Skip-Descant

Skip Descant

Staff Writer

Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Sacramento.

The Montgomery County Public Schools district is transitioning all 1,400 school buses to electric models, aggressively retiring diesel buses as more districts explore funding and cleaner transportation options.
As the Smart Columbus project closes out its five-year run, the city is preparing for a new smart city future, building on the projects, successes and lessons learned to begin exploring innovations around renewable energy and closing the digital divide.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg addressed the opening session of the Forth Roadmap Conference this week, stressing the need to transform the transportation sector as a central effort to combat climate change.
Relay, an autonomous shuttle program launched in Fairfax County, Va., in October 2020, is offering officials a better understanding of how driverless shuttles navigate live traffic and how to improve work zone safety.
New research from the Union of Concerned Scientists found that as electric utilities phase out fossil fuels like coal, the electric cars they recharge far outpace gas-powered cars when considering overall greenhouse gas emissions.
Expect to see more low-speed, autonomous shuttle projects developing into full-scale integrated transit services. The Jacksonville Transportation Authority in Florida plans to launch the first phase of AV shuttles into its transit mix by 2023.
A partnership among industry, the National Science Foundation and US Ignite has formed the OpenAirX-Labs to grow the development and testing of open source 5G software to increase innovation in wireless technology.
The Los Angeles Metro Board voted to move forward with developing a pilot project that would make transit free for students and low-income riders on one of the nation’s largest transit systems.
Peachtree Corners, Ga., is partnering with Qualcomm Technologies and Jacobs to deploy direct vehicle-to-everything communications in two city vehicles as a development to improve safety and traffic management.
The Utah Department of Transportation is partnering with Blyncsy to provide dashcam imagery showing road conditions in and around Salt Lake City. The cameras will be mounted on ride-share vehicles, among others.
Transit agencies in Maryland and Massachusetts have turned to renewable energy microgrid projects to better manage the needs of their bus fleets. The move will also help meet aggressive sustainability goals.
The Virginia Smart Community Testbed in Stafford County will test emerging technologies in real-world settings. The project is a partnership between the county and the Center for Innovative Technology.
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is experimenting with autonomous technology from ThorDrive in its vehicles carrying luggage between the terminal and aircraft.
A new report from Jacobs Urban Tech Hub at Cornell Tech addresses a range of digital city issues like data privacy as a foundation for any city considering the deployment of urban technology to advance community goals.
New Orleans recently collected smart city proposals to achieve broadband equity in the city. However, it’s unclear how the city will ensure data privacy as it unfolds the broad urban tech initiative.
The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) hopes to run more efficiently by gaining insights from Internet of Things (IoT) tech. One expert says success will depend on passenger trust in IoT.
Citizens in El Monte, Calif., will be taking advantage of digital signage that reveals the availability of roughly 400 parking spots in the city. The system also includes an app that can help residents plan their travel.
The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada is using dashcam footage gathered from ride-hailing drivers to gain added insights into the status of the hundreds of highway work zones in the Las Vegas region.
Some 1,500 intersections in Los Angeles to get upgraded with new traffic signal equipment.
Hill Air Force Base is involved in a demonstration project to use hundreds of small, low-wattage sensors, which require neither batteries or a separate power supply. The sensors “harvest” energy from their ambient environments.
The Revive! Challenge, organized by the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, is open to low- or no-cost tech solutions to help communities in a post-COVID world. Submissions are due May 5, and winners will be named in July.
As the vehicle market evolves, industry insiders debate the future of hydrogen fuel cells, and how the most plentiful element in the universe can be the answer to renewable energy and zero-emissions transportation.
A three-month pilot project to test small, electric autonomous shuttles in North Carolina launched at the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kill Devil Hills. The project will inform other driverless initiatives in the state.

A roundtable discussion related to what’s needed for expanded EV deployment took a look at concerns around the difficulties of building out a half-million new charging locations in the near future.
Local governments found themselves with pressing needs during the pandemic, and pilot programs testing automated shuttles stepped up to help — for example, by delivering COVID-19 tests and meals.
On the second day of the Smart Cities Connect Conference and Expo, private- and public-sector tech officials discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic shifted smart city efforts and initiatives and positioned them for the future.
The eighth annual Smart Cities Connect Conference & Expo opened with a panel discussion around digital equity and the need for all communities to expand access to broadband as they emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.
Once an overlooked part of the urban landscape, the curb is now considered hot real estate in many cities. The demands of delivery services, ridesharing and micromobility have cities re-examining how they manage their assets.
Officials from Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles were part of a government IT panel at the oktane21 conference, reflecting on how they’ve guided city government systems toward an environment that is both secure and accessible.
Scooter companies like Lime and Bird are introducing new products to the micromobility landscape in a number of cities. Meanwhile, New York City is introducing its first scooter pilot project.