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This week, NPR featured an innovative technology story on Morning Edition which featured smart city development in Santander, Spain. This small city has been visited from delegations from Microsoft, Japan’s NEC, IBM and Banco Santander, among others, who have come to see the results of 12,000 sensors that were installed as the result of an $11 million grant from the European Commission. Not only are sensors being implemented all over the city to lay the groundwork for turning Santander into a smart city, but citizens have become active participants as well. Via electronic apps, citizens can take an image of a broken streetlight or a pothole in the road and send it to the city hall. Local government then tries to solve the issue within five to six days. While Spain is struggling with its economy and unemployment, Santander is using modern technology to improve its infrastructure, ultimately improving resident’s lives by making the city run more efficiently.
Elsewhere, MIT Tech Review published a story about advances in renewable energy storage. EOS Energy Storage, a New York-based battery startup, is confident in its ability to create a battery capable of making renewable energy competitive with natural-gas power plants to provide power during times of peak demand. Developing storage for renewable energy will be crucial as renewable energy becomes more widely used. EOS’s battery is comprised of inexpensive materials including water, zinc and air. While this type of battery has been developed before, it’s been difficult to make them rechargeable. By using innovative methods, EOS is in the process of building a battery capable of improving efficiency from 60 percent to nearly 75 percent. While still a work in progress, EOD is making progress in the field of renewable energy storage, often seen as one of the biggest obstacles to switching to renewable energy.