Deep Dive

Industry insights from our journalists

  • 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Housing and Urban Development Department grant will give much-needed guidance on projects stalled by zoning hurdles and outdated permitting processes.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
  • San Francisco's Pit Stop public restroom.
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    Permission granted by San Francisco Public Works
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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.
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    Permission granted by MBTA
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    Reklamlar/DigitalVision Vectors via Getty Images
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    '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