Category Archives: Technology

Blog upgrade

Congratulations on your purchase!

Your new domain is being set up. Your site is doing somersaults in excitement!


Today after years of fooling around, I finally got serious about this blog.  I paid a fee so you will no longer see the underwear ads next to my posts.  There must be no complaining, and there is no turning back, as the Rubicon has already been crossed.

I also added the domain name =, so you should be able to find the blog there from now on.

The upgrade also got me to the stats page, and I noticed a bump to 612 views for the E.coli water test post.

Ingenious uses of technology

This article from my Route Fifty e-newsletter had a list of the winners of pitches of technology made at the SXSW Mayor’s Summit.  All were interesting, but this winner seemed especially ingenious to me:


5G may look different in Medfield

Medfield already has one Verizon permitted antennae on a light pole, in front of Palumbo Liquors, and according to this article, we may be seeing many more.  The Board of Selectmen were told when presented with that pole antennae application, that in Massachusetts Verizon had the right to install on an existing pole.  The town gets no revenue from that antennae.  By contrast, the antennae on our two water towers pay, from memory, about $30K/year /antennae).


Why Cities Should Jump at the Chance to Add Cell Towers to Streetlights

COMMENTARY | In a contributed piece, the authors suggest compromises and efficiencies to ensure cities do not get left behind in the 5G revolution.

This is the first in two contributed articles on broadband access and local government’s role in building better connectivity for its citizens. Read the second one here.

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. —  Numerous state lawmakers are filing bills to encourage or even compel large cities to incorporate cell towers into existing municipal infrastructures. Not everyone is sold on the proposition.

Wireless carriers want to install miniature cell towers on utility poles and streetlights to keep up with fifth-generation—commonly known as 5G—cell phone technology. Carriers plan to install more than 250,000 small cell sites across the U.S. in the next few years, but they require broad access to public property in order to proceed. Legislators have introduced wireless siting bills in 25 states so far this year, with hopes to begin work on installations in 2018.

In Illinois, for instance, legislation intended to streamline this process has enjoyed a cold reception. The Small Cell Wireless Bill passed the Illinois House and Senate during the 2017 veto session, though State Senate President John Cullerton decided to hold the legislation after public outcry from area communities. Policymakers said they hoped to negotiate with local officials who have called on Gov. Bruce Rauner to veto the bill.


Meanwhile, both sides of this ongoing debate have been clashing in California Gov. Jerry Brown late last year vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for telecommunications companies to install the small transmitters on public property. Brown argued the permitting process for new technology must be weighed against the right of local governments to manage public property under their jurisdiction.

Skeptics claim these small cell sites will be more of an eyesore than an asset, but city dwellers should welcome this beneficial blend of private tech and public property.


A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships

Opponents argue that this integration of street furniture and tech will harm community aesthetics and historical preservation. Local and state representatives who oppose the legislation, however, will cause self-inflicted wounds to the long-term prosperity of their communities.

By attaching small cell antennas to streetlights and other street furniture, carriers will be able to use 5G technology to deliver wireless data much more effectively. Wireless customers in affected areas will enjoy improved coverage, fewer dropped calls, and faster download speeds.


5G technology saw an informal test in Minneapolis during Super Bowl LII, after Verizon crews installed 250 of the small cell sites throughout downtown Minneapolis to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of out-of-town visitors for the big game. The stadium itself was blanketed in wireless signals, with antennas hidden in everything from handrails to small boxes scattered among the stadium’s seats.

As 5G technology gains traction, wireless carriers hope to eventually supplant cable as the primary provider of home internet service. Speeds on 5G networks are better than traditional cable internet, and the wireless service can compete with high-end fiber networks. Homes within reach of these small cell sites would no longer require wired connections, but the infrastructure for this sort of network does not exist in many communities. As a solution, carriers want to pepper small cell antennas on existing street furniture.

Critics contend the wireless industry’s initiative will roll back public efforts to expand broadband access to underserved and rural areas. In truth, the push to install cell antennas on public furniture would actually support these efforts by forcing cable providers to bolster their infrastructure and reduce their rates in order to remain competitive.

According to Deloitte, the U.S. must spend more than $100 billion over the next five to seven years to support fiber infrastructure demands. Wireless providers can ease this burden by densifying their networks, increasing consumer access along the way. Carriers would partner with municipalities to design, permit, and construct saturated wireless networks, benefitting all parties involved.

Residents want improved connectivity, but they fear unsightly additions to city structures. To mitigate this aesthetic issue, cities should require companies to shroud antennas and install non-transmitting equipment below ground.

In exchange, cities should agree to give wireless carriers and cable companies a free market in which to solve the digital divide. To build seamless networks, wireless companies will need to serve all high-density areas — including impoverished districts. By simplifying the installation and permitting processes, cities will be able to facilitate better services for their citizens with minimal effort.

Leaping from Legislation to Implementation

Before this technology can change things for the better, local leaders must modify municipal policies and procedures. Steep lease rates for cell towers on private property inflate the operating expenses of wireless carriers. Low-cost access to public street furniture would remedy this issue, reducing operating expenses for carriers and freeing up capital for infrastructure improvements and denser networks.

Many municipalities lack defined fee structures and approval processes for the corporate use of public property. By creating straightforward licensing procedures, cities can help carriers plan ahead for new networks. Public works departments should interfere as little as possible, only stopping proposals that overstep the common sense of aesthetics and function. If cities keep rates fair and permitting reasonable, carriers can pass their savings on to customers.

Communities that oppose the installation of 5G technology on their assets risk falling behind other municipalities that cooperate with carriers. Technology-fueled startups and participants in the gig economy prefer areas with better technology. If one city is saturated with high-speed wireless service while another avoids upgrades, startups are more likely to flock to the city with the better technological offering.

Fast internet service is the lifeblood of the global economy. In nations with fewer regulations on wireless infrastructure, carriers provide denser networks with better service at lower costs. Without reliable, affordable access to these advanced systems, American communities will trail behind their global counterparts.

To remain globally competitive, government officials must work with the wireless industry to rethink commercial access to public assets. By cooperating with carriers on permitting and reasonable use rates, municipalities can create room for compromise on the shrouding and location of new equipment. Opening city hall for business will create new economic opportunities for wireless generations to come

Autonomous vehicles arrive

We need to plan for the changes autonomous vehicles will make in town, and to new developments, such as at the former MSH site.  I think this will be a boon to older residents who are no longer driving themselves, and also as a way to network various parts of town to the downtown and to one another, and, also, to link us to regional transportation hubs.  This article is from Efficient Government  –

The Driverless Taxis Are Here — This Year

Driverless Uber taxi in Pittsburgh.

Image: Flickr

They are not the future, in some cities, driverless taxis are taking riders now. Auto manufacturers are also ramping up orders and requesting Federal approvals for autonomous level four vehicle production.

Driverless taxis are already on the road in Pittsburgh, and GeekWire is covering all the details of what’s happening at the facility where 200 Volvos, equipped with LIDAR cameras, drive themselves in and out. According to Uber’s website, the test drives are collecting data with real passengers excited to take their self-driving selfiies:

We’re piloting a program now where you can get matched up with a self-driving Uber when you request uberX. When you do, you get a glimpse of the future AND access to the selfie machine. Mind. Blown.

But it’s not just Uber, and it’s not just Pittsburgh. Driverless taxis are operating in Phoenix, Arizona, and coming to Greenville County, South Carolina, and at least to the seven states that have already authorized autonomous vehicle operation.

According to the Greenville News, the Federal Highway Administration awarded the county $4 million to develop a public automated taxi system that would be the first of its kind in the nation.

These funds will help Greenville County lead the nation into a future with more driverless vehicles, which will improve mobility for some and reduce traffic congestion for all,” Acting Federal Highway Administrator Brandye L. Hendrickson said.

According to ArsTechnica, Waymo, the company conducting the first U.S. public trial of self-driving cars in Phoenix, just placed an order for an overwhelming number of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans. The Google-spawned company suggested it is moving beyond self-driving tests in Phoenix, Michigan and Atlanta and scaling up for wider autonomous vehicle operations.

With the world’s first fleet of fully self-driving vehicles on the road, we’ve moved from research and development, to operations and deployment,” said John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo.

According to NBC News, General Motors (GM) plans is asking to sweep seven states with driverless taxis by 2019.

GM asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for waivers covering 16 regulations, said Kyle Vogt, the CEO of Cruise Automation, an autonomous technology company owned by GM. With Federal and state approvals, the company said it would produce 2,500 driverless Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles per year.

In addition to driverless taxis, cities like Las Vegas are testing driverless shuttles.

London’s Driverless Shuttle ‘Harry’ Begins Taking Riders

The GATEway driverless shuttle began taking riders around the Greenwich Peninsula in the U.K.’s first public trial of autonomous electric vehicles.

Computer keyboard shortcuts

These are good computer keyboard shortcut keys to work into your tool box.  I only used about half of them, but will add the others..

The more you stay on the keyboard and keep your eyes on the screen, the faster and more efficient you will be.

Meetings notices must be better

A resident complained to me this morning at my selectman office hours about the fact that it is difficult to get advance notice of town board meetings one may be interested in attending.  In this instance, Tony Centore said that he has been following the recommendations made by the Economic Development Committee for the use of the town owned Lot 3 off Ice House Road, since he has advocated that the site be devoted to housing for seniors, due to the special synergies from the  proximity to The Center.

Tony does subscribe to the town daily email that comes each morning and lists all the town board meeting taking place that day, but in this instance, he failed to see that email until after the Economic Development Committee meeting had already taken place last night.

I agree that the town needs to create a better system so that people who are interested in following and/or getting information from a particular town board should be able to:

  • sign up to get sent to them the meeting notices at the same time those notices are sent to the committee members, plus
  • likewise similarly receive any documents sent out to the board members of that committee.

This makes sense to do because the town information should be made universally available to residents, and technology allows for this process to be automated (and operated via an online sign up system).  All meeting notices are required to be posted at least 48 hours before the meeting occurs, so there should be no reason that the town’s current email notice could not at least give two days advance notice of all meetings.


  • Town meetings are all open meetings, open to anyone; and
  • The documents are all public records and should be readily available to interested residents.

The town system should make it both easy and totally transparent for anyone who is interested to get the same information and at the same time that the committee members are getting.  I will ask for that to be an agenda item at the next meeting of the selectmen.

New town email protocol

The town switched over this month to a new email system, based on Gmail I am told.  And as a result, all town side email addresses have been standardized using the protocol of “[first initial][last name]”

Per the school website, the schools appear to be using “[first initial][last name]” as their protocol.

Helpful for us going forward to have email addresses standardized, but for now my emails are getting bounced back to me and I am having to update lots of emails in my computer database.

I just emailed to Mike, Kris, and Evelyn asking them to add to the agenda of the next meeting of the selectmen the issue of whether the town devotes 1.5% of usable land in town to affordable housing, so as to exempt the town from G. L. c. 40B, as Newton has just done. Two of those three emails bounced.

This was the recent article in the Globe on Newton doing so –


Newton reaches Chapter 40B threshold
By Ellen IshkanianGlobe Correspondent December 28, 2014

Calculations made by various city departments over the past several weeks have determined that Newton has met an affordable-housing threshold, and no longer falls under the parameters of the state’s Chapter 40B affordable-housing law, according to the city’s attorney.


The determination was made through sophisticated satellite technology, legal analysis, cross-referencing, and double-checking of figures, said City Solicitor Donnalyn B. Lynch Kahn.


According to figures provided by the Planning Department, 1.88 percent of the city’s land is used for affordable housing, passing the 1.5 percent threshold stipulated in the 40B law.


Kahn said the city is among the first to use the land area stipulation to override the 40B law, but meeting the threshold does not mean the city can automatically reject new housing proposals. Rather, she said, “The need for affordable housing no longer automatically trumps local concerns.”


The Zoning Board of Appeals on Dec. 18 used the city’s new status for the first time, putting developers of a proposed 150-unit apartment complex off Rowe Street on notice that the city has met the affordable-housing threshold.


“It no longer becomes our mandate to put in affordable units and still make sure the developer makes a profit,” said the board’s chairwoman, Brooke K. Lipsitt. “40B will be a less attractive opportunity for developers. . . . But personally, I hope we can continue to develop affordable housing in the city.”


Developers have the right to appeal the Zoning Board of Appeals’s use of the threshold and challenge the city’s figures, Kahn said, but she is confident the city has used conservative calculations that put it well over the 1.5 percent mark.


The city has calculated the land area coverage as well as the percentage of affordable housing units in the city for every 40B development that has been proposed, according to Kahn, who said this is the first time the city’s figures have showed that the land area threshold has definitively been met.


Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at eishkanian@




Smart use of technology in street cuts

This from Efficient Government’s email, placing RFID chips in streets that are opened, so as to track who is responsible –

Reader Profile: How Dayton is Tracking Utility Street Cuts with RFID Tags

What Happened?
Dayton, Ohio, is requiring all utility street cut restorations to contain a RFID tag to track the responsible utility company.  The city hopes to become more efficient by quickly identifying the owner of a deteriorating or damaged existing utility street cut to speed up the time for the utility company to make repairs.

When a utility company, or its contractor, makes an opening within the roadway to attend to utility lines in Dayton, they are required to first purchase a utility permit through the City Engineer’s office and then permanently restore the pavement once work is complete.  With this permit, they are given RFID tags associated with this individual project.  These RFID tags are preprogrammed with:

  • Year of restoration
  • Utility permit number
  • Utility company responsible for the work

Most utility street cuts in Dayton are small in size; however there are plenty of larger cuts that span the entire width of the street or narrow trenches that run several hundred feet in length.  Once the contractor completes the utility underground work, they will restore the street cut in kind, and place a RFID tag just below the last 1.5-2 inches of asphalt.

Since the RFID tags are below the travelled roadway and cannot be seen, Dayton requires the contractor to place them in the middle of all street cuts, and for longer or wider trenches, at both ends of the street cut and every 50 feet. When a citizen registers a complaint with Dayton’s engineering office regarding an unsafe utility street cut, the city’s utility inspector will investigate and determine what utility company is responsible for repairs to this area.

Before RFID technology, this investigation period could take several hours if the utility inspector arrived on site and had to go back into the office and sift through years of paper records to find the utility permit associated with the unsafe utility street cut.  Now with RFID technology, it would only take the utility inspector seconds to scan the unsafe street cut, find the RFID signal beneath the pavement, and determine the utility company from the handheld unit’s display of the preprogrammed data.  Once this happens, the appropriate utility company is contacted and given notice to fix the unsafe utility street cut in a quick and timely manner.

The Materials
The City of Dayton partnered with local systems integrator, CDO Technologies, to make this project a reality.  CDO helped develop and select the software and materials needed for this project.  These include:

  • >10,000 William Frick & Co RFID Tags
  • Alien Technology fixed reader, attached to a desktop PC running software developed by CDO to program the RFID tags
  • Motorola handheld reader with an application developed by CDO to scan the RFID tags in the field

From initial project implementation in April of 2013, Dayton has issued over 4,700 RFID tags to utility companies and contractors doing work within the city.  Through random spot checks and quality control methods monitoring RFID usage in the field, Dayton has seen nearly 100% success rate for contractors installing the RFID tags properly during the restoration process and has even noticed an increase in workmanship.

Dayton has yet to investigate a RFID contained utility street cut, but once the first cut is investigated, Dayton plans to see an instant 95 percent reduction in time.  Within the next decade, once all investigated utility street cuts contain RFID technology, Dayton hopes to save nearly $60,000/year in time from the previous investigation methods.

Since project implementation, Dayton has made it even easier to register a complaint about an unsafe utility street cut with the new mobile device app, Dayton Delivers.  Using Dayton Delivers, a citizen can easily select the appropriate issue or concern, manually input an address or utilize the device’s GPS drop pin, and submit the issue to the appropriate City of Dayton personnel.  This allows even quicker results and a more efficient operation to keep public safety the number one goal.

Dover cell tower hearing postponed

Below is an email from the Chair of the Dover ZBA this afternoon about the postponement of the continued ZBA hearing on the cell tower proposed in Dover with an entry off Evergreen Way in Medfield to June 30.

At the Dover Planning Board hearing a week or so ago on the cell tower, the Dover school officials appeared, as they had at the prior ZBA hearing, only this time they reportedly indicated that they really wanted the cell tower to be built on school property, as they had intimated at the ZBA hearing.  The ZBA had then leaned on the applicant to engage in discussions with the schools (at the ZBA hearing I attended), and the school personnel were then saying that evening that they wanted to explore locating the cell tower on school land.

The Medfield neighbors indicated to the Medfield Selectmen that their main issue was the traffic through their streets, so locating the cell tower on school lands should satisfy our Medfield neighbors.

The outstanding issue for Medfield is whether Medfield should continue to argue, as we did at the ZBA hearing, that the proposed new water tower at the former Medfield State Hospital site would be a better location, and one for which Medfield would get the revenue.






At the request of the Applicant, the Site Walk, which had been previously rescheduled from Monday May 19, 2014, at 6:00PM  to Wednesday, May 21,2014, at 6:00PM at the entrance to the property adjacent to 34* Evergreen Street in Medfield, and the adjourned Hearing which had been previously rescheduled from Monday May 19, 2014, at 6:00PM  to Wednesday, May 21,2014, at 7:00PM at the Dover Town House, ARE BEING RESCHEDULED AGAIN.


The  new Site Walk and Hearing dates, places and times are :


(a) Monday, June 30, 2014, at 6:00PM, at the entrance to the property adjacent to 24 Evergreen Street* in Medfield for the Site Walk; and


(b)Monday, June 30, 2014, at 7:00 PM, at the Dover Town House for adjourned the Hearing.



*Please also note the correction of the location for the start of the Site Walk from 34 Evergreen to 24 Evergreen.



Notice of the revised schedule will be posted at Dover Town House and on the Dover Town Webpage and at the entrance to the lower hearing room at the Dover Town House where the original hearing was opened.


Additionally, the applicant has advised that someone will be at the entrance to the property adjacent to 24* Evergreen Street in Medfield at 6:00PM on May 19,2014,  to advise interested parties of the rescheduling to Monday June 30 at 6:00PM.




Site Walk – Monday June 30, 2014, at 6:00PM, at the entrance to the property adjacent to 24 Evergreen Street in Medfield; and


Adjourned Hearing – Monday June 30, 2014, 2014, at 7:00 PM, at the Dover Town House.


Thank you all for your assistance in this situation.


Gary P. Lilienthal

Meeting reminders

Get a daily morning email with notice of town committee meetings.  Click the link to get the time, place and agenda.  Never miss another meeting (except the Building Committee, which tends to meet at 7AM before the email arrives).  This was mine from today.  Click the link at the bottom to sign up. | Add to Contacts
Today, Tuesday, Feb 11 12:10 AM | Show Details |  View source
[Meetingsdaily] (no subject)
Upcoming Meetings and Events – Feb 11, 2014
Date Description Department Type Page Type
02.11.14 Warrant Committee Meeting February 11 2014 Town Finance Meeting Meetings and Events
02.11.14 Library Trustees Meeting February 11 2014 Town Services Meeting Meetings and Events
02.11.14 Open Space and Recreation Planning Committee Meeting February 11 2014 Land and Property Meeting Meetings and Events
02.11.14 Medfield Energy Committee Meeting February 11 2014 Town Administration Meeting Meetings and Events


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