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The Internet of Things: Smart U.S. Cities
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The Internet of Things: Smart U.S. Cities - Executive Leadership Articles

The Internet of Things: Smart U.S. Cities

Executive Leadership Articles

The Internet of Things: Smart U.S. Cities

Smart homes are getting smarter, not to mention more accessible, and we can see the evidence with a quick trip to the local big-box department store. Smart cities, those larger-scale implementations of smart technology, meanwhile seem to be stalled in concept with little proof of progress in reality. This is partly because it’s difficult to know what’s going on in other cities, and it’s partly because of issues related to implementation--political, economic, and technological.

It may also be because of definition: what makes a smart city a smart city? Many cities have electric vehicle charging stations, some by legislative mandate, and many through private-public partnerships, but do charging stations alone signal the development of smart cities? What about bike-sharing programs or traffic cameras viewable online? Each of these qualities indicates some civic awareness of smart technologies, but perhaps without the central, vision-driven smart cities concept in mind.

Watching cities grow in their use of smart technology is kind of fun. Some have dedicated resources toward a vision of connectivity in the true smart city concept, while others are moving toward smartness piece-by-piece: a GPS-mobile-app-connected bus system here and a central, satellite-connected traffic website there. In case you’ve missed some of the more focused developments, here are a few examples you may want to keep an eye on.

San Leandro, California
San Leandro recognized early (as early as five or six years ago) the need for high-speed internet infrastructure, creating a public-private partnership called Lit San Leandro, a 20-mile loop of gigabit internet fiber service to local businesses. Data transfer of up to 10 gigabits per second offer practically limitless capacities for companies and municipal entities to grow into. The Lit San Leandro website makes it clear that the primary motivation is economic development, while the city’s website offers itself as an “ideal location for both established tech businesses and startups to be more productive and successful.” Among the city’s early developments are connected IoT sensors that distribute electricity from various sources where it is most needed for its most efficient use. At the recent Global Cities Teams Challenge Expo in Washington D.C., San Leandro officials presented information about the city’s Utilities Supercluster and Public Wi-Fi Supercluster, two task forces focused on laying the support structure for future development. These may not be the most glamorous examples of smart cities in action, but they reveal a forward-thinking infrastructure-first approach that may result in an explosion of citizen- and business-driven usage.

Columbus, Ohio
Columbus leaps into smart city development with a U.S. Department of Transportation partnership and 15 transportation-related projects, including technology designed to help mobility-challenged citizens get around, parking management for special events, connected autonomous vehicles for “first and last mile” transport to popular destinations (such as from home to a bus terminal, then from a bus terminal to a business center or shopping mall), and multimodal trip planning.

San Jose, California
San Jose is installing internet-connected sensors to the tops of street lights, collecting data about traffic and other movements on the street. The city imagines it will be able to control lighting to meet demand (and to turn off in the absence of demand), make decisions about traffic flow, keep on top of traffic developments, and possibly detect and respond to gun shots. As with most connected smart technologies, there are questions about privacy and security, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation has already responded with a letter to the city urging the local government to establish laws ensuring democratic control of surveillance technology decisions.

Belmont, Arizona
The city of Belmont doesn’t even exist yet, but a partnership between Bill Gates and local real estate investors aims to develop a smart city literally from the ground up. The project, encompassing nearly 25,000 acres, is planned for 80,000 residential units plus 3800 acres each of commercial and industrial use. About 45 minutes out of Phoenix, at full development it will be about the size of Tempe, and will support autonomous vehicles, high-speed digital networks, and data centers into the city. With smart connectivity in mind, by the time the city is ready for residents, who knows what new technologies will emerge, or how its citizens, who would obviously be aware of the city’s intentions before relocating there, will push the edges of use. A willing citizenry, an established vision and infrastructure, and the financing of one of the world’s tech pioneers seems like an ideal petri-dish for this new way of living.

Reference links:
Lit San Leandro: https://litsanleandro.com/
San Leandro Next: http://sanleandronext.com/
Smart Columbus: https://www.columbus.gov/smartcolumbus/projects/
San Jose Mercury News: http://www.mercurynews.com/2015/06/03/san-jose-tests-internet-of-things-startup-to-become-a-smarter-city/
Electronic Frontier Foundation: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/02/smart-cities-surveillance-and-new-streetlights-san-jose
Fortune: http://fortune.com/2017/11/13/bill-gates-arizona-smart-city-cascade-belmont/


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The Internet of Things: Smart U.S. Cities - Executive Leadership Articles

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