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A look back at 2016: the year's top stories


Looking at where we've been and what we've done can be valuable. While reflecting on the past can't fix the mistakes we've made, it can help us avoid making them again. And it may even provide clues to where we're going and what we'll be doing in the near future. In that spirit, we're sharing our 10 most widely read news articles from 2016. — Doug Peeples


Scroll down for a quick recap of the year's top stories.

10. Comprehensive tools to create more apps. Council Lead Partners AT&T, Cisco, IBM and Qualcomm and Associate Partner Intel partnered on a tool to help cities create a wide variety of apps for their departments. The partners, led by AT&T, offer a framework to assist cities in several critical areas, including infrastructure, transportation, public safety and citizen engagement.

9. A semi-autonomous bus to get people out of their cars. Traffic management is key to improving overall mobility for citizens. A semi-autonomous bus from Council Lead Partner Daimler made its first test run in Amsterdam during the summer. The Mercedes-Benz Future Bus is capable of driving itself, but a driver is required by traffic laws. The bus features comfortable seating and display screens so passengers can watch their progress.

8. Why millennials matter and how to attract them. Cities need a well-trained and educated workforce to attract new businesses and sustain a competitive edge and robust economy.. Read our story to learn the three things your city needs to do to attract them.

7. A growing commitment to interoperability. European leaders called for a common platform to guide cities as they take on smart technology projects. The reason? To make the process more efficient and reduce the number of not necessarily interoperable tailor-made solutions.

6. How to be a global smart cities leader. Denmark has an impressive track record for its ability to integrate digital technologies as it upgrades its cities and builds new ones. The country's five-point strategy is ambitious, but designed to benefit citizens and the environment. It's an approach you may be able to adapt for your city.

5. A faster track to a smarter city. If your city wants to accelerate its smart city transformation, a report from Council Associate Partner Black & Veatch identifies the elements that can frequently make smart city development a slow, cumbersome process. Understanding the problems is a solid first step in understanding how to fix them.

4. Smart street lights: much more than lamps on a pole. The benefits of smart streetlights extend far beyond brighter streets and walkways. Not only are they energy-efficient and cost-effective, but systems from companies like Associate Partner Huawei and Current, Powered by GE, offer the capability of adding numerous sensors and applications to lighting systems to monitor air pollution, monitor traffic flows and much more.

3. Engaging citizens in the digital age. Citizens engaged with their city and its governance are essential for successful smart cities. And achieving true engagement isn't simply a matter of flashy new phone apps or convenient ways to pay bills. This three-part series defines strategies cities can use to promote citizen involvement and learn more about their residents so they can serve them better.

2. Three dangerous traffic myths. It's true that traffic congestion is getting worse as city populations grow. But what isn't true are three widely-believed myths that can prevent cities from taking steps to solve their traffic-related problems. There are ways to make significant improvements without building more roads or investing huge amounts of money.

And our top story? Smart ways to clean up your cities
Dirty cities are public health hazards and can be economically damaging. That's why many cities have turned to technology to reduce illegal trash dumping and other waste management issues. Council Associate Partner Enevo profiled how six cities are successfully taking care of their trash problems. Whether it's surveillance and stepped up enforcement at specific locations or sensors that monitor waste levels in receptacles or a combination of several solutions, they offer ways for cities to efficiently and cost-effectively manage waste.

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.