Dubai Is Lit: A San Francisco Company Brings Vertical Farming To The Middle East

A San Mateo-based company is bringing greens to the desert using hydroponic farming.

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Growing greens without using soil is all the rage. Photo via Flickr.

San Mateo-based Crop One Holding is bringing the best of the Salinas Valley (otherwise known as America’s salad bowl) to Dubai thanks to a new deal between the farming  company and Emirates Airlines. Crop One will build a 50-foot high sealed warehouse next to the Emirates runway where it will produce 3 tons of leafy vegetables per day for the airline to use for onboard meals.

Crop One grows its greens hydroponically which means it doesn’t use soil. Instead, it nourishes the plants with a nutrient-rich water and LED lights. For more on this cool technology you can check out this story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Thirsty California Takes A Deep Breath

This animated GIF seems to show the state breathing as water moves in and out of aquifers.

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Credit: Bryan Riel and Mark Simons

Water is California’s most precious resource and as global warming continues to take a toll, managing that resource is going to become increasingly important.

To help water managers better understand the underground aquifers that store the state’s water, geophysicists at Caltech used satellite photos that tracked the deformation of the earth over 18 years as Southern California aquifers were filled and emptied. The result is this GIF which seems to show the state breathing. Learn more about the study and its implications here.

 

Technology Is Helping To Save Lives In The Northern California Fires

Text alerts, Twitter, Nextdoor — California local governments are using any means necessary to alert people early about coming fires.

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A truck burned by the recent fires in Northern California.

The fires in Northern California have already burned thousands of acres and forced residents from their homes, but thankfully, the death toll has been relatively low. That’s because the counties around San Francisco have gotten savvier about using technology to alert people to leave their homes before the danger gets too close.

According to one article, the number of people who signed up to receive alerts in Sonoma County has jumped from 20,000 to 275,000. Governments are taking advantage of everything from Twitter to artificial intelligence to better reach people who need to evacuate. You can read more about the state’s efforts in this article on Xconomy.

Goal: Speed Security Lines At LAFC’s Stadium

Smarter security means quicker lines.

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Photo courtesy of LAFC.

Waiting in security lines sucks. It can sometimes feel like it takes as long to get into a venue as it does to enjoy the concert or the game. And as security needs increase, it’s likely only going to get worse.

The Bank of California stadium in LA, home to the city’s newest soccer team, LAFC, is hoping to make life a little easier through a partnership with CLEAR, a security company that uses biometrics to quickly move people through security lines. You can read more about the partnership here.

Small Cells For The Win: Powerful Connectivity During Major Events is No Longer a Wish List Item — It’s Now a Must

Great connectivity is no longer optional at sports arenas. Now it’s time for the rest of America to catch up.

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By Mike Montgomery

When the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers tipped off earlier this month in front of 20,000 fans at Oracle Arena, there were at least 20,000 (likely more) wireless devices in the audience. Those lucky enough to have scored the golden ticket didn’t hesitate to text, post on social networks, browse the web and yes, even stream live video during the game. And make no mistake about it, users expected that their messages, posts and videos would process without a hitch.

As anyone who has been to a sporting event, concert, rally or even a large graduation ceremony recently can attest, the absence of even a single bar or two of connectivity can be a frustrating experience. Networks quickly get bogged down when thousands of people with thousands of devices compete for the attention of the local communications infrastructure.

The most extreme example of this is the Super Bowl. In 2015 Verizon handled 7 terabytes of data at Super Bowl XLIX. In 2017, that number was up to 11 terabytes.

Stadiums use a hodgepodge of different methods to deal with the increased traffic. Today, most stadiums (including Oracle) have Wi-Fi — others work with communications companies on temporary solutions around large events.

Recently, we have seen stadiums take a more progressive and effective approach by installing antenna systems made up predominantly of a network of small cells — discreet nodes that can fit under seats or in the rafters. These antennas help build a more robust network inside the arena, specifically densifying the network by adding much needed capacity to deal with increased demand. That’s what U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis did before the most recent Super Bowl. Verizon upped its small cell count to 1,200 from 900, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, and AT&T and Sprint each deployed 800 small cells.

As demand for data grows, these tight-knit small cell networks must be expanded beyond stadiums and venues. Data traffic grew 238% over the last two years driven mostly by video and social networking. Further, traffic per user in North America is set to grow from 7 gigabytes today to 22GB by 2022.

The good news, small cells are already popping up in cities across America. Communications companies are investing heavily in small cell deployment understanding that our infrastructure is the bedrock of present and future connectivity. You see, not only do small cells add much needed capacity to power our current networks, but they are the key to ushering in the era of 5G – which will allow data to move 10 times faster than the current 4G network.

The bad news, largely due too unnecessary and dated regulatory red-tape, antennas are not being deployed quickly enough —a big reason the U.S. currently lags both China and South Korea is the race to 5G.

Just as the Warriors solidified themselves as the basketball dynasty of this generation with their clean sweep of the Cavaliers, America must establish itself as the technology dynasty of this generation by keeping us connected today and winning the race to 5G tomorrow — both of which start with infrastructure.

 

 

 

How Silicon Valley Became Silicon Valley

It turns out, Silicon Valley was always ahead of the curve.

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Silicon Valley is a $3 trillion neighborhood where Teslas, mansions and startups are thick on the ground. And it turns out, the area south of San Francisco was always a tech-forward region. Check out this entertaining and informative video from Tech Insider to learn more about how Silicon Valley became Silicon Valley.

Will California Amend The Constitution To Allow Sports Betting?

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Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled that states should be allowed to legalize betting on major sports such as baseball, football and basketball. Kyle Kirkland, of the California Gaming Association, argues that sports betting in the state could be a boon in terms of job creation and tax revenue. Others worry that legalized betting will encourage teams to throw games like we saw with the Chicago White Sox almost 100 years ago.

If sports betting is going to become an industry in California, the legislature will have to amend the state constitution. Merced Assemblyman Adam Gray says he is working on an amendment but it’s unlikely anything will happen this year. For more on California’s move to allow spots gambling read this, this and this.

The Less Glamorous Side Of California’s Economy

Three stories about the industries that power California’s economy.

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When outsiders think about the California economy, they usually boil it down to two industries: entertainment and tech. And while those might be our showiest exports, the reality is much more nuanced. For example, we’re the top agricultural producing state in the nation and we’re home to America’s busiest port.

NPR’s The Indicator podcast drills down into the nitty gritty of the California economy with three stories about celery, housing and ship horns.

L.A. Pols Want Waze Off Of Their Lawns

The app is sending drivers onto small residential streets.

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Like the proverbial old man shouting at the local kids to get off of his lawn, some Los Angeles politicians are now trying to get Waze off of local streets.

In a city where going two miles at rush hour can take up to an hour, the Google-owned app is directing drivers onto smaller residential streets during busy times.

That might be great for commuters but it’s rough for folks living on those small streets that are suddenly getting congested. It’s been a serious problem for people who use Baxter Street in the city’s Echo Park area.  On one of the steepest streets in L.A. (and the country), inexperienced Waze-directed drivers are causing accidents at an alarming rate.

Keep an eye on how the government and the tech company work together to solve this problem.

 

She Moves In Mysterious Ways

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What’s made of plastic, powered by air and able to squeeze into small spaces? Behold: Vinebot.

Vinebot, a flexible soft robot developed at Stanford University, is a thin plastic tube, inverted like an inside-out sock. When air or fluid is pumped into the tube, it everts and extends in one direction, lengthening from the end while the body stays still.

Aside from being entertaining to watch (see below), the Vinebot holds promise as a search-and-rescue tool because it can twist, turn and fit into spaces humans can’t. “The body can be stuck to the environment or jammed between rocks, but that doesn’t stop the robot because the tip can continue to progress as new material is added to the end,” lead author Elliot Hawkes told Stanford University News. According to Stanford, future iterations of the Vinebot could use water to grow — useful for delivering water to people trapped in tight spaces or extinguishing fires.

Here’s the Vinebot in action: