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Renewables Now Exceed All Other Forms of New Power Generation

Renewables Now Exceed All Other Forms of New Power Generation | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it
Last year, renewable energy accounted for more than half of all new forms of power generation produced worldwide. It’s an unprecedented milestone for our civilization—one that points to a bright future for solar and wind power.
Jason Morelyle's insight:
A new report put out by the International Energy Agency (https://goo.gl/NAQMkl) underscores a bright future for wind, solar and other forms of new power beyond fossil fuels: renewable electricity capacity growth reached an all-time high in 2015, hitting the 153 gigawatt (GW) mark. As Gizmodo notes, that represents a 15 percent increase from 2014. Putting that into perspective, this pace of renewables growth is equivalent to the total current power capacity of Canada. Think of this: half a million solar panels were installed each day around the world in 2015, and in November of this year, the United Kingdom agreed to phase out coal by 2025, France said it would get there by 2023, Germany promised to reduce emissions by 95% by 2050, and India unveiled the world’s largest solar-xpower plant and is now on track to be the world’s third biggest solar market in 2017. Even China's renewables efforts - discussed in this column before - has placed a ban on new coal mines, created new rules for grid access, is investing in experimental roof-top projects and charitable installations in impoverished areas, and has doubled its renewables targets for 2020. In 2015 they installed wind turbines at a rate of two every hour for an entire year. Let me repeat that. Two an hour. For a year. Total new solar capacity is expected to be 30 GW by year-end - that's just over 5% of current global capacity - and that's only what China is adding. They are the global leader of renewable energy expansion, and represent almost 40 percent of worldwide growth says the IEA. Incredibly, in the next five years, China and India alone will account for almost one-half of new additions to global renewable capacity. Even Saudi Arabia is shifting focus to solar (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-21/saudis-seen-accelerating-sunward-tilt-in-charge-for-oil-revenue) and Costa Rica (Costa Rica!) ran solely on renewable energy for over 100 days (https://goo.gl/6X0ZAR). As the price of solar and wind continues to plummet, so-called "traditional" forms of fossil-based energy will not be economically and environmentally worth it. Please don't kid yourself: Canada should be at the world's forefront of the renewables solution. Some of our political leaders must get on the right side of history or be left behind like so many bleating brontosauruses stuck in the mud.
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Solar-Panel Roads to Be Built on Four Continents Next Year

Solar-Panel Roads to Be Built on Four Continents Next Year | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it
Electric avenues that can transmit the sun’s energy onto power grids may be coming to a city near you.
Jason Morelyle's insight:
Of note - this is something posted here and discussed in the past when my son was thinking about some science fair topics for school: Wattway (http://www.wattwaybycolas.com/en/) a subsidiary of French engineering group Bouygues SA is now testing designs for rugged, road surface-capable solar panels that are capable of withstanding the weight of an 18-wheeler truck. After nearly five years of research and laboratory tests, Wattway is constructing 100 outdoor test sites and plan to commercialize the technology in early 2018. One of them, a kilometer-sized testing site began construction this fall in the village of Tourouvre in Normandy. The 2,800 square meters of solar panels will generate an estimated 280 kilowatts at peak, with the installation generating enough to power all the public lighting in a town of 5,000 for a year.The other two testing sites are in the state of Georgia - and for those closer to home here in Canada, in Calgary. As Phillippe Harelle, Chief Technology officer points out, “We need to test for all kinds of different traffic and climate conditions [...] I want to find the limits of it. We think that maybe it will not be able to withstand a snow plow.” Given that Calgary sees some of the harshest urban winters in the country, as well as the most sunshine (https://www.currentresults.com/Weather-Extremes/Canada/sunniest-cities.php) this is a perfect fit. 
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Portlanders Asked to Imagine Linear Park Design

Portlanders Asked to Imagine Linear Park Design | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it

Portland's proposed Green Loop (Credit: Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability)

Jason Morelyle's insight:
Interesting piece on the importance of community input as a critical piece to a plan in Portland. In this case, a proposal looks at how Portland would be wrapped in a linear park and active transportation corridor - essentially a ring of greenery and pathways. In all, a great Case study in intentional design of streetscapes and placemaking.
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Road-straddling bus takes first test drive in China

Road-straddling bus takes first test drive in China | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it
Months after design was revealed Transit Explore Bus has inaugural run on test track in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province
Jason Morelyle's insight:
Forward-thinking, innovative design... the Transit Explore Bus (TEB) goes up to 60km/h, and runs on tracks with passenger spaces standing two meters above the road so that up to two lanes of cars can pass undisturbed underneath - or it over them.  Further, the buses are 21 meters long and more than seven meters wide; they could transport up to 300 passengers. Also, several units can be attached to one another. One TEB could replace 40 conventional buses. Of course this would have to be re-designed for larger roadways that accommodate larger trucks, transports, buses, etc. But used on a purpose-built BRT (bus rapid transit) system it's ingenious. I have no idea why it's called an "Explore" though. Odd. I'd much rather see the "Bestride," no?
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#TransitTrends Asks: 'Where Did City Planning Go Wrong?'

#TransitTrends Asks: 'Where Did City Planning Go Wrong?' | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it
The YouTube channel for moovel has launched a new YouTube series called Transit Trends, with five episodes already queued up! 
Jason Morelyle's insight:
Via Planetizen. Moovel, formerly known as the app Ridescout, has created a YouTube series called "Transit Trends" that brings so-called "explainer posts" to a new format. The latest episode features Gabe Klein, former Director of the D.C. Department of Transportation and former Commissioner of Transportation of Chicago (as well as the author of the well-received Start-Up City), where he focuses on the array of challenges facing planners working to address the seeming chasm between planning and transportation. Mr Klein in a nutshell: "When we talk about transit, we often get caught up in talking about moving people….What we're really doing is creating great places, when you connect land use to transit." Notable. This is certainly an issue worth looking at in many Canadian centres.
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Mercedes sets public transportation in motion with the future of the bus

Mercedes sets public transportation in motion with the future of the bus | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it

Mercedes-Benz is showing this technology on their ‘future bus with citypilot’ platform. together they set a milestone, both in the history of the bus and on the way to autonomous and accident-free driving.

Jason Morelyle's insight:
Via Designboom, a showcase piece on Mercedes-Benz's take on the future of public transportation. Connectivity,cameras, radar systems with data fusion, lower fuel consumption and emissions, updated scheduling, and aesthetics are all combined into their vision of the semi-autonomous bus that puts the user in the center of their design thinking. This is a great concept - I love the open-plan design of the interior and how the passenger compartment is divided into three zones, each according to different lengths of travel/stay. This is the kind of forward-thinking ideas for public transportation that should be a foundation for planners in years to come.
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How to keep cities moving: Ideas for America’s urban leaders | McKinsey & Company

How to keep cities moving: Ideas for America’s urban leaders | McKinsey & Company | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it
There are signs that America’s city dwellers are beginning to change the way they get around. Here is how city leaders can plan ahead.
Jason Morelyle's insight:
Excellent piece by Shannon Bouton, Stefan M. Knupfer, and Steven Swartz on the future of urban transportation and the ideas and strategies molding urban mobility in the US. I like how they give broad perspectives on different types of cites, and insights into seven key areas, like "new mobility services," "land use and urban design" and critically, "consumer preferences and behaviours." Although written from a n American perspectives, this is certainly applicable to many car-dominated, mature Canadian cites.
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Industry Outlook for Resilience - Urban Land Magazine

Industry Outlook for Resilience - Urban Land Magazine | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it
How can we prepare for disasters and adverse events in ways that protect communities and enhance the built environment? Experts in resilience discuss efforts to protect communities from disaster, enhance recovery efforts, increase awareness about the value of incorporating resilience, and implement resilience projects that provide additional benefits to the community.
Jason Morelyle's insight:
Via Urban Land Magazine, an interview with a panel of "Resilience Experts" including Peter David Cavaluzzi, Kristina Ford, Jason Hellendrung, Bill Halter, and John Shardlow. Notable comments from all - especially around the relationship between strategy and resilience. Cavaluzzi discusses structures that are adaptively repurposed - like the High Line in NY (one of my favourite places). "Creating a robust public realm with active public spaces makes the urban environment more flexible, more adaptable, and more attractive to the best and brightest, and that makes the city more resilient economically." As Shardlow points out, "We are always striving to think about resilience from the very conception of a project to make sure that resilience is “baked in,” not “bolted on” later." Resiliency from the get-go - in the very DNA of what we are doing - make sense to me.
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Cash-Strapped Towns Are Un-Paving Roads They Can’t Afford to Fix

Cash-Strapped Towns Are Un-Paving Roads They Can’t Afford to Fix | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it

Via Wired.


Rural areas all over the country are embracing this kind of strategic retreat.

Jason Morelyle's insight:
Here's an interesting trend: Many smaller US municipalities seem to be depaving their roads to save on costs. At first blush this seems a little counter-intuitive - but on further reflection it makes some sense. There are pitfalls and, as a the article point out, unintended consequences - like people switching from a Prius to some SUV. But if the roads were relatively well maintained, dust kept down, gravel kept to a minimum on hard-pack, you may not have to switch. As a guy who grew up in small town Ontario with a gravel road running past our house, I kind of like this approach when it's called for.  As the article points out, "Driving on well-maintained dirt and gravel can be healthier for a car than crashing through pothole that makes side streets look like World War I battlefields." 
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Calgary versus the car: the city that declared war on urban sprawl

Calgary versus the car: the city that declared war on urban sprawl | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it
Calgary is like any other Canadian city that grew outwards, not upwards. But led by progressive mayor Naheed Nenshi, the oil-rich, car-friendly city has become an unlikely leader in the battle to limit urban sprawl
Jason Morelyle's insight:
Notable article in The Guardian from our very own Chris Turner on Calgary's (and many other Canadian municipalities) battle against urban sprawl. The article is from their Guardian Cities section, and is part of series on "all things Canadian." From secondary suites and bike lanes to new LRT and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines, rings roads, and off-site levy bylaws, Turner briefly touches on many points and ends on a positive note:  all things considered, Calgary has come a very long way for a city whose name was long seen as a synonym for sprawl.
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HPE to debut Singapore-developed tool for citizen insights

HPE to debut Singapore-developed tool for citizen insights | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it
Hewlett Packard Enterprise will be showcasing a dashboard that aims to make sense of Twitter and Weibo posts in order to improve government engagement with citizens, as well as the services they provide.
Jason Morelyle's insight:
Hewlett Packard Enterprise unveiled their take on citizen dashboards this weekend at the World Cities Summit (WCS) held in Singapore. Currently in beta, the technology collects socila media posts and then parses the information in context. HPE says currently the dashboard boasts approximately 1.2 billion tweets from 50 cities in the Asia-Pacific and Japan, and 300 million Weibo posts from China, collated between April and June this year. it's a massive amount of data, especially when we understand that the true objective of this project is AI assisted / machine learning sentiment analysis. The HPE analytics engines pick out specific words in a tweet or post in order to make sense of its sentiment – either Positive, Negative or Neutral. Moreover, there is contextual analysis of the words left and right of a keyword to determine positive or negative connotations, while the machine learning component allows the engine to refine its analytics over time. In this way governments, organizations, and brands can begin to understand sentiment around certain topics, events, or issues in real time, and as HPE says, "to enhance their citizen-centric approach to increase engagement with their people.” 
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The Surprising History of the Infographic

The Surprising History of the Infographic | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it

Early iterations saved soldiers' lives, debunked myths about slavery and helped Americans settle the frontier

Jason Morelyle's insight:
Weekend read! From Clive Thompson at The Smithsonian magazine, "The Surprising History of the Infographic." From Scottish inventor and economist William Playfair (inventor of the pie chart) to the emergence of using data visualization to grapple with issues of urbanization, poverty, illiteracy, crime and disease (what for some was called "moral statistics"), and even help guide how countries and governments began using data visualization to help strategic expansion and governance. As Thompson notes, "by the late 19th century, data visualization had created a new type of citizen. Educated individuals in the U.S. or Europe were increasingly comfortable thinking statistically. “The two dominant words of our time,” wrote Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1860, “are law and average.” Interesting stuff. 
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A 13,000-Mile Experiment in Extreme Parenting

A 13,000-Mile Experiment in Extreme Parenting | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it
That's 21,000 km for us. 
Jason Morelyle's insight:
Wow. Canadian Bruce Kirkby decided that his family was in a technology-driven rut ... so he set up a grueling journey from British Columbia to Zanskar, a remote region in northern India. The dream was exploration and growth. The reality involved unexpected risks that made him wonder if the whole thing was an epic mistake. From Outside Magazine - Bruce Kirby in his own words.
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A Solar Roof That's Cheaper Than A Normal One. Thanks, Elon Musk

A Solar Roof That's Cheaper Than A Normal One. Thanks, Elon Musk | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it
The tiles can even melt snow.
Jason Morelyle's insight:
In case you missed it earlier this month, Tesla officially became an energy company after the automaker acquired Solar City (http://www.solarcity.com/). Elon Musk also announced the brand's new solar roof product in the shape of glass roofing tiles. As Musk asks, "...would you like a roof that looks better than a normal roof, lasts twice as long, costs less and — by the way — generates electricity?” The tiles are made of extremely strong tempered glass, and according to Solar City can withstand the impact of hail up to 320 km/h, which is up to three times the force of standard roofing tiles. Given its durability, ease of installation, and the dramatically falling costs of electricity generating solar power materials making it available to more people, this announcement marks a significant change in the evolution of solar power. The question is, how long will it take residential builders and developers to pay attention, innovate, and begin adopting this technology? 
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The Future Of Neighborhoods: Five Projects That Show How We'll Live

The Future Of Neighborhoods: Five Projects That Show How We'll Live | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it
Residential life could soon be changing.
Jason Morelyle's insight:
Insightful piece on the future of community building, starting with ReGen Village, a "closed-loop system" community opening early 2017 on the outskirts of Amsterdam. As James Ehrlich, a California-based developer and senior technologist at Stanford says in the article, "We are redefining residential real estate development by creating regenerative neighborhoods [...] It’s very much attuned to the cycles of nature." 
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solar powered pipe desalinates seawater into drinkable fluid

solar powered pipe desalinates seawater into drinkable fluid | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it

For the 2016 land art generator initiative, Khalili engineers propose a solar powered pipe to desalinate seawater into drinkable water.

Jason Morelyle's insight:
Proposed for the 2016 land art generator initiative, Khalili engineers intends to desalinate seawater into drinkable fluid with a massive solar powered pipe. Blending artistic, technological and architectural properties, the futuristic pipe floats off the coast of Santa Monica.The pipe will also work as a place for visitors to sit, relax, and observe panoramic ocean views. 
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Crosswalk LEDs Let You Play Pokemon Go Without Dying (Maybe)

Crosswalk LEDs Let You Play Pokemon Go Without Dying (Maybe) | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it
Are LED-embedded sidewalks a solution, or are they a sad acknowledgement of our obsession with phones?
Jason Morelyle's insight:
Although not an outright cure for the plague of distracted walking, this LED-prompted crosswalk system seems to be a step in the right direction. Maybe soon we will see an app with sonar-like capability that will warn slavish screengazers of an impending crash. Via Wired.
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What Mayors Talk About When Everyone Is Listening: What 100 Mayoral Speeches Say About Urban America

What Mayors Talk About When Everyone Is Listening: What 100 Mayoral Speeches Say About Urban America | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it

An annual report analyzing the "State of the City" speeches of 100 mayors gives fascinating insight into the mindset of America's municipal leaders.

Jason Morelyle's insight:
Fascinating report from Kelsey E. Thomas on the "2016 State of the Cities" report, released by the National League of Cities. The report performs a semantic analysis of the "State of the City" speeches for 100 cities from across the US. Notably,  economic development is the top topic for US mayors for the third year running, followed by Public Safety and Budgets, and Infrastructure, According to Thomas, "... [m]ore mayors talked about housing issues than ever before, largely driven by discussions of affordable housing."
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Urban Taxidermy: the mashup of Authenticity and Artificiality

Urban Taxidermy: the mashup of Authenticity and Artificiality | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it
Robert Allsopp describes "the art of preserving, stuffing and mounting buildings for lifelike effect to simulate an intrinsic social, cultural or commercial vitality."
Jason Morelyle's insight:
Jargon watch!! "Urban taxidermy?" Via Treehugger, Lloyd Alter examines an emerging trend in Toronto which has seen the city try to preserve the so-called "authenticity" of its streetscape. The term "urban taxidermy," used by landscape architect and planner Robert Allsopp in an article for NOW magazine, is used as a springboard to describe ongoing development in and around Toronto's Yonge Street Heritage Conservation District. Quote: "the front 30 feet of existing old buildings are preserved (so it is much more than just facadism) and new condos are built behind and above, in an attempt to preserve the streetscape." For Allsop's full article as a follow-up to this please see https://nowtoronto.com/news/are-we-killing-yonge-street/ ;

Question then - does this create a new category of architect / designer? A Facadist? 
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Public Transit Riders Want Better Service, Not Free WiFi

Public Transit Riders Want Better Service, Not Free WiFi | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it

Via Wired. 


"Surprise—people care more about reliability and practicality than frills."

Jason Morelyle's insight:
Notable study from the research group TransitCenter - they asked 3000 transit users US-wide what sorts of upgrades they’d like to see on their commutes. When choices like free Wi-Fi, electrical outlets, tap-and-go cards, more frequent or faster service, real-time updates on schedules, cheaper fares, or better shelters were ranked, ideas like free Wi-Fi and outlets came dead last. What came to the top? Reliability of service.  Steven Higashide, TransitCenter’s senior program analyst wrote, “we’re really not trying to criticize agencies for providing Wi-Fi ... unfortunately transit officials sometimes make weird decisions because they’re not the ones taking the bus and subway." The key here is to think of needs and priorities: when transit is consistently on time and on schedule, then we can start looking at the value-adds. Not the other way around - because if free Wi-Fi, warm bus shelters, and outlets are the things distracting us from poor service in the first place, we have an issue.
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Ontario plugs electric car plan with charging network | Toronto Star

Ontario plugs electric car plan with charging network | Toronto Star | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it

Via The Toronto Star


More than 300 car-charging stations will be installed in and around Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area under government plan.

Jason Morelyle's insight:
Charge ahead... a new network of almost 500 charging stations for electric cars at stores, fast-food restaurants, Pearson International Airport, and downtown office towers has been announced by the Ontario government. Scheduled for full launch by the end of March 2017, Queen’s Park will spend $20 million for the chargers. 24 companies are seen as partners, including Ikea, McDonald’s, and Tim Hortons. Notably, this is part of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s five-year, $8.3-billion plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which also includes subsidizing free overnight electrical car charging at home, making garage plugs mandatory in all new houses and condos that have garages (yes, you read that right; mandatory), and a forthcoming “cash-for-clunkers” program to trade in old cars for new or used electric vehicles. Hope to see similar innovative programs adopted across the nation...
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San Francisco’s notorious Tenderloin district welcomes safe writing space for kids

San Francisco’s notorious Tenderloin district welcomes safe writing space for kids | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it
Design firms, architects, and subcontractors in SF band together to transform drab building into writing center for kids
Jason Morelyle's insight:
I had visited 826 Valencia in San Francisco about 10 years ago. Amazing initiative and space spearheaded by Dave Eggers. And now their expansion is getting even more people involved in this important not for profit. Amazing what a difference it can make in a kid's life. 
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From An Industrial Past To A Bold Future -- Creative Placemaking

From An Industrial Past To A Bold Future -- Creative Placemaking | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it
“A city is only as great as the encounters and the energy it can create,” he has written, and “the arts have always been the kindling to the great fire of our human spirit.” - Jorn Weisbrodt
Jason Morelyle's insight:
Rana and Richard Florida interview Jörn Weisbrodt, the artistic director of Toronto’s Luminato Festival. Weisbrodt’s creative vision was to transform the decommissioned Hearn Generating Station - an old power plant - into the arts and cultural venue of the 21st century. 
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Want Better Cities? Here, 6,000 Years of Data Oughta Help

Want Better Cities? Here, 6,000 Years of Data Oughta Help | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it
The more we know about past urbanization trends, the better we can understand contemporary ones.
Jason Morelyle's insight:
Notable piece on Wired that discusses a data project that has plotted 6,000 years of global, city-level population history. Led by Yale urbanization researcher Meredith Reba, their data lists not only the size of past cities, but the hows, whens, and wheres of their emergence. The implications are tantalizing: the Yale team believes this new set of historical data will help urban and socio-municipal researchers ask new questions about the current state of our contemporary cities. Getting better insights into what happened in the past can not only help us identify new trends and explore questions about sustainability, population shifts, urban growth, and densification for example, it will also help better inform policy and decision-makers in the areas that really count.
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By data-mining a vast collection of novels, researchers have identified the six basic plots that all stories follow

By data-mining a vast collection of novels, researchers have identified the six basic plots that all stories follow | Meaning Making Machines | Scoop.it

Via the MIT Technology Review. 


Scientists at the Computational Story Laboratory have analyzed novels to identify the building blocks of all stories.

Jason Morelyle's insight:
Fascinating. Andrew Reagan and a few buddies at the Computational Story Lab at the University of Vermont in Burlington used sentiment analysis to map the emotional arcs of over 1,700 stories and then used data-mining techniques to reveal the most common story arcs. “We find a set of six core trajectories which form the building blocks of complex narratives." Implications are enormous: the further along that AI sentiment analysis programs get, the easier it will be to analyze vast swaths of open verbatim data - like we see in social networks. Or in verbatim datasets that your smartphone / smart watch is recording all day. Via the MIT Technology Review.
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