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Smart Cities

Panelists at CES 2020 Consider Crucial Role of Public Safety in Smart City Infrastructure

Adrienne Patton



Screenshot of panelists with moderator at CES 2020 event on smart city infrastructure

Smart cities will thrive with better communications capabilities for infrastructure, and for public safety, according to panelists speaking at a CES 2020 session Thursday on the deployment of Internet of Things devices.

Indeed, public safety needs to be a significant priority for smart city innovation, said participates on the panel at the trade show hosted by the Consumer Technology Association in Las Vegas

FirstNet Senior Director Jennifer Harder said public safety improvements are a major aspect of smart cities. Smarter infrastructure can improve response times, save lives, and lower crime rates, she said, stressing the importance of technology that responds to the needs of first responders.

Further, implementing technology that detects various health issues for first responders is crucial. Harder said there are ways to use basic, wearable technology to care for first responders.

Regarding privacy concerns, Harder said that body cameras on policy officers have been found to be beneficial. She proposed finding a logical and safe lines that do not infringe upon medical or other privacy.

Mike Zeto, vice president at AT&T, echoed Harder’s focus on public safety. He commended FirstNet – the First Responder Network Authority that is a quasi-public entity within the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration – as a positive example of collaboration between the public and private sectors.

Panelist Edward Knapp, chief technology officer of American Tower Corporation, highlighted examples of functioning public and private partnerships in Paris keyed to the Summer Olympics four years from now, in 2024.

As Paris improves user experience in their urban environment before the Olympics, private sectors are experimenting with the infrastructure, while in communication with the public. LED lighting, public Wi-Fi, 5G, and bridging digital divides are important elements that go into the creation of a “smart city.”

Knapp said Paris intersections are appropriate places to put sensors and cellular infrastructure.

Adrienne Patton was a Reporter for Broadband Breakfast. She studied English rhetoric and writing at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She grew up in a household of journalists in South Florida. Her father, the late Robes Patton, was a sports writer for the Sun-Sentinel who covered the Miami Heat, and is for whom the press lounge in the American Airlines Arena is named.

Smart Cities

Utah Ignite Leverages Partnership with Smart Cities Fabrication Lab for Broadband Growth

Derek Shumway



Screenshot from the Utah Ignite meeting

February 14, 2021 – Orem, Utah, enjoyed a better-than-expected economic year in 2020, partly thanks to technology-focused resources offered in the city, including the Smart Cities and Fabrication Lab at Utah Valley University, a new resource within the university’s business resource center.

The fabrication lab’s mission is to bring in startups and new technology ideas that can test and deploy new software and hardware products for smart cities, said Peter Jay, director of economic development at the Business Resource Center at UVU, speaking at a Thursday meeting of Utah Ignite.

Smart cities, he said, are those with “technological networks, internet of things, and data analysis to increase efficiency in our systems and improve our everyday lives–but on a larger scale.”

The UVU initiative is aimed at improving community transportation and utility operations, and the lab has partnered with Utah Open Source, a network boasting over 15,000 software engineers, to run the lab.

Giving the local community a lab to try out new technologies and refine them as they grow is the goal, said Jay. There was a gap between tech companies and cities in Utah, and the lab bridges the gap.

Jay also highlighted the work of Utah Ignite, a local chapter of the national non-profit group, U.S. Ignite, which is designed to promote the adoption and high of high-speed broadband applications and capabilities.

The monthly discussion also highlighted potential Utah state legislation – H.B. 218, called the “Regulatory Sandbox Program” for Utah businesses – that would allow startup companies to create new products without having to abide by certain regulations.

However, according to Utah State Rep. Cory Maloy, “anything related to public safety, consumer safety, those kinds of regulations are not waived.”

There are approx. 18 companies incubating right now at the lab, and UVU President Astrid Tuminez expressed support for it.  Jay said the lab center is even going to host an extension office to the state’s World Trade Center office.

The lab itself will be equipped with 10 gigabit per second (Gbps) broadband connections provided by UTOPIA Fiber. It powers the servers handling artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and high-end graphic simulations.

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Advanced Energy

Last-Mile Delivery and Electric Vehicles: Why Congress Should Support Logistics in the Next Infrastructure Bill

Derek Shumway



February 3, 2021 – The problem with electric vehicles has always been that they don’t have enough battery to achieve a decent driving range at a reasonable cost, a group of experts said on a panel discussion on January 26 led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

That’s why electric cars have been eyed as a solution for improving deliveries by drivers, yet guaranteeing battery efficiency is still in the future.

Additional alternative energy vehicle options such as fuel cell-powered may serve as a complement to electric vehicles, said Amy Adams, vice president over fuel cell and hydrogen technologies at Cummins Inc. Fuel cell-powered cars may be better equipped for larger vehicles that need to travel longer distances, especially in rural areas, she said.

Despite the potential electric or fuel cell-powered cars bring, they do have drawbacks. For example, a delivery driver who drives an average of 65 miles per day makes up to 200 stops or more per day. That’s equal to 1,000 foot motions on the brakes, and that can deteriorate knee health and decrease efficiency.

Electric vehicles for delivery drivers should incorporate regenerative braking systems to capture all that lost energy for each stop made, said John Lindsey, head of electric vehicle sales for Schneider Electric North America.

But electric and fuel cell-powered cars haven’t been readily integrated into the U.S. economy compared to other countries like in Europe. That’s why delivery companies need to balance neighborhood safety with delivery driver safety, said Duane Hughes, CEO of Workhouse Group. Hughes called for the integration of lane departure and lane collision warning systems for delivery drivers to protect both themselves and others around them.

To combat additional costs from incorporating these ideas, the experts supported a standardized, universal-like nozzle fill-up system for electric and fuel cell-powered cars to reduce customization costs. Reducing the overall core weight of vehicles would also improve battery efficiency.

And incentives and grant programs are needed from the federal government to jumpstart more research and development to achieve this, said Thomas Jensen, a senior government relations executive at UPS.

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Smart Cities

Cities of the Future: Tech Companies Explore Challenges and Solutions at a CES 2021 Panel

Tim White



Screenshot from the CES 2021 event on smart cities

January 18, 2021 – Collaboration and vision are necessary to build smart cities with integrated technology and innovation, industry leaders said at a panel at CES 2021 on Wednesday.

As cities grow and become more connected, partnerships between the public and private sectors will become more necessary, said Ashok Tipirneni, director of product management and head of platforms for smart cities at Qualcomm.

Such partnerships require dialogue and vision. Moreover, everyone involved needs to buy into that vision, added Lauren Love-Wright, vice president of network partnerships at Verizon.

Derek Peterson, chief technology officer at Boingo, said that his company developed such partnership with Google, Amazon and other businesses in Kanso Twinbrook, a community development project in Rockville, Maryland.

“One of the things we’re all getting used to is the digitization of all our experiences,” Peterson said. As more people move to urban centers, those cities face new challenges, such as traffic, energy and manufacturing, all of which require more “smart” technological connectivity to solve, he explained.

Solving those types of infrastructure problems will be different in difference cities because their populations and ages are different, said Love-Wright. For example, Verizon implemented a wireless network in Oklahoma City to assist with traffic issues. It worked well because of the town’s size, she added, but other cities may need different approaches.

Qualcomm’s Tipirneni highlighted three key aspects to smart cities: First, citizens want to get everything they need wherever they live; second, cities want to safe and smart services to all residents; and third, businesses and city departments must work together easily.

Just as everyone today uses and relies upon the convenience of a cell phone and new technologies that come from it, consumers want that same innovation in their cities.

Technology is core to the smart city concept, but policy is also a key aspect, said Love-Wright. That means that affordability is as important as accessibility to technology, she explained.

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