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Street Lamps as a Platform

Communications of the ACM

Street lamps constitute the densest electrically operated public infrastructure in urban areas. Their changeover to energy-friendly LED light quickly amortizes and is increasingly leveraged for smart city projects, where LED street lamps double, for example, as wireless networking or sensor infrastructure. We make the case for a new paradigm called SLaaP--street lamps as a platform. SLaaP is proposed as an open, enabling platform, fostering innovative citywide services for the full range of stakeholders and end users--seamlessly extending from everyday use to emergency response. In this article, we first describe the role and potential of street lamps and introduce one novel base service as a running example. We then discuss citywide infrastructure design and operation, followed by addressing the major layers of a SLaaP infrastructure: hardware, distributed software platform, base services, value-added services and applications for users and'things.' Finally, we discuss the crucial roles and participation of major stakeholders: citizens, city, government, and economy. Recent years have seen the emergence of smart street lamps, with very different meanings of'smart'--sometimes related to the original purpose as with usage-dependent lighting, but mostly as add-on capabilities like urban sensing, monitoring, digital signage, WiFi access, or e-vehicle charging.a The future holds even more use cases: for example, after a first wave of 5G mobile network rollouts from 2020 onward, a second wave shall apply mm-wave frequencies for which densely deployed light poles can be appropriate'cell towers.'


How lockdown is changing shopping for good

MIT Technology Review

Working together, they move the bins around nonstop, accessing specific items and delivering them to the people on the outside. On a busy day, these robots churn through 20,000 online orders, 80% of which are placed via smartphones. A growing number of retailers are turning to this kind of automation to out-compete their rivals. Robots keep costs down and make order fulfillment quicker and more accurate. Now, given a series of lockdowns that could go on for months or even years, this kind of small-scale automation could be key if retailers are to survive.


Sky internet down: Broadband outage hits customers across UK

The Independent - Tech

Sky internet appears to have been hit by network problems, causing issues for people trying visit websites and use other online services. Hundreds of reports were registered by Down Detector, while users also complained of problems on social media. "Can someone stick 50p in the meter or reconnect the wires?" one customer wrote on Twitter. "Sky internet is down again!" Similar outage reports spread online last month, after network issues in Cornwall left people unable to connect to the internet.


Minecraft Dungeons review – hours of fun for locked-down families

The Guardian

When the idea to make a Minecraft spinoff was first batted around at Mojang Studios, a dungeon crawler game must have been one of the first suggestions. From Gauntlet to Diablo, this genre has always featured dank subterranean lairs, treasure chests and warrior skeletons – all beloved Minecraft components. The signature blocky visuals also work well, ensuring that Minecraft Dungeons will look familiar to fans as they hurtle through dioramas of hack-and-slash fun that rearrange themselves each time you play. The plot is paper thin: a vengeful loner discovers a treasure that turns him into a powerful mage and duly begins a reign of terror over the Minecraft kingdom. The game can be played alone, but it is most enjoyable to play its co-op mode, which can be enjoyed on a console or online.


Let your robot do the work for you with a Roomba for $200 off

Mashable

Are you getting a bit tired of spring cleaning, but you're house isn't necessarily spotless just yet? Don't worry, we all need an extra hand sometimes. Right now, that extra hand is a Roomba. Keep your carpets and hardwood floors free from dirt, dust, pet hair, and even large debris like that piece of cereal that may have fallen during breakfast. The Roomba 890's lightweight design allows you to easily carry it from one room to another, while its Wi-Fi connectivity allows you to start cleaning even when you aren't home.


California Activists Ramp Up Fight Against Facial-Recognition Technology

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

"This is a bill being sold as a privacy bill, but it's a wolf in sheep's clothing," Matt Cagle, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, said in an interview. The ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation and other civil liberties groups held a virtual rally Thursday night to rail against the bill, calling it vaguely worded and potentially dangerous for low-income communities hit hard by the coronavirus. Their remarks were the latest shots fired from a campaign to halt the legislation. The bill's fate in California--which has pushed for more aggressive privacy protections in recent years--could foreshadow how a potentially huge market for facial recognition technology is regulated by other states. The bill calls for companies and agencies that use facial recognition tools in areas accessible to the public to "provide a conspicuous and contextually appropriate notice" that faces may get scanned.


Identifying light sources using machine learning

AIHub

The identification of light sources is very important for the development of photonic technologies such as light detection and ranging (LiDAR), and microscopy. Typically, a large number of measurements are needed to classify light sources such as sunlight, laser radiation, and molecule fluorescence. The identification has required collection of photon statistics or quantum state tomography. In recently published work, researchers have used a neural network to dramatically reduce the number of measurements required to discriminate thermal light from coherent light at the single-photon level. In their paper, authors from Louisiana State University, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Max-Born-Institut describe their experimental and theoretical techniques.


'Trials of Mana' is a perfect little escapist fantasy with simple rules and immediate rewards

Washington Post - Technology News

That's not to say "Trials of Mana" offers little. On a normal difficulty, it offers at least 20 hours of gameplay, including a new chapter. And like the original game, it offers you six heroes to choose from, all with their own stories, abilities to learn and weapons to gain. You can take up to three of the characters through the whole game. And each character comes with at least six different classes, only widening the combat possibilities.


Working from home amid coronavirus crisis welcome new normal in Massachusetts: survey

Boston Herald

This working from home routine is growing on people. The Pioneer Institute surveyed 700 people -- most in Greater Boston -- during the coronavirus pandemic and nearly 63% said they want to stick at home at least one day a week permanently. That, says the think tank, will be a major factor on how companies invest in commercial real estate and how the state should deliver public transportation where -- and when -- it's needed. "The survey results suggest that the pandemic may lead to significant shifts in attitudes toward commuting, with potentially large impacts on the demand for commercial real estate in major job centers, internet connectivity, and transit and transportation planning and budgeting," said Andrew Mikula, who authored the analysis. The survey hits just weeks after the MBTA announced it will likely need to use about a quarter of the $827 million emergency federal funding it received to close a major pandemic-caused revenue gap in this year's budget.


Coronavirus: The strangers reaching out to Kyrgyzstan's lonely teenagers

BBC News

Like teenagers around the world, Maksat hasn't been to school in weeks. As Kyrgyzstan imposed quarantine restrictions, the 15-year-old feels isolated like never before. He has been trapped at home with a sister he doesn't get on with, a father he struggles to communicate with and a mother working abroad. He is comfortable talking only to an internet chat bot. Maksat (not his real name) feels alone and misunderstood.