CLOSE
Original image
iStock

4 Garbage Bins That Do More Than Just Collect Trash

Original image
iStock

In most well-run cities, there’s a trash can on nearly every street corner. Given their ubiquity, trash cans provide a unique opportunity for urban amenities. City workers already come to check on them regularly, and new trash receptacles are often fairly hardy metal boxes to which you can attach sensors, solar panels, and more. Here are four ways cities are using trash and recycle bins for more than just waste disposal: 

1. Feeding dogs

recycling bin from the Turkish company Pugedon helps feed hungry stray dogs. Every time someone puts in a bottle, it dispenses a little bit of kibble, funded by the money earned by recycling. It also has space where you can pour out your water bottle for the dogs to drink. 

2. Urban bomb-proofing 

Image Credit: Renew

In advance of the London Olympics in 2012, the city ordered 100 bomb-proof recycling bins at a cost of $25,000 pounds each (around $39,000 in today’s dollars). The ultra-strong cans are designed to withstand a blast should someone try to hide a bomb within them. They also come equipped with LCD displays that can show emergency alerts, transit information, and ads. For a short time, the recycling bins also collected data on electronic devices in the near vicinity, allowing the city to track people walking by—but that program was discontinued following public outcry.

3. WiFi hotspots

Image Credit: Bigbelly

The solar-powered trash can manufacturer Bigbelly is trying to bring WiFi to its waste disposal bins across New York City. WiFi hotspots within Bigbelly trash and recycling cans had enough bandwidth to support an entire small business in pilot testing. The company is searching for sponsors to help launch the project citywide.  

4. Cryptocurrency mining

A smart trash can topper called eCan rewards people for cleaning up. It attaches to existing trash cans and can sense when a new item is thrown away. When it launched last summer, the high-tech trash can lid was designed to mine Emrals, a cryptocurrency invented by eCan’s founder, every time a user tossed trash in. The idea is to set up a system where these Emrals could be exchanged like money or used to get local discounts. 

Original image
iStock
arrow
travel
National Geographic Ranks The 25 Happiest Cities in the Country
Original image
iStock

Feeling unhappy? Maybe it's time to move. National Geographic recently released rankings of the 25 happiest cities in the U.S. The results: Eight of the 25 locations are in the Golden State, but the honor of No. 1 happiest city goes to Boulder, Colorado.

The rankings are based on 250,000 interviews conducted in 190 metropolitan areas between 2014 and 2015. The survey—developed by Dan Buettner, author of the new book The Blue Zones of Happiness, and Dan Witters, a senior scientist at Gallup—looked for data points that are correlated with life satisfaction and happiness, like whether or not you exercise, if you feel safe in your community, whether you feel like you live within your means, and whether you feel like you are reaching your goals.

A map of the U.S. showing which cities made the top 25 happiest cities index.
Courtesy National Geographic

Of course, all that isn’t necessarily the result of your geographical location. But you don’t see cities like Los Angeles or New York—where wealth is also clustered—on the list, so presumably San Franciscans are doing something a little differently.

Take a look for yourself. Here are the 25 happiest places in the U.S., according to the results.

1. Boulder, Colorado
2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California
3. Charlottesville, Virginia
4. Fort Collins, Colorado
5. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, California
6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
7. Provo-Orem, Utah
8. Bridgeport-Stamford, Connecticut
9. Barnstable Town, Massachusetts
10. Anchorage, Alaska
11. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Florida
12. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, California
13. Salinas, California
14. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida
15. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii
16. Ann Arbor, Michigan
17. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California
18. Colorado Springs, Colorado
19. Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire
20. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California
21. Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, Virginia/Maryland/West Virginia
22. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota/Wisconsin
23. San Diego-Carlsbad, California
24. Portland-South Portland, Maine
25. Austin-Round Rock, Texas

You can grab a copy of November’s National Geographic to read more about the world’s happiest places.

The cover of Dan Buettner’s The Blue Zones of Happiness and the cover of November 2017’s National Geographic.
National Geographic
Original image
Courtesy Umbrellium
arrow
Design
These LED Crosswalks Adapt to Whoever Is Crossing
Original image
Courtesy Umbrellium

Crosswalks are an often-neglected part of urban design; they’re usually just white stripes on dark asphalt. But recently, they’re getting more exciting—and safer—makeovers. In the Netherlands, there is a glow-in-the-dark crosswalk. In western India, there is a 3D crosswalk. And now, in London, there’s an interactive LED crosswalk that changes its configuration based on the situation, as Fast Company reports.

Created by the London-based design studio Umbrellium, the Starling Crossing (short for the much more tongue-twisting STigmergic Adaptive Responsive LearnING Crossing) changes its layout, size, configuration, and other design factors based on who’s waiting to cross and where they’re going.

“The Starling Crossing is a pedestrian crossing, built on today’s technology, that puts people first, enabling them to cross safely the way they want to cross, rather than one that tells them they can only cross in one place or a fixed way,” the company writes. That means that the system—which relies on cameras and artificial intelligence to monitor both pedestrian and vehicle traffic—adapts based on road conditions and where it thinks a pedestrian is going to go.

Starling Crossing - overview from Umbrellium on Vimeo.

If a bike is coming down the street, for example, it will project a place for the cyclist to wait for the light in the crosswalk. If the person is veering left like they’re going to cross diagonally, it will move the light-up crosswalk that way. During rush hour, when there are more pedestrians trying to get across the street, it will widen to accommodate them. It can also detect wet or dark conditions, making the crosswalk path wider to give pedestrians more of a buffer zone. Though the neural network can calculate people’s trajectories and velocity, it can also trigger a pattern of warning lights to alert people that they’re about to walk right into an oncoming bike or other unexpected hazard.

All this is to say that the system adapts to the reality of the road and traffic patterns, rather than forcing pedestrians to stay within the confines of a crosswalk system that was designed for car traffic.

The prototype is currently installed on a TV studio set in London, not a real road, and it still has plenty of safety testing to go through before it will appear on a road near you. But hopefully this is the kind of road infrastructure we’ll soon be able to see out in the real world.

[h/t Fast Company]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios