Introducing “City of the Future” — a Podcast from Sidewalk Labs

Each episode explores one idea or innovation that will transform cities.

October 5, 2018

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Episode 5: Closing the Recycling Loop

Simple as it may seem, recycling properly is really hard — and our misguided attempts are actually harming the planet more than helping. But what if we could know, instantly, if we’re recycling correctly? What if we were “nudged” to recycle better? Or reuse more? In this episode, we explore how behavioral science — and computer vision — could help us help our planet.

City of the Future is produced by Benjamen Walker and Andrew Callaway. Our hosts are Vanessa Quirk and Eric Jaffe. Music is by Adaam James Levine-Areddy (check out his band at amsterdamlost.com). Art is by Tim Kau. This episode was mixed by Zach NcNees. Special thanks to all who made this episode possible: Benjamin Miller, Emily Kildow, Sasha Tregebov, and Clare Miflin. 

Episode 4: Delivery Robots

Every day, truck drivers are out battling rush hour traffic, maneuvering through narrow city streets, circling for parking, emitting exhaust — all to get you your package as fast as possible. For the sake of our cities, and our planet, things have to change. The future of delivery will be smaller, less loud, and more sustainable. In fact, in the future, you package might just find its way to you. 

Mix by Sharif Youssef. Special thanks to all who made this episode possible: Chris Lutick, Brian Clark, Anne Goodchild, Sandra Rothbard, and Rohit Aggarwala.

Episode 3: Adaptive Traffic Lights

Traffic lights were invented to improve pedestrian safety, but they also created streets that put cars first. But what if traffic lights could respond to the actual conditions at the intersection — perhaps stay red for an elderly walker or turn green for a crowded bus? In this episode, we explore an innovation that could change the hierarchy of the street: adaptive traffic lights.

Mix by Sharif Youssef. Special thanks to all who made this episode possible: Willa Ng, Ryan Vilim, Richard Saylor, Kara Oehler, Claire Mullen, Taylor Wizener, and Sven Kreiss. 

Episode 2: Modular Pavement

Imagine streets that automatically heat up before a winter storm, so snow melts on contact. Or that can light up and instantly turn a car lane into pedestrian space. In the second episode of City of the Future, our new bi-weekly podcast,  we talk to Sidewalk experts Chris Sitzenstock and Cara Eckholm — and take some trips to Alaska and France — to explore the innovation that will make these things possible: modular pavement.

Mix by Sharif Youssef. For this episode, we used two songs from the Free Music Archive: “Battle of Pogs” and “Ending” by Komiku. Special thanks to: Kara Oehler, Claire Mullen, Tim Allen, Thierry Sedran, Chris Sitzenstock, and Cara Eckholm.

Episode 1: Mass Timber

In our inaugural episode of City of the Future, we explore mass timber, an innovation that could allow for wooden skyscrapers — and completely transform the way we build our cities. A green, renewable resource engineered to be strong as steel, resistant to fire, and prefabricated (which means it can be assembled quickly on the construction site), mass timber is poised to take off in North America, kickstarting the skyscraper race of the 21st century. We talk to the world’s leading expert on tall wooden buildings, Michael Green, and Sidewalk’s Director of Buildings Innovation, Karim Khalifa.

This episode was produced by Kara Oehler and mixed by Sharif Youssef. Special thanks to: Michael Green, Karim Khalifa, Claire Mullen, Eric Baczuk. Benjamen Walker, and Andrew Callaway.

October 5, 2018