A Dangerous Idiocracy in Washington, D.C.

“Smart Sidewalk,” Dumb Reporting: Pavegen’s special pavers near DuPont Circle in Washington, D.C. are supposed to capture energy from foot traffic. They haven’t worked as advertised.

We on the Right have been awfully mean to The Washington Post, calling the paper’s  so-called reporters glorified Democrat stenographers, so dumb they can’t tell you who was the first secretary of the U.S. Treasury.  So it’s only fair to point out a couple of interesting articles by reporter Michael Laris that appeared in the Post’s Metro Section.

The articles describe the District of Columbia’s cutting-edge “Smart City” experiment. Why this glorious breakthrough in sustainable “human-generated power” was not considered worthy of the front page, I can’t imagine, because there is more to it than immediately meets the eye.

What is it? It’s a strip of sidewalk, composed of 194 triangular-shaped “interactive” pavers located in a small park near Dupont Circle overlooking Connecticut Avenue, hooked up to 68 underground power generators.  The project is the brain-child of a British outfit called Pavegen.

What it’s supposed to do: It connects “physical and digital worlds through a single footstep” according to Laurence Kemball-Cook, Pavegen’s founder and chief executive.

But really—what is it supposed to do? It’s meant to collect the energy from pedestrians’ footsteps, transfer it to the underground generators, which will turn on a set of “interactive lights on the sidewalk,” and power the “LEDs meant to glow at night under new park benches.”

Kinda like an electric light powered by hamsters on a treadmill.

Furthermore, the sidewalk has a digital uplink feature that is meant to communicate energy-production data to a web page, so that the ecological theocrats can feel virtuous, having satisfied the commandment to lower human dependence on fossil fuels.

Are there any problems with the project? Well, yes. For one thing, the digital uplink feature is “relatively power-hungry,” so that the energy consumed in uploading the data to the web page will exceed the energy produced by the system. In other words, the information will not be good news for the eco-nuts.

The interactive lights aren’t working. During the opening ceremony in November, the promoters did a jig on the pavers and six little embedded lights glowed in sync with their footsteps. But now, nada. Even Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers couldn’t turn these lights on.

The dumb Washington weather isn’t obliging. The weather in Britain isn’t as variable as it is in D.C., where the uncooperative winter “has made energy production 5 to 10 percent lower than expected.” Oops.

But perhaps Kemball-Cook’s disregard of the importance of weather conditions to his experiment shouldn’t come as a surprise. Previously, his attempt to develop a solar streetlight for a large German utility was “thwarted by shade and other conditions.”

“It didn’t work. I failed. So they fired me,” Kemball-Cook explained. Would that we did the same to the politicians who fail us.

The pedestrians aren’t being helpful. Folks walking to or from the Metro entrance are cutting corners or missing the paved strip entirely, thus “reducing by up to 20 percent the amount of energy piped into a big battery system.”

“We should have moved the whole thing two feet to the left.” Oops.

So is that the solution? Don’t know; “the complete ‘footfall’ numbers aren’t yet clear.” We also don’t know whether pedestrians are purposely evading the “Smart Sidewalk.”

You see, the tiles are stitched together “with the corners balancing on a silver connector tied to generators below. The force of a footstep slightly depresses the corners, which accounts for the little wiggle while people walk. The downward force spins a flywheel, complete with magnets and copper, generating the juice.”

It feels like walking on rubber, observed one pedestrian, who quickly detoured off the tiles.

Washingtonians are ignorant. According to one observer, “no one knows what they’re walking on.” Washingtonians need to be educated. A placard or two would inform them that they are part of a sustainable-energy revolution. As it is, they often ignore the tiles.

Indeed, pedestrians who step on the Smart Sidewalk are initially put off by the experience. But once they are told about how their energy is being captured for re-use, they’re OK with it. At least, that’s what they told the Post’s reporter. It won’t do to appear politically incorrect in the District.

A dog-walker’s point of view. It’s one thing if you use the sidewalk merely to get from point A to point B. But what if you earn your living from walking on sidewalks? Observed one D.C. dog-walker: “I’d just rather have a well-designed sidewalk that drains properly—and no gimmicks,” astutely adding, “If we’re the test case, did we pay the full price or did we get a discount?” A shrewd question, especially as the developer admits it’s “not the most cost-effective solution right now.”

D.C. is the test case for “Smart Sidewalks.” The developers are currently speaking with officials in Chicago, San Francisco and the Middle East about additional installations. The Middle East? Isn’t that where much of the world’s oil and gas comes from? Why would the tyrannical absolute rulers of those countries be interested in energy-saving pavers, especially when regular pavers are a lot less expensive?

To encourage pedestrians to use the Smart Sidewalks, the developer will offer smartphone users a “digital currency” they can presumably spend on stuff. Walk on our nausea-inducing pavers and earn credits. Once you opt into the system, it will be able to know who you are and recognize you when use the high-tech sidewalk.

People, you are going to be kinetically tracked by your government. Several years ago we learned from documents revealed by Edward Snowden that our government has been “systematically collecting the phone records and online communications of millions of American citizens.” Without a warrant.

With Smart Sidewalks, our government will be able to track every move we make. This should have been front-page news for the Post. Instead, idiots on the Left (and a few on the Right) are obsessing about the Russians. Pauvre America. Pauvre Humanité.

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