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Smart Cities Connect to Hold 2020 Global Event Honoring 50 Smart Projects

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Photo courtesy Smart Cities Connect

Smart Cities Connect will host an event beginning on April 6, 2020, to display smart city technology advancements within the global technology community.

As part of a competition, Smart Cities Connect chose 50 innovative projects with current or future wide-scale civic impact. Applicants represented more than a dozen countries.

An evening gala will be held in honor of the projects that won in one of the five categories: community engagement, digital transformation, smart mobility, urban infrastructure, and urban operations. Some of the awardees will speak on panels or present at the conference, which will take place in Denver, Colorado.

We. Ride, powered by Moovit is a group from Kfar Saba, Israel. It won a mobility award for its mobile application that facilitates finding the best transportation option to get to work. The app decreases traffic during commuting hours by maximizing time constraints and eliminating the frantic search for coins or a metro card.

The goal of the event is to reach across the private and public sector, as some of the projects were spearheaded by civic leaders. But public and private enterprises have to work together on smart city projects at a municipal level.

Laura Benold, managing editor of Smart Cities Connect Media & Research, said that the number of projects and phases in development has increased over last year.

“When you look at projects involving infrastructure or measured results, time is on our side” she said.

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.

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Drones

Aron Solomon: The New Horizon of Drones and Your Privacy

We have yet to wrap our minds around the impact of drones in our own lives and in society.

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The author of this Expert Opinion is Aron Solomon, head of digital strategy for Esquire Digital

While so many more of us understand what a drone is today than we did even two years ago, we have yet to wrap our collective minds around the impact of drones in our own lives and the inner workings of our society. Like everything else that’s new and odd for us to see, yet then becomes commonplace, there’s going to be a massive drone adjustment period for people and we may be in it now.

For those of you who might be living on a remote island – wait, there are even drone-flying YouTube celebrities there. Okay, for any of you who actually don’t know what a drone is and can do, a drone is also known as a UAV or unmanned aerial vehicle. While drones themselves are obviously a technology, what is important about them are the other technologies a drone can house.

A drone can have GPS, lasers and many other technologies that are controlled by a user or users on the ground through ground control systems (GSC). In short, a drone can pack whatever the latest technology is. Think of James Bond’s spy shoes, except they fly, look cooler than a pair of brogues, and can easily surveil or even kill you.

Drone usage started small and is getting big. Back in 2016, there were bold predictions that drone usage would triple by 2020. The reality has exceeded that number. A report from June shows that the commercial drone market is growing fairly rapidly with no signs it will slow down:

“The drone manufacturing industry is maturing – and so are drone customers.  As the capabilities of drones increase, they are used for more sophisticated and specific applications.”

While almost anyone could buy and fly a drone a few short years ago (obviously not very close to an airport or a takeoff or landing path) there are a lot more rules today than there ever have been:

  • New FAA rules require all drones to be registered unless they weigh less than 0.55lbs and are used recreationally. There are two types of registration in the United States, part 107 and recreational.
  • You must now mark your drone physically with the registration number.
  • For business usage of a drone, FAA suggests you keep a flight log. They can request information if there is a situation they choose to investigate.
  • It is now illegal to shoot down a drone even if it’s over your own property and you suspect it of recording you. Drones are protected by the NTSB as aircraft.

Tim George, an Erie, Pennsylvania lawyer, cautions us against believing we are still in the Wild, Wild West of drone flight:

“Anyone choosing to operate a drone needs to follow all registration and licensing requirements where they live. It’s important for every drone operator to remember that there might be municipal law they need to follow, as well as state and federal law. Being unaware of applicable drone laws will be no defense to criminal infractions or potential civil claims.”

But how well are people following the law?

Not very, as this iPhone picture I actually took while writing this story highlights. This was taken at the observatory on the top of a mountain in a large North American city, with the premise being that this athlete and his team were using a (pretty intrusive) drone to film him running down a set of stairs.

It is worth noting that I had the same permission in taking that picture as did the person in the pic and their team did in capturing my image, as the drone circled above and around me. In other words, absolutely none.

Ricky Leighton, a Maine-based certified drone pilot and video expert, cautions us that this type of poor behavior will lead to together regulation:

“There are two things to consider here. The first is that drone pilots need to closely observe any rules and legislation where they choose to operate their drone. The second is a bit more nuanced in that there has to be common courtesy as to where, when, and how we operate our drones. The less courtesy we give, the stricter the regulations will eventually be.“

And don’t think that drones are or will be limited to consumer use. While relaxing in the park and having someone send their drone to hover ten inches from your face is pretty annoying, more serious drones for enterprise use are dramatically on the rise.

A year ago, Skydio announced that they had raised an additional $100M financing round to continue what many fees is controversial work with governments and private enterprise. More simply put, some fear that this rockstar ex-MIT and GoogleX team are making mass surveillance drones and less than savory deals.

Given that one of their competitors, DJI, owns nearly 80% of the commercial drone market, multiple aggressive startups flush with cash are seeking to shake loose some of that market share as they grow their market cap.

As drones become more prevalent in our daily lives, our initial pushback against them may be dulled by their ubiquity. Like any other new technology, even one that can be pretty scary when we consider all of its dimensions, time usually gets us comfortable with things we expect would always stretch our comfort zone.

Aron Solomon is the head of digital strategy for Esquire Digital and has taught entrepreneurship at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania. Since earning his law degree, Solomon has spent the last two decades advising law firms and attorneys. He founded LegalX, the world’s first legal technology accelerator and was elected to Fastcase 50, recognizing the world’s leading legal innovators. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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Smart Cities

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

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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

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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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