From Gary, Indiana, to Lowell, Massachusetts, smaller post-industrial cities are taking strategic steps to regenerate. They have a chance to follow their larger rebounding counterparts like Pittsburgh and Cleveland, by building on downtowns, capitalizing on a unique sense of place, and focusing on workforce development.
Not long after I started in my current role, I was venting to a friend about a particularly difficult personnel issue and about how I felt that it was distracting me from other work. After listening to my complaints for a little while, her response was simple: “isn’t that your job?” At that moment, I was just looking for a sympathetic ear and confirmation that this was a distraction from more “important” work. But the more I thought about her question, the more I realized she was making a crucial point: dealing with these kinds of personnel and organizational issues is the job—and in many cases, the most important part of what I do.
Use cases abound for everything from installing a myriad of sensors in urban areas, to monitoring everything from traffic patterns to air quality, to the health of critical infrastructure. A key challenge of installing strain sensors on a bridge or highway overpass is sourcing the power required for them to operate. Nikola Labs technology can address this challenge by harvesting power from nearby power lines, radio and TV towers, and cell phone communication hubs. When consistent power is provided, long-lived sensors can provide the rich steams of data necessary to generate PdM insights; thereby avoiding catastrophic failures and permitting municipal departments to focus their attention on infrastructure most in need of repair.
Something interesting happens when an individual building manager starts sharing their building’s progress, and tracking their performance against others. A sense of collegiate competition begins to develop, and in-person updates make it easy to ask questions and learn from each other’s progress. This group also creates a connection between the people doing the work and public sector partners trying to help them do it – creating a mutually beneficial support system. Stakeholders are able to do things like clarify utility incentives and public reporting requirements, and our public partners can hear directly from users of their programs to troubleshoot and find opportunities to improve.
Three world-class cities in California: Los Angeles, San Francisco and Palo Alto, from January 2016 to June 2017 piloted this program on 45 blocks. Each city experienced The Cool Block program successfully addressing two massive unmet societal needs: a scalable solution to address climate change, and overcoming the social isolation people feel living in our urban-centric world. Doing the right thing for our children’s future on the planet in collaboration with neighbors proved to be a winning formula.
Envision Charlotte (EC) is a public-private-plus collaborative that leverages innovation and technology to strengthen economic competitiveness, environmental sustainability and positive community impact. We work to foster this innovation and first-of-their kind programs and ensure that our programming can be measured, scaled and replicated to improve quality of life – not only within our cities, but in other cities, as well.
As the plight of rural America continues, creating regional solutions that connect rural areas with their urban neighbors is more critical than ever. Because mid-sized metros have lower barriers to entry for new firms, more affordable cost of living, closer cultural ties to rural areas and robust (but not daunting) business and population thresholds, these cities provide the perfect testing environments for improving, creating and developing university-industry partnerships, supply chains and labor markets to connect rural and urban areas.
In the first article in this series, I argued that cities are complex, urban ecosystems that exist at multiple spatial and temporal scales and that do not permit the kinds of decomposition or systems engineering on which technology is based. Because of this, until we have a deeper understanding of what really makes the city a living entity, our progress on smart cities will be inherently superficial and of limited impact. In this article I ask: if we want to develop an understanding of how cities work, how would we go about this?
Smart city propositions are moving from a hardware- and solution-driven market, to a software- and data platform-driven one, from an asset centric approach to a service centric one. Slowly but surely, community digitalization efforts are changing from having a simple transaction (say, between a municipality and a service provider) at the heart, to the smart city becoming a market place: the City as a Service is on the rise. The latter allows for the principle of ‘consumption economics’ to be introduced, with different societal stakeholders (including government and citizens) to consume ‘digital’ only as much as they need.
Enter the city of Cleveland, Fairfax Renaissance Development Corp., Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority and PNC Bank. Together, we have mapped a plan to revitalize the Fairfax neighborhood.
The most glaring flaw in the design of the current ISP model is that it directly contradicts the design and implementation of the internet. The internet is a platform that is open to innovation and competition, and thereby moves control to the customer. Our onramp to the internet, the ISP, is a closed platform that takes control from the customer.
The internet moves power to the consumer and provides a wealth of choices. ISPs control power by controlling infrastructure and, therefore, they constrict choice.