From public brawls to garbage piles, cities are solving some long-standing nuisances.
Could the sweet smell of orange prevent fisticuffs? In Stratumseind, a street in the Dutch city of Eindhoven known for its nightlife, cylinders on lampposts and balconies dispense aromatherapy to deter brawls. After an experiment showed that citrus helped calm prisoners at police stations, Eindhoven is trying it out in an area where police break up fights an average 400 times a year.
Authorities in Brighton, England, have begun piping music into a pedestrian underpass that leads to the beach. The goal: To stop vandalism, antisocial behavior, and, worst of all, drunken micturition. The area was “a public toilet,” says Matthew Easteal, a senior projects manager for the city. The music led to dramatic improvements. “These things still happen but to a much lesser degree,” he says.
Garbage attracts rodents, smells bad, and takes up lots of space. But in Cascais, Portugal, just west of Lisbon, discreet street receptacles are connected to larger underground containers. The system, installed in 2015, relies on software to dispatch trucks when the subterranean containers are full. The city says the more efficient trash-collection routes reduce carbon dioxide emissions and save it about $1 million a year.
Pollution kills about 20,000 people a year in Mexico City, the most congested city in the world, according to the World Resources Institute. To combat the problem on one of its busiest bus lines, the city purchased 90 low-emission double-deckers. The vehicles transport more than 130,000 people a day, replacing 9,720 cars and reducing CO₂ emissions by 19,000 tons a year.