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UTOPIA Fiber CEO says at Utah Ignite Event that Rewards of Smart Cities Outweigh Risks

Elijah Labby

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Photo of CEO Roger Timmerman courtesy UTOPIA Fiber

June 17, 2020 — The smart cities of the future have the potential to be extraordinarily efficient and to minimize the danger of natural disasters, said UTOPIA Fiber CEO Roger Timmerman in a Tuesday webinar sponsored by Utah Ignite.

The coronavirus pandemic has made social media and other technologies indispensable, and Timmerman said smart cities offer a unique opportunity to continue technologizing modern life.

Smart cities would enable businesses and other organizations to have surveillance cameras wherever they wished, he said. The cameras would rely on high-quality infrastructure, and subsequently, high-speed internet.

“The more connectivity they benefit from, the better the cameras,” he said.

Speaking at an event of Utah Ignite, a “smart city” group affiliated with the national non-profit organization U.S. Ignite, Timmerman also said that smart cities could assist with the efficient allocation of resources amid turbulent natural circumstances.

“This is a really urgent thing in Utah because we are low on water,” he said. “…So the better we can manage that resource, the better for our conservation of water.”

The employment of smart meters can help to measure resource usage in the cities, and are ideal for sustainable use, Timmerman said.

“They don’t use much bandwidth — they’re pretty insensitive to delay and jitter and things like that,” he said.

The meters could utilize artificial intelligence to monitor for suspicious usage levels, Timmerman added.

“I don’t know how many of you had that happen to you, but… the ability to put these systems in water is one that’s very common for cities.”

Smart cars could offer new possibilities for autonomy and other advancements, Timmerman said,  allowing smart cities to get creative with new applications.

“Now they want to have as much of [the new technology] as possible so that you want to buy the car, but at the same time those types of connectivity are available. They want to leverage those,” he said.

Other technologies like LED smart lights and smart facilities that sense when people are using them can all help to make the lives of the smart cities’ residents easier, Timmerman said.

However, he admitted that smart cities and the surveillance systems they employ often raise important questions about privacy.

“They use technology almost like what Amazon has — their little stores where you go and pick up stuff and walk out, and it knows what you did,” he said. “[It’s] really cool when it’s Amazon, it’s not so cool when it’s the government.”

The technologies carry both risks and rewards, but Timmerman claimed that the rewards outweigh the risks as well as predicting that UTOPIA Fiber will play a crucial role in their rollout.

UTOPIA stands for the Utah Open Infrastructure Agency, and providers Gigabit-level symmetrical broadband services through its fiber network. It is the largest open access network in operation in the United States.

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