Deep Dive

Industry insights from our journalists

  • Exterior of a Whole Foods store.
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    Catherine Douglas Moran/Smart Cities Dive

    Whole Foods’ controversial exit from a Chicago neighborhood, explained

    The chain’s experience in the Englewood community highlights the opportunities and pitfalls grocers can face in areas with limited access to affordable and healthy foods.

    Catherine Douglas Moran • Feb. 3, 2023
  • Many people exit and enter a silver New York City subway trains at a Manhattan underground station.
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    Spencer Platt via Getty Images

    To close budget gaps, transit agencies face hard decisions in 2023

    Remote work, crime and reduced service are deterring riders and cutting into fare revenue, leaving agencies to look for new funds or cut service.

    Dan Zukowski • Jan. 31, 2023
  • EV charging
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    Mario Tama via Getty Images

    Electric vehicles near ‘tipping point’ in 2023

    Key developments for EV adoption this year include implementing federal incentives, developing a national charging network and addressing utility issues, according to transportation, energy and real estate professionals.

    Robert Walton • Jan. 20, 2023
  • Clients checking in for services at The Beacon, a Houston-based service provider for individuals experiencing homelessness. The organization is part of the Houston region's continuum of care.
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    Permission granted by Chris Kuhlman

    How Houston uses data to back its housing-first homeless strategy

    The data-driven approach helps the system's leaders prioritize programs that succeed in housing people over those that meet short-term needs.

    Danielle McLean • Jan. 17, 2023
  • Homeless outreach coordinators at an encampment in Houston.
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    Permission granted by Permission granted by SEARCH, Harris Health and the Coalition for the Homeless

    Why coordinated care is key to Houston’s housing-first approach to homelessness

    “A client’s ability to get assistance should not hinge on talking to the right person at the right agency on the right day with the right knowledge of some bed that they might qualify for,” one city official said.

    Danielle McLean • Dec. 13, 2022
  • View of downtown Houston during sunset on a clear day with townhouses on the foreground. Viewed from Washington Avenue area.
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    pabst_ell via Getty Images

    Houston’s housing-first model is reducing homelessness. Here’s how it works and the obstacles it faces.

    Over 90% housed under Houston’s housing-first program have remained housed for over two years, city officials say. But further progress is challenged by a housing shortage and other factors.

    Danielle McLean • Dec. 5, 2022
  • "Black Owned Business" sign in a window
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    Wachiwit via Getty Images

    How Black-owned grocers are filling industry gaps

    From a cashierless store in Atlanta to health-focused pop-up markets in Los Angeles and Chicago, grocery concepts from Black entrepreneurs are making the changes they want to see in food landscapes.

    Catherine Douglas Moran • Sept. 15, 2022
  • San Francisco's Pit Stop public restroom.
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    Permission granted by San Francisco Public Works

    Two cities’ approaches to increasing public bathrooms

    After officials were confronted with problems linked to the lack of public restrooms, San Francisco committed to improving access. In Seattle, a nonprofit is taking the lead.

    Adina Solomon • Aug. 2, 2022
  • An installed Portland Loo public toilet. Philadelphia plans to install six Portland Loos starting this fall.
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    Permission granted by The Portland Loo

    The struggle to find a public toilet

    U.S. cities don't have enough public toilets. Coupled with a homelessness crisis, the shortage brings health and safety concerns. Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., are among the cities working toward equitable hygiene.

    Adina Solomon • July 27, 2022
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    Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images via Getty Images

    As more cities declare crises around climate and affordability, does change follow?

    Declaring emergencies can unlock some new capabilities and foster accountability, but substantial government follow-through is necessary to separate them from mere speech, city leaders say.

    Adina Solomon • June 7, 2022
  • Ithaca, NY welcome sign
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    Robert Walton/Smart Cities Dive

    Inside Ithaca's plan to electrify 6,000 buildings and grow a regional green workforce using private equity funds

    The city has mustered $105 million in private funds to support low-cost loans for businesses and residents to install heat pumps.

    Robert Walton • June 3, 2022
  • Senior City TOD at Federal Way Transit Center May 9, 2019
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    Courtesy of Sound Transit

    Transit-oriented development catches on as cities need to boost ridership and housing supply

    Cities are opting to build mixed-use developments near public transportation, but experts in Seattle, Atlanta and elsewhere say getting it right is a big challenge.

    Adina Solomon • April 1, 2022
  • MBTA Silver Line electric bus at World Trade Center station.
    Image attribution tooltip
    Permission granted by MBTA

    More electric buses join transit fleets as costs and technology improve

    As zero-emission buses are added to more transit fleets, officials and bus manufacturers are optimistic about their potential, but they caution that planning, training and learning from other cities are needed.

    Dan Zukowski • Jan. 31, 2022
  • The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning, retrieved by Marketing Dive on Dec. 22, 2021.
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    Retrieved from Ford on December 22, 2021

    The road ahead: How legacy auto brands will level the EV playing field in 2022

    After setting the stage at CES with lofty product announcements, carmakers will focus on value, range and brand heritage to close the gap with disrupters like Tesla.

    Peter Adams • Jan. 5, 2022
  • virtual senior center
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    Permission granted by Selfhelp Community Services

    Older adults turn to technology during an 'epidemic of loneliness'

    The pandemic kick-started local efforts to get more older adults online with the help of federal broadband investments to bridge the digital divide.

    Cailin Crowe • Jan. 4, 2022
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    Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

    Living wage ordinances' greatest effect may be on public opinion

    The living wage movement fought to boost pay for city contractor employees. These efforts had limited community effects, but they likely laid the groundwork for today’s movement toward higher minimum wages, researchers said.

    Adina Solomon • Dec. 13, 2021
  • A white electric car. It does not use gasoline or petrol. A rechargeable vehicle. It is charging in front of the electric station to make a full charge. There are blue tones in the background. Skyscra
    Image attribution tooltip
    Reklamlar/DigitalVision Vectors via Getty Images

    'A long way to go': How utilities are helping 6 cities meet big EV goals

    From New York City to Los Angeles, cities and utilities face cost, land and grid challenges in their efforts to electrify transportation systems.

    Robert Walton, Emma Penrod, Jason Plautz and Scott Van Voorhis • Nov. 30, 2021
  • Futuristic mobility illustration
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    Adeline Kon/Smart Cities Dive

    Flying taxis, hyperloops and driverless cars: Is it too early to start planning for future mobility?

    Miami, Orlando and Pittsburgh are planning for air mobility and other novel modes of transport decades ahead. Critics say focusing on flashy, futuristic technologies distracts from simpler solutions for today.

    Jason Plautz • Nov. 19, 2021
  • Photo for Smart Cities Dive's Reassessing the smart cities movement project
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    Adeline Kon/Smart Cities Dive

    The future of smart cities: Leaders forecast more digitally just governance

    Over the next five years, smart cities will emphasize digital justice, community trust and data-led decisions, city leaders say. But roadblocks — like funding and a public sector aversion to risk — could stand in the way. 

    Cailin Crowe • Nov. 17, 2021
  • Image attribution tooltip
    David Dee Delgado/Getty Images via Getty Images

    Flooding risk complicates cities' push to legalize basement apartments

    In the age of extreme weather, amid the deaths of 11 New Yorkers living in basement units following heavy rainfall from remnants of Hurricane Ida, cities aim to balance safety with affordable housing accessibility.

    Jason Plautz • Nov. 11, 2021
  • Reassessing the Smart Cities Movement
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    Adeline Kon/Smart Cities Dive

    Smart city evolution: How cities have stepped back from a 'tech arms race'

    Following the 'first wave' of the smart cities movement, local leaders describe how they have largely shifted from a tech-first to a resident-first approach.

    Danielle McLean, Maria Rachal and Dan Zukowski • Nov. 9, 2021
  • Propelling the Transition: As Ford, GM and others invest billions in EVs, will the power system be ready?
    Image attribution tooltip
    Adeline Kon/Smart Cities Dive

    As Tesla, Ford and others invest billions in EVs, will the power system be ready?

    The new White House zero emission vehicle target of 50% of new car sales by 2030 has a long way to go, a short time to get there, and big challenges ahead.

    Herman K. Trabish • Nov. 3, 2021
  • Intro art for Smart Cities Dive Back to Basics project.
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    Adeline Kon/Smart Cities Dive

    15 city leaders define a ‘smart city’

    Smart Cities Dive asked major U.S. cities to weigh in on the past, present and future of their smart city efforts. In the first story of a multipart series, we highlight how city leaders define the term today.

    Danielle McLean • Nov. 2, 2021
  • A screenshot of the city of Boston's digital twin from the Boston Planning and Development Agency website. It had last been updated on August 2021.
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    Permission granted by The Boston Planning and Development Agency's 3D Smart Model

    Are digital twins the future of urban planning?

    Digital 3D models can help city leaders plan for the future, but their value will depend on the data.

    Adina Solomon • Nov. 1, 2021
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    Joe Raedle via Getty Images

    Amtrak plans major expansion by 2035 if infrastructure bill passes

    Amtrak's expansion plans could connect small towns and reduce inequalities, while boosting development, housing and jobs in cities. However, those ambitions face some hurdles. 

    Dan Zukowski • Oct. 20, 2021