwide? So far, through use of its technology, IES has prevented over 30 500 Mega Watt power stations from having to be built. IES is about to launch new, exciting digital twin technology that will help you create a more sustainable and intelligent world. You can find out more at www.iesve.com

In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, Zoe has a fascinating conversation with Don McLean from IES. Don has been in the energy space for nearly 40 years, and is truly passionate about finding intelligent ways to improve energy efficiency as a way of combating climate change. Don shares why he believes aggregation and using the collective is imperative to making better decisions and being more efficient, as well as how he sees Scotland embracing Smart Concepts. He then tells us about his company IES, and how their ‘digital twin’ simulation technology helps in the design of energy efficient buildings, as well as some other technologies they are developing to support the creation of energy efficient groups of buildings, such as university campuses or city districts. Don then explains some of the barriers he sees to integrating across disciplines and really solving our energy problems in order to combat climate change. Zoe and Don finish their chat discussing the emerging trend of positive energy blocks, and how IES is trialling these. As always, we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Don’s background in the energy space and his absolute passion for planet wide energy efficiency
  • How the global concerns of peak oil and climate change sparked Don’s interest in the Smart Community space
  • The reason Don believes the Smart Community concept is so important
  • Why we should be using the collective to make better decisions and be more efficient
  • Don’s perspective on how Scotland is embracing Smart concepts
  • What IES does and how their ‘digital twin’ simulation technology helps in the design of energy efficient buildings
  • The need to tackle energy efficiency from two angles: from the operational side of things to the opportunities provided by thinking at scale
  • An example of how this might look in practice, on a Smart University Campus
  • The power of adding IOT and peer-to-peer systems to a Smart Building, Smart Precinct or Smart District
  • The barriers Don sees to integrating across disciplines and really solving our energy problems to combat climate change
  • The need for changes to ‘business and usual’ way of operating for utility providers and governmental approach to building regulations
  • The emerging trend of positive energy blocks, and how IES is trialing this in Trondheim,Norway and Limerick, Ireland

Quotes:

“It doesn’t have to be a city—it could be 2 buildings or it could be a million buildings, it doesn’t matter. And therefore, why can’t we have a Smart Campus, or a Smart County or a Smart Country or a Smart Continent?”

“We’ve got to think…in that more aggregated approach, rather than looking at individual buildings, as a way to solve the climate change problem.“

“When you aggregate [groups of buildings together] you’ve got one demand profile for energy…it almost makes it a simpler problem to look at a whole community [and] you get the advantage of scale…It generates efficiencies through the process.”

“Scotland, like a lot of other places, are not doing too much about it. There are pockets where [groups are] trying to do something about it. But it’s going to take a long time before we really see any action that will mitigate climate change.”

“It’s about being able to not just aggregate one group of buildings, but then being able to connect the different groups of buildings…ultimately to have a situation where you could aggregate the whole county, country or [even] continent.”

“If we are serious about reducing climate change and its impact, we’ve got to look at these more intelligent, effective ways of managing energy…It’s doing these kind of [large scale] things to solve problems that people can’t really address on their own.“

“The will is there. I don’t see the actions that look like all of these people get together and make this happen. At the moment what I fear is the fact that we’ve got to see some catastrophic problems and issues before governments and others will actually take serious action [on climate change].”

“At the moment in [the energy] sector, I don’t see that integration happening unless something serious happens with respect to climate change…I just do not see how we’re going to get action without [a catastrophe], and that’s the tragic view of it.”

“A lot of governments put together building regulations that actually cause as much energy inefficiency as they do save energy. As a consequence, I think the whole approach to government regulations has got to be adapted and changed so we can better test the energy performance of buildings in order [to] give them a rating.”

Connect:

Connect with Don via email don.mclean@iesve.com or find out more about his work at the IES website iesve.com

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP E101: User Experience at the Intersection of Digital & Physical Environments with Martin Tomitsch

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In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, Zoe speaks with Martin Tomitsch, Associate Professor in Design at the University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning, Chair of Design, and Research Director of the Design Lab – an interdisciplinary research group that investigates the role of design across a range of domains and contexts. Martin shares with Zoe the concepts of media architecture and hybrid infrastructure and how it can improve the lives of citizens in Smart Communities, as well as the importance of user experience design principles when designing Smart Cities. Martin tells us about his new book, “Making Cities Smarter, Designing Interactive Urban Applications” and some interesting projects designed to use emerging technologies to in one case reduce litter, and in another case make traffic lights not only fun, but safer. Zoe and Martin finish their conversation discussing the emerging trends of bio design, and cathedral thinking, and why we should be thinking long term when it comes to Smart Cities and Communities. As always we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it.

By the way, if you want to hear more from Zoe about her trip, you should subscribe to her exclusive podcast about her Churchill Fellowship. It’s exclusively for her supporters on Pozible, so head to Pozible.com today, search for My Smart Community, and hit support. There’s several episodes there already for you to get stuck into and hear Zoe’s insights from the various people, places and platforms she’s been exploring as part of her Churchill Fellowship. Now, on with the episode!

Listen here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Martin’s background in informatics and how his PhD in the intersection of digital and physical environments led to his interest in Smart Cities
  • The concepts of media architecture and hybrid infrastructure, and how it can improve the lives of citizens in Smart Communities
  • The label of Smart Cities and why Martin believes the global discourse about the concept is important
  • How we can define “better” cities, and what “better” means
  • The importance of user experience design principles when designing Smart Cities
  • Martin’s new book, “Making Cities Smarter, Designing Interactive Urban Applications”, based on the UX design principles used in Smart City apps to help people in their daily lives
  • The advantages of working as a research at a University
  • The TetraBIN project designed to use emerging technologies to reduce litter in cities
  • Places Martin has researched that are embracing Smart Concepts in ways that use user-centre approaches, including Amsterdam and Montreal
  • The Street Pong project designed to make traffic lights not only more fun but also safer
  • The role of design thinking and education in better integrating across multiple disciplines
  • How Martin’s University are encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration and communication
  • The emerging trend of biodesign and how shoe company Puma is using it in their shoes
  • Cathedral thinking, “More than Human” design, and how we should be thinking long term when it comes to Smart Cities and Communities

Quotes:

“Smart Cities as a term was really successful in terms of getting buy in and starting a discourse, and for me the way the term is being used is about using technologies to enable Cities, governments or city councils, to make better use of the city infrastructure and to design better cities in many ways. Then it comes down to how do we define ‘better’? Is that more efficient and more effective cities, or are they talking also about the quality of life in cities and maybe about economic values as well?”

“The Smart Cities movement globally [has] actually made a lot of resources available to city governments and councils, so they started to have access to the resources and being able to more easily implement or change processes with the councils.”

“User experience design is really important because technology is really infiltrating all aspects of our lives and all levels of companies, so user experience design ensures that those technologies are designed in a way so that they’re actually meaningful, intuitive and easy to use but actually also addressing people’s needs… How can we translate those user experience design principles into cities, and into frameworks for designing Smart Cities”

“For me, city apps are really what is the interface between people and Smart Cities.”

[On Street Pong] “There’s research that shows that if you give that information [about how long until the traffic lights change] to people, they’re actually less likely to walk across the road when there’s a red light. It’s a clever way of using data…and making it available in a very playful way.”

“At the university, cross-disciplinary interaction or collaboration is really encouraged now and it’s something that’s seen in a positive way. So that contributes to this mind and attitude shift [towards collaboration], which is really important.”

“If we talk about the future of cities, I think what’s really critical is that we understand the role of education in all of this, because those people who are going through high school and university right now, they will be the leaders, whether it’s in industry or government or research of the future.”

“So for me as an educator at the university it’s really important that we’re teaching students now already of the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration. That involves not just aspects like teamwork and understanding of the other cultures and disciplinary areas, but also having a bit of a knowledge across a range of disciplines.”

“You get people with a background in biology or science to work together with designers, to better understand how these new technologies can be applied.”

Links:

Martin’s new book https://www.booktopia.com.au/making-cities-smarter-martin-tomitsch/prod9783868594928.html

The bin that lets you play tetris: TetraBIN http://www.tetrabin.com/#!vision.html

The Sencity company that is now developing TetraBIN https://sencity.city/tetrabin

Montreal Light Festival https://www.montrealenlumiere.com/

Street Pong http://www.streetpong.info/

Puma biodesign shoe https://design.mit.edu/projects/puma-biodesign

Marcus Foth episode https://mysmart.community/2018/02/26/e04/

Connect:

Connect with Martin on Twitter @martintom, LinkedIn @martintomitsch

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

 

 

SCP E100 Episode 100 Celebration: Ask Zoe Anything

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In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, host Zoe Eather is back in the hot seat! In celebration of this being episode 100, Zoe and Ellen sat down for a chat where she answers questions from you, the audience of the Smart Community Podcast. Fittingly, when this episode goes to air, as well as being episode 100, it’s also exactly one year since Zoe started her own Smart Community consultancy Zemcon. It’s been a whirlwind time and Zoe is currently on her round the world Smart Mobility investigation via her Churchill Fellowship. In this episode Zoe shares her thoughts and experiences in response to the questions some of the community has asked, but if you want her up to date news of her trip, head over to Pozible.com and search My Smart Community to get access to the exclusive podcast all about her Churchill Fellowship journey. In the meantime, enjoy this ‘ask me anything’ episode with Zoe, and as always we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it!

Listen here:

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

 

SCP E99 Solving Problems with Smart Concepts And Tools, with Alexis Hannah Smith

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In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, Zoe had a great conversation with Alexis Hannah Smith, the Founder and CEO of IMGeospatial. Alexis shares with us a bit about her background in business and how she stumbled into the Smart Community space because of her passion for helping people and make change for a better world. Zoe and Alexis talk about the gap between the ideal world and reality when it comes to sensors and data, some projects that are happening in the UK, including the Satellite Applications Catapult, plus some projects Alexis is currently working on. Alexis then shares what IMGeospatial and AI Holdings does, and why not being an engineer has been an advantage for her. They finish their chat discussing the emerging trend of branding and re-branding Smart City concepts. As always, we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

The Smart Community Podcast can be found on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or YouTube

What we covered in this episode:

  • Alexis’s background in business and how she stumbled into the Smart Cities space
  • Branding Smart Cities and the power of using technology to help people
  • What a Smart City is and why it’s important
  • The ideal world vs reality of sensors and data or what will we do when things break?
  • How the UK is embracing the Smart City concepts
  • Projects Alexis is currently working on, including using data to fix AI mistakes, to help you fill in insurance forms and to help maintain water pressure
  • The advantage of not being from an engineering background
  • What IMGeospatial does and how they use technology to help solve people’s problems
  • How and why we need to shift the way we digest and use data to enable better decision making and plan for the future
  • Real examples of how using up to date data and educating citizens can help people and insurance companies in terms of floods
  • How to best integrate with people and with data
  • The need for interoperability and standards across sectors to make data truly useful
  • Rebranding Smart Cities and getting hung up on buzz words
  • The emerging trend of people from non-techie disciplines shaking up the Smart Community space

 

Quotes:

“In an ideal world, all sensors work all the time. In an ideal world, you’ll get the perfect Smart City database, and that would be great in theory. The issues are going to come when the world’s not perfect. Things break, things don’t quite work out.”

“It’s quite amazing how if you get a lot of interdisciplinary people in a room, how many different problems you can solve.”

“Not being from engineering and not knowing how to solve all these problems, it’s a major advantage for us as a business. Because, we can just look at it with a blank piece of paper and not [get stuck in how things have always been done]. We can look at it and say ‘what’s the most effective and efficient way of solving the problem?’”

“One of the major issues that a lot of people are trying to solve, especially with the autonomous vehicle people coming in with a huge budget, is how do you make that data truly useful for people and easy for people like ourselves, SMEs and also large businesses, to dive in and use.”

“People [in the Smart City space] get hung up on buzz words too much…But a Managing Director of an Insurance or Water company, they don’t care what the buzz word is. They just want to know it works.”

 

Connect:

Connect with Alexis on the website or Twitter: @imgeospatial

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.