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Alfonso Jimenez via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0
Alfonso Jimenez via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

How San Francisco Is Using Lasers as an Urban Planning Tool

Alfonso Jimenez via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0
Alfonso Jimenez via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

San Francisco’s Market Street is one of the most important transportation routes in the city, but urban planners are looking to reinvent it. Before they can transform the road into a vibrant public space, however, they first need to shower it with millions of laser beams. 

LiDAR technology can be used to generate perfect, three-dimensional maps of cityscapes in a fraction of the time it would take on-the-ground surveyors. In the case of Market Street, San Francisco will be mounting a LiDAR system called a Riegl VMX-250 onto the roof of a truck, from which it will bounce lasers off surrounding surfaces and detect those beams upon their return. To build as accurate a map as possible, the truck will drive the length of the street four times at a speed of 5 mph. Along the way the laser system will construct 3-D point clouds of everything surrounding the truck from overhead wires to fire hydrants. The mechanism is so sensitive that it’s even able to capture the textural differences between pavement and painted parking lines. 

This technology is obviously a useful tool for city planners, but LiDAR also has applications in numerous other fields. Scientists have used it to map topography shifts after natural disasters as well as the destruction of the world’s forests. Earlier this year, Baltimore implemented LiDAR systems to assess damage following its wave of riots. Cities and companies also use the technology to keep track of neglected infrastructure.

In San Francisco, they’re hoping the futuristic mapping tool will help them inject new life into a historic part of the city. That is, unless a little rain gets in their way, as it did this past weekend when the city was forced to postpone the run. When rain drops fall they create noise in the data, leaving a map that's spotty and hard to decipher. The scan has been rescheduled for a weekend in December, weather permitting. 

[h/t: WIRED]

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literature
Trash Collectors in Turkey Use Abandoned Books to Build a Free Library
Adem Altan, AFP/Getty Images
Adem Altan, AFP/Getty Images

A stack of books abandoned on the sidewalk can be a painful sight for bibliophiles. But in Ankara, Turkey, garbage collectors are using books left to be discarded to build a free library. As CNN reports, their library of salvaged literature is currently 6000 titles strong.

The collection grew gradually as sanitation workers began saving books they found on their routes, rather then hauling them away with the rest of the city’s trash. The books were set aside for employees and their families to borrow, but eventually news of their collection expanded beyond the sanitation department. Instead of leaving books on the curb, residents started donating their unwanted books directly to the cause. Soon the idea arose of opening a full library for the public to enjoy.

Man reading book at shelf.
Adem Altan, AFP/Getty Images

With support from the local government, the library opened in the Çankaya district of Ankara in September 2017. Located in an abandoned brick factory on the sanitation department’s property, it features literature for children, resources for scientists, and books for English and French speakers. The space also includes a lounge where visitors can read their books or play chess. The loan period for books lasts two weeks, but just like at a regular library, readers are given the option to renew their tomes.

People reading books in a library.
Adem Altan, AFP/Getty Images

The experiment has proven more successful than anyone anticipated: The library is so well-stocked that local schools, prisons, and educational programs can now borrow from its inventory. The Turkish sanitation workers deserve high praise, but discarded book-loving pioneers in other parts of the world should also get some recognition: For decades, José Alberto Gutiérrez has been using his job collecting garbage to build a similar library in Colombia.

[h/t CNN]

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Live Smarter
29 of the Best Small Cities in America, According to National Geographic
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
iStock

When it comes to cities, bigger isn’t always better. Some of the most appealing destinations in America have more residents than your average town but not enough to make them bustling metropolises. If you’re looking to add more small cities your travel bucket list, National Geographic has some suggestions.

For their list below, Nat Geo Travel partnered with global destination branding advisor Resonance Consultancy to rank the best small cities in the country. They dropped the criteria used by most travel lists and adopted metrics that were a little less conventional. In the list below, you’ll find places that excel in categories like greenest (plenty of parks), sudsiest (lots of breweries), most Instagrammed (popular hashtags), musically grooviest (lots of live music), and most hipster friendly (coffee shops and record stores galore) per capita.

Each city falls into one of three population brackets: 40,000 to 100,000 people, 100,000 to 200,000, and 200,000 to 600,000. Anchorage, Alaska was the most caffeinated for its size, with 5.98 coffee shops for every 10,000 residents. Reno, Nevada is among the meatiest cities, meaning there are plenty of delis, butchers, and steakhouses there for carnivores to enjoy. Hagerstown, Maryland—which has no shortage of barber shops and hair salons—is one of the best groomed cities.

If you’re looking for a destination that checks off multiple boxes, Boulder, Colorado is the place to be: Not only is it the most hipster friendly city in its population group, it’s the most caffeinated, sudsiest, and musically grooviest as well.

Check out the full list below before planning your next vacation.

Albuquerque, New Mexico (Sudsiest)
Anchorage, Alaska (Trending- Most Caffeinated)
Ann Arbor, Michigan (Greenest)
Annapolis, Maryland (Dog Friendly)
Asheville, North Carolina (Most Artsy, Sudsiest)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Best Groomed)
Boulder, Colorado (Hipster Friendly, Musically Grooviest, Most Caffeinated, Sudsiest)
Charleston, South Carolina (Most Instagrammed, Most Artsy)
Columbia, South Carolina (Best Groomed, Meatiest)
Greenville, South Carolina (Meatiest)
Hagerstown, Maryland (Best Groomed)
Healdsburg, California (Greenest)
Hickory, North Carolina (Hipster Friendly)
Honolulu, Hawaii (Musically Grooviest, Most Instagrammed, Most Artsy)
Kansas City, Missouri (Most Artsy)
Lakeland, Florida (Most Dog Friendly)
Louisville, Kentucky (Meatiest)
Madison, Wisconsin (Greenest)
New Orleans, Louisiana (Hipster Friendly)
Newport, Rhode Island (Best Groomed)
Olympia, Washington (Most Caffeinated, Greenest)
Omaha, Nebraska (Musically Grooviest)
Pensacola, Florida (Most Dog Friendly)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Sudsiest)
Portland, Maine (Most Instagrammed)
Rapid City, South Dakota (Most Instagrammed)
Reno, Nevada (Meatiest, Most Dog Friendly)
Santa Cruz, California (Musically Grooviest)
Spokane, Washington (Hipster Friendly, Most Caffeinated)

[h/t National Geographic]

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