California Has 4 Of The 10 Most Innovative Cities In The US

So. Many. Patents.

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In case there was any doubt that Californians are an inventive bunch, now there’s a list to prove it.

There are four Californian metropolitan areas in the U.S.’s 10 most innovative cities, according to a list compiled by 24/7 Wall St. based on data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area, which is home to Silicon Valley, tops the list, generating 14,618 patents in 2015, or 739 per 100,000 people.

Santa Cruz-Watsonville, which is home to the University of California at Santa Cruz, is fifth. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont is seventh while San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos is ninth. 24/7 Wall St. compiled its list from  U.S. Patent and Trademark Office data for the year 2015, the most recent year that data is available. Read more here.

Big Idea: A Tech Dividend For Californians

How can the Golden State spread its wealth beyond Silicon Valley?

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California should consider a technology dividend to spread the wealth of the state beyond Silicon Valley, according to a leading academic. Such a scheme should be modelled on programs like Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend, which pays residents of that state an annual dividend funded by oil industry revenues.

Chris Benner, the Director of the Santa Cruz Institute for Social Transformation at UC Santa Cruz, argued in an editorial for the Mercury News that the dividend would be fair because of substantial public funding for technology. He cited the National Science Foundation’s grant that resulted in the creation of the algorithm that underpins Google’s search technology. Read more here.

Cali-Based Company Shows Genes Aren’t Always Destiny

New DNA discoveries show longevity might not be written in our genes.

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DNA may not influence longevity.

Google-backed biotech and research company Calico— which is short for California Life Company— has discovered that a person’s DNA has far less influence on lifespan than previously thought. The results were published last week in the journal Genetics. The Silicon Valley-based company analyzed the data of around 400 million people who lived and died in Europe and America going back to 1800 from the genealogy firm Ancestry.

“The true heritability of human longevity for that cohort is likely no more than seven percent,” said a Calico scientist. Previous estimates for how much genes explain variations in lifespan have ranged from around 15 to 30 percent. Read more here.

This Latch Will Stop E-Scooters Falling On San Francisco’s Sidewalks

A company that operates a fleet of scooters in the city has come up with a neat onboard solution to keep the vehicles upright.

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Photo courtesy SkipScooter.

Electric scooters are our friends in the fight against city traffic and air pollution, and they are growing in popularity. But they can also be a nuisance to sidewalk users if they fall over, blocking the way of walkers, wheelchair users and stroller-pushers.

San Francisco-based Skip Scooters, which is one of only two companies with a permit to operate a fleet in the city, is addressing the problem with a new feature. It’s a simple high-strength steel wire with a latch that is neatly stowed in the blue casing that surrounds the scooter stem. The wire can be looped around a bike rack and then clicked back into the side of the scooter.

The scooters with the tethering feature are slated to be tested during a year-long pilot project in San Francisco. Skip is also testing in Long Beach, San Jose, and Oakland. Read more here.

As California Fires Rage On, Infrared Technology Is Helping Firefighters On The Front Lines

The tech allows drones to see through the smoke to the heart of the fires.

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This summer’s Thomas Fire was one of the biggest in California history.

This has been a devastating year for wildfires in California. In August, three of the biggest fires in California history were all blazing at the same time charring 820,000 acres across the state.

But even as the fire cycle seems to be getting worse, new technology is helping firefighters beat down the blazes more efficiently. The California Air National Guard is using drones equipped with infrared technology to fly above fires and see through the smoke. In one instance, the drone was able to see that firefighters who thought they were battling one spot fire were actually in a ring of seven fires that were closing in.

Read more about how this technology is changing the way we fight fires in California here.

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.