Deep Dive

Industry insights from our journalists

  • A safety driver monitors a self-driving Kodiak tractor-trailer navigate a turning ramp of a highway.
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    David Taube/Smart Cities Dive
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    ‘A totally different world’: Autonomous trucks prepare to go driverless in Texas

    Heavy-duty, driverless AVs could hit the state’s roads this year. The companies operating the vehicles say safety is a priority, but some critics are still concerned.

    David Taube • June 17, 2024
  • A shot of three construction workers mid sections.
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    Brandon Bell via Getty Images
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    The heat is on. Contractors say they’re ready.

    Commercial construction firms aren’t waiting on OSHA’s much-anticipated heat standard to protect their workers.

    Zachary Phillips • June 7, 2024
  • A construction worker atop a steel beam drinks from a bottle of water.
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    Brian Snyder/Reuters

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    Heat safety laws for workers in Texas, Florida, Phoenix to be put to the test

    As summer begins, some states prevent cities from mandating water breaks. Still, there are commonsense practices to protect workers from soaring temperatures, safety officials say.

    Zachary Phillips • May 28, 2024
  • Multiple pedestrians and cyclists cross at an intersection with designated crosswalk lanes. In the background a sign reads, "Seattle Children's Hospital, Emergency, Main Entrance, River Parking.."
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    Retrieved from Adam Coppola.
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    Cars are king of the commute. But employers may have a once-in-a-generation chance to change that.

    A perhaps overlooked element of the return-to-office conversation: How employees get to work in the first place.

    Ryan Golden, Shaun Lucas and Julia Himmel • March 27, 2024
  • Pylon with power lines against reddish sky at sunset, rural North Carolina, USA.
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    Karl Weatherly via Getty Images
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    Congressional action on energy permitting remains stuck, but states, developers are finding solutions

    States are resolving local objections to projects through community engagement while transmission developers are making innovative use of existing rights-of-way to bypass permitting logjams.

    Herman K. Trabish • Feb. 29, 2024
  • Pairs of empty shoes and boots on pavement.
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    Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa/AP

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    Advocates hope federal funding will help stem the tide of pedestrian deaths

    Complete Streets, Vision Zero and the safe system approach all aim to improve pedestrian safety. The federal government is finally putting big dollars behind the effort, too.

    Dan Zukowski, Julia Himmel and Shaun Lucas • Nov. 3, 2023
  • Cars and pedestrians navigate a rainy downtown street in Tucson, Arizona.
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    A.E. Araiza/Arizona Daily Star/AP

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    Can Sun Belt cities go from danger zones to pedestrian-friendly?

    Tucson, Jacksonville, Los Angeles and other fast-growing, car-centric cities are focusing on street design and other strategies to slow drivers.

    Dan Zukowski, Julia Himmel and Shaun Lucas • Nov. 2, 2023
  • Overhead view of pedestrians crossing a street in midtown Manhattan.
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    Bruce Bennett via Getty Images
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    US drivers kill 20 pedestrians a day. Here’s what cities are doing about it.

    Targeted interventions aim to reduce the higher pedestrian death rates in communities of color and low-income communities and make cities more walkable for all.

    Dan Zukowski, Julia Himmel and Shaun Lucas • Nov. 1, 2023
  • Technicians install heat pump systems at a training facility.
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    Leon Neal via Getty Images
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    Heat pumps are hot, but commercial retrofits face cold realities

    Government decarbonization strategies call for widespread deployment of heat pumps for building heating and cooling, but experts warn of retrofit costs, disruption and other concerns.

    Nish Amarnath • Oct. 23, 2023
  • Two people wielding shovels move organic material from a pallet to a composting bin while others look on.
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    (2018). "Baltimore Food Waste & Recovery Strategy" [Photograph]. Retrieved from Baltimore Office of Sustainability.
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    With a $4M EPA grant, Baltimore looks to chart a fresh course on composting

    The city's organics infrastructure is getting a jolt from the new funding. Composting advocates hope broader changes laid out in the city’s draft waste plan will follow.

    Jacob Wallace • Oct. 3, 2023
  • Lively mural on stone wall depicting waste collection workers on a truck
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    (2016). Retrieved from Baltimore Department of Public Works.
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    Baltimore faces expensive road ahead for waste infrastructure

    Despite pressure from advocacy groups, the city's 10-year waste plan anticipates landfill and incineration will continue to serve a key role as the city works to increase recycling.

    Jacob Wallace • Sept. 19, 2023
  • The front of a silver car is connected to an electric vehicle charger.
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    Drew Angerer via Getty Images
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    Accelerating EV adoption: Utilities partner with GM, BMW, Lyft and more in the auto sector

    Automakers and utilities “are now partners until the end of time, whether they like it or not,” said Joel Levin, executive director of Plug In America.

    Robert Walton • Sept. 7, 2023
  • Side view of electric motor coach with Amtrak livery.
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    Permission granted by MTRWestern
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    Amtrak begins its first electric bus service to complement train schedules

    While intercity passenger rail and bus lines often compete, they also collaborate, and some see partnerships as a predecessor to Amtrak expansion.

    Dan Zukowski • Aug. 16, 2023
  • A shift to remote work has softened the demand for office space, accelerating the need for commercial-to-residential conversions.
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    Fang Xia Nuo via Getty Images
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    Commercial-to-residential conversions could accelerate under HUD initiative

    Building industry experts say the Housing and Urban Development Department grant will give much-needed guidance on projects stalled by zoning hurdles and outdated permitting processes.

    Nish Amarnath • Aug. 4, 2023
  • A delivery robot crosses a busy street.
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    Carlos Osorio/AP

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    Delivery robot expansion hampered by ‘regulatory nightmare’

    While no states outright ban delivery bots, tech developers have decided to take a cautious approach to expansion rather than flood the market with robots and risk backlash.

    Max Garland • April 28, 2023
  • A photo of FedEx's roxo delivery robot shared with us OCt. 2020
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    Courtesy of FedEx
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    FedEx and Amazon still haven’t figured out sidewalk delivery robots. Will mass adoption ever come?

    Delivery giants' tests of autonomous bots fizzled out. But many logistics experts still believe that the technology can catch on, creating potential challenges for cities.

    Max Garland • April 13, 2023
  • A DroneUp pilot overseeing drone delivery at Walmart store
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    Courtesy of Walmart press kit DroneUp announcement
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    Drone companies gearing up to meet lofty delivery goals

    Zipline and Alphabet's Wing aim to scale up and reach more customers, which could soon lead to millions of deliveries each year, according to the companies.

    Max Garland • March 31, 2023
  • A rainwater harvesting and rain garden system.
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    Permission granted by City of Austin Watershed Protection Department
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    ‘Nature-based solutions’ like trees and rain gardens can be cost-effective climate adaptations, advocates say

    Momentum for land- and water-based infrastructure strategies has been increasing. The Biden administration’s road map and resource guide could speed adoption, advocates said.

    Kalena Thomhave • March 28, 2023
  • Exterior of a Whole Foods store.
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    Catherine Douglas Moran/Smart Cities Dive
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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