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Mapping the Growth of OpenStreetMap

March 18, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow OpenStreetMap is a marvel of modern crowdsourcing. Since its creation in 2004, DIY cartographers – typically armed with GPS devices or satellite photography – have been slowly mapping the world's road networks and landmarks to create a free alternative to proprietary geographic data that can then support tools like trip...

The Streetlight of the Future Will Do So Much More Than Light Your Street

March 13, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Back in 2011, the city of Chattanooga was having serious problems with gang violence in one of its more prominent downtown parks, Coolidge Park (to a point, in fact, where local police tried banning unaccompanied minors there). “They were getting ready to flood this park with these giant baseball field...

What the Steamship and the Landline Can Tell Us About the Decline of the Private Car

March 11, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow This prediction sounds bold primarily for the fact that most of us don't think about technology – or the history of technology – in century-long increments: “We’re probably closer to the end of the automobility era than we are to its beginning,” says Maurie Cohen, an associate professor in the...

Why Are There No Big Cities with Municipal Broadband Networks?

March 4, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The Institute for Local Self-Reliance recently compiled this map of all the communities in the country that control their own access to the Internet. At best count, there are about 340 of them with publicly owned fiber-optic or cable networks, serving either all or parts of town. In these places,...

We've Been Looking at the Spread of Global Pandemics All Wrong

February 25, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Five hundred years ago, the spread of disease was largely constrained by the main mode of transportation of the time: people traveling on foot. An outbreak in one town would slowly ripple outward with a pattern similar to what occurs when a rock drops onto a surface of still water....

5 ways the next U.S. Secretary of Transportation will be forced to follow Ray LaHood's lead

January 29, 2013 Ray LaHood is probably best known to the broader public as the bureaucrat who has spent the last four years railing against distracted driving. Under his tenure as U.S. Secretary of Transportation, his department launched a public service onslaught warning of the modern perils of texting while driving (our favorite...

The best open data releases of 2012

December 19, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Last year, Cities named ten of its favorite metro datasets of 2011 from cities across North America, illustrating the breadth of what we might learn (regarding mosquito traps! misplaced vehicles! energy consumption!) in the still relatively young field of urban open data. For this year's installment, we're going one step...

Why mayors should run the Department of Transportation

November 21, 2012 The federal Department of Transportation has its roots in the post-World War II era of the American highway. It was formed, in 1966, just a decade after federal legislation created the Interstate Highway System that would change how Americans travel and where they live. "And highway building has been the...

The growing rural isolation of veterans

November 12, 2012 America’s population of veterans has been shrinking for years. This means – as Pentagon leaders have begun to lament – that civilians have less contact today with the realities of military life (and afterlife for veterans) than at any point in memory. On this Veterans’ Day, you’re much less likely...

This house consumes less net energy than an urban studio

September 26, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Three mornings a week, Bill Healy or Hunter Fanney lead tours for their government colleagues of the newest and most curious project on the campus of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland, a place where federal researchers tinker with wild ideas like refrigerants that could combat...

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