Driverless cars as life savers, pigeons as pedestrians, lip readers as crime stoppers, and alcoholics as city employees. These are just a few of the urban reads on our radar this week.

  • "Every year we delay this, more people die": On Google's driverless car [New Yorker]
  • The city of Santa Monica is developing a "well-being index" kinda like Bhutan's study of Gross National Happiness [Santa Monica Mirror]
  • New York is a city of old forts and stockades—but does the area around the World Trade Center site really need to be so militarized? [Manhattan Past]
  • 3.15 percent of the world's population live outside the country where they were born; here's where they moved [People Movin]
  • 20 deaf police officers named "Angels of Silence" solve crimes in Oaxaca by reading lips on footage captured by surveillance cameras [Gizmodo]
  • A new study shows that random violence is hardly ever random: If you have a social connection to someone killed in a homicide, you're more likely to be at risk [Next City]
  • "I see them as pedestrians: literally walking on the sidewalk and sitting on benches with us... They use public space just like people do, and they affect how we interact in public space": An urban sociologist discusses pigeons [Urban Omnibus—the same sociologist led a "pigeon-related landmark tour" of New York City a few weeks ago]
  • The way we work and how we get there means we no longer have central business districts. Welcome to the age of polycentric cities [Scientific American]
  • Just so you know: New York City's most toxic sites and how to avoid them [Co.Exist]
  • Amsterdam taps alcoholics to clean the city… and pays them in beer [UBM's Future Cities]


Opening image courtesy of Dan Marker-Moore—who you should be following on Instagram. Got an Instagram of your own you'd like us to use in our next link round-up? Tag it #gizmodocities and we'll be in touch if we want to post.