The City of Schenectady, New York has long been on the forefront of the Smart Cities movement, utilizing new technology to help improve its municipal services and government operations. The city’s goal is to become a fully integrated, connected city by implementing a wireless network that takes advantage of the Internet of Everything (IoE), the networked connection of people, process, data, and things.
To work towards this goal, the city has rolled out numerous IoE-based projects designed to improve city life in a variety of areas based on an outdoor City-owned Wi-Fi network that can perform multiple simultaneous tasks. For example, the city has installed a smart LED lighting system in the downtown area, which will allow them to automatically brighten or dim the lights to help save on energy costs. The smart lighting system will automatically report on broken lights so they can be fixed faster, ensuring citizens feel safe downtown. The city is also testing out a smart parking system, which uses cameras to monitor open parking spots. The same cameras can help police fight crime and give citizens a live view of their streets to feel safer at night. These projects have allowed Schenectady to both save taxpayer money and increase the quality of services it is providing to its citizens, and the city continues to look to the future using technology to attract new business and startups.
This past week, Mayor Gary R. McCarthy announced the appointment of a Smart City commission, designed to help Schenectady further take advantage of new technology to improve the quality of life for its residents. The commission will work on a variety of technology and sustainability initiatives, focusing on the next generation of wireless communications and product development. This new commission will allow Schenectady to continue to grow and expand as a connected city, and will only bring more benefits to its citizens. As the new commission chairman Mark Little put it: “It’s all about making Schenectady the best place it can be to live and to work.”
We are embarking on a new technological journey that will fundamentally change forever the economy, society and the way that we live. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a world where up to 50 billion things (or devices) will be connected to the Internet by 2020; or, the equivalent of 6 devices for every person on the planet.
The clear winners in this revolution will be those companies that, not only embrace the Internet of Things, but use it to transform their businesses. Those winning companies will be the ones that integrate IoT into their operations, products and customer interactions to create new business models and sources of value. In fact, McKinsey estimates that there could be as much as $11 trillion per year by 2025 in new economic value created by adopting IoT.
As world populations migrate to urban areas, cities are often faced with new challenges, such as overcrowding, traffic congestion, pollution, resource constraints, and inadequate infrastructure, amid the desire for continuing economic growth.
We will be using IoT innovations and bringing the smart cities framework to several spotlight cities across the United States. Communities and local universities will work together to build smart city environments. The spotlight cities and universities include Atlanta, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Chicago, and Dallas. We will also utilize elements of the Cisco Smart+Connected Communities portfolio to help city leaders better apply intelligent networking capabilities.
AT&T and its alliance members already help communities solve problems with solutions that connect utility meters, street lights and water systems. The new framework adds several new categories:
Infrastructure – Cities are able to remotely monitor the conditions of roads, bridges, buildings, parks and other venues. Maintenance crews can identify slick roadways during freezing weather or detect bridges that may need repairs.
Citizen Engagement – Mobile apps give people information to stay better prepared. For example, you can be notified in real time if a traffic light isn’t working on your route. You can also remotely view parking meters and reserve spaces ahead of time.
Transportation – Digital signage lets commuters know in near real time when the next bus or train will arrive. People can rent electric bikes at stations across the city to reduce traffic.
Public Safety – Cities can better manage traffic patterns of pedestrians at stadiums, parks, and busy intersections. Gun fire detection technology helps law enforcement know where a shooting occurred. It also helps them determine the number of people involved and rounds fired.
AT&T is also developing a new digital dashboard that gives cities a high-level look at their communities’ conditions. The Smart City Network Operation Center (SC-NOC) offers cities a dashboard view of how assets are performing in near-real time. City officials can keep tabs on power outages, water leaks, traffic issues, and more – all from one location.
Such bold thinking for such worthy goals make this initiative all the more impressive. We salute AT&T for taking on such challenges that can benefit society and we thank them for choosing Cisco to be among their leading team members to help make these goals a reality.
We are now in an age so normalized by the proliferation of technology that the United Nations has declared access to the Internet a basic human right and securing ubiquitous access to high-speed broadband is a common goal around the world. Communities and countries are actively engaged in learning how to best capture the unparalleled advantages that can be realized across the urban landscape. As smart digital communities cover more and more of the global map, the social, economic, political, and environmental benefits afforded to broadly-connected digital societies are becoming crystal clear.
Technology has and will continue to dramatically change the world. It already affects all of our lives in myriad ways. Digital transformation or digitization—the connection of objects, devices, sensors, cameras, machines, and people to the Internet—has now emerged as the most transformative means to ignite sustainable growth and improve society. Those countries and communities that get ahead and embrace digital innovation will uncover limitless possibilities to drive change, embrace economic growth, attract talent for jobs of the future, reduce their carbon footprint, and keep citizens happy and healthy.
Around the World in 106 (Business) Days
Since July, we’ve met you here each Wednesday to discuss and explore important themes, challenges, and observations of digital transformation. We’ve visited cities, countries, schools, hospitals, and businesses around the world that all share one common thread in their story—the quest toward digitization. Taken together, this series demonstrate the significance of digital technology innovation in shaping our future.
As cities and countries around the globe are facing an onslaught of new and confusing challenges such as urban sprawl, safety and security, traffic congestion, and transportation accessibility, it is increasingly becoming important for public sector leaders to provide smart solutions. And as leaders further embrace the smart city narrative, the main question remains as to how these digital technology solutions will help their citizens and communities.
Motivations for adopting smart city initiatives vary, but one primary reason that has emerged is the desire to enhance ‘livability’. Livability plays an important role in how cities compete with other cities for tax dollars, jobs, residents, employers, investment, and positive perceptions. Improving livability can be seen both as a strategic asset that contributes to growth, and as a key ingredient to happier, healthier citizens. And when push comes to shove, technology is an enabler, not the end game. Putting people in the forefront is key.
Smart City Walking Tour
Throughout this series, we’ve taken you through a whirlwind of important industry trends, smart technologies, and places of digital transformation. At the Internet of Things World Forum that took place in Dubai this week, many of our spotlighted topics converged and took center stage to demonstrate the cross-vertical impact of IoT. In this week’s post, our digital citizen is participating in our IoT World Forum Smart City Experience tour.