The Streets are watching

Interesting links from my ‘cities’ watchlist


This was going to be an edition of a newsletter for the day job but it has missed its window I think and some of the links are in danger of getting out of date so I figured publish and be damned (and I’ll write a new one for the newsletter..)


What a waste

Keep Britain Tidy has just published some interesting research (in its own academic journal no less!) about the idea of litter beacons — large, obvious pieces of litter that attract more rubbish as their presence seems to give conscious permission to other potential litterers.

None of which sounds like it would fit in to the government’s National Litter Strategy which has been in place since April but has rather been lost in the political comings and goings since then. That said Selby Council in Yorkshire are certainly taking an interesting angle to try and limit littering and fly-tipping: installing clay faces in areas prone to it to discourage the behaviour.

Ministers are also being encouraged to support a money-back scheme to try and reduce the amount of plastic bottles that are being dumped on streets,beaches, rivers and the sea.

In a related feat of civic hacking Terence Eden, open standards lead at the Government Digital Service in his day job, has taken the Oxford City Council API and created a ‘skill’ for Amazon’s Alexa software that allows him to get up to date information about bin days and recycling. Now if he could just get the bins to drag themselves out to the kerb at the right time.


Show me the money

Last week the humble ATM turned 50 and as seemingly the last person in my peer group who regularly pays in cash I was happy to read about the ongoing efforts to bring them into the digital age by adding new features as well as rediscovering this map of ATMs based on Open Banking data created by Leigh Dodds an open data advocate who is Chair of Bath:Hacked amongst other things.


Talking about ATMs this is an interesting little story about the rise of cupcake ATMs in the US and what that might say about the rise of automation and robots as related to employment.


Time travel

This is a nice map showing average commute times in the US based on their Census data – of course we have been offering something to this for a few years here at mySociety for the UK with Mapumental!

http://overflow.solutions/demographic-data/what-is-the-average-commute-time-in-each-u-s-county/

TfL have joined the chatbot craze launching a tool on Facebook Messenger to allow users to get realtime updates via ‘natural language’ questions and they have shared a little bit of the behind the scenes why and how of it all.

The Guardian have a fun list of unspoken rules of public transport from around the world and as a serial tutter when I visit London I heartily endorse number ten.


Something artistic to finish things off as an abandoned five-story bank is handed over to the artistic community in Berlin to use as they see fit and you’d expect they got some interesting results 🙂

http://popupcity.net/165-artists-turn-old-bank-into-five-story-art-experience/