Connecting the smart communities of tomorrow through people, devices, and data
The term “Smart City” has surfaced as an overarching strategy for many communities. Not simply a buzzword of today’s future-facing communities, “Smart City” is a compelling term for new and exciting ways to use physical and digital infrastructure to connect people and places in ways that improve the health and well-being of residents while also driving business growth and economic opportunity.
How does a community or a region become smart? It combines people, connected devices, data and processes to improve operations and experiences – all of which depend on robust physical and digital infrastructure. Economic factors and consumer expectations are pushing internet providers to create accessible, high-bandwidth environments supporting and increasing the number of smart applications. As regions become smarter, they can expect benefits for their cities and citizens. Here are some examples:
School districts across the state are upgrading their speeds to 10 gigabits per second, empowering every school to support one-to-one laptop programs and WiFi in the classrooms. The need for speed is well-documented by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology as classroom learning continues to evolve rapidly from when the internet was first invented and as smart regions begin to depend on smart schools.
Use of telehealth applications is predicted to increase access to care; sometimes in patients’ very own homes. Through connected applications, individuals will be able to perform health monitoring activities – such as taking their blood pressure – and have data sent directly to their provider. These devices and technology will both provide peace of mind for the caregivers and continued independence for loved ones.
Municipalities are increasingly relying on smart applications to improve outcomes on everything from public safety and transit to sanitation use. Powerful new analytical applications can incorporate ride-share data with transit agencies, reduce traffic congestion and improve crowd control and parking at large festivals and events. Other technologies deploy sensor-based apps that detect gunfire and alert police officers to crime sites. Smart sanitation devices notify city workers when to empty the trash bins.
Businesses across the region are beginning to manage their operations remotely from smart phones, tablets or laptops. Like municipalities, proprietors are better understanding their operations through analytical features built into the smart devices. Managing the massive surge in use of smart mobile devices by customers on their premises and the corresponding increase of demand for connectivity is now possible through managed and commercial grade WiFi solutions. These options offer superfast speeds with bandwidth management options to choose different speeds for guests versus internal networks.
What is Next?
To create a smart region, all stakeholders – regions, municipalities, schools, community partners, businesses and providers – must play equally important, nearly side-by-side roles to connect the cities today to the smart communities of tomorrow.
Municipalities can look for new (or tap into already existing) avenues to work with local providers and vendors to achieve streamlined and efficient approval processes or institute trials and pilot projects
for fuller, more robust deployments of smart technologies.
Businesses should fully understand the efficiencies and importance of cloud-based and managed services, providing professional technical and security monitoring and how they contribute to the larger smart region ecosystem.
Internet providers should be making the necessary network investments to enable delivery of the technology to power the smart homes, smart businesses and smart regions of the future.
Harbin Bolton is Vice president of Cox Business Florida/Georgia. Cox Business provides voice, data, video, and managed services for more than 275,000 small and regional businesses, including health care providers, K-12 and higher education, financial institutions and federal, state and local government organizations. For more information, please visit: www.coxbusiness.com.