Smart communities are popping up around the globe, and as their numbers grow, they will alter life as we know it dramatically. In fact, connected technologies will touch nearly all aspects of the human experience. This will encompass mundane energy meters, life-saving infant mortality programs and everything in between.
So what exactly is a smart community? It is a geographic area in which government, residents and companies leverage information and communications technology (ICT) to fundamentally transform their region. By gathering new and more timely data, smart communities will solve some of the most daunting business and environmental challenges facing cities today. Data from smart devices, high-speed networks and cloud infrastructure provide the insights to improve decision-making and to enable new digital services.
Smart communities require connectivity networks that deliver ubiquitous broadband and low-band capacity that enable a growing variety of IoT applications. Sensors in smart communities collect massive volumes of data, which data analytics and artificial intelligence will play a key role in parsing. As interconnected technology applications proliferate, standards will be critical to enable information exchange among applications. Smart communities are adopting new and emerging IoT applications, supported by current broadband networks and future 5G technologies.
What Are the Opportunities?
Over the next three years, smart communities will focus on the following five priorities:
- Economic development and civic engagement
- Sustainable planning and administration
- Data-driven public safety
- Resilient energy and infrastructure
- Intelligent transportation
Economic development and civic engagement efforts include initiatives such as smart stadiums and augmented arts, culture, and tourism. A significant advantage of smart communities, both economically and socially, is that they will boost broadband and help bridge the digital divide, a major issue, with only 14% of the world's population expected to have access to broadband connectivity in 2019. In one example of civic engagement, Nashville has released a visualization map that gives citizens an in-depth look at city government activities in specific neighborhoods, displaying information from the city’s open data portal and highlighting trends over time.
Sustainable planning and administration includes digital government, sustainable land use, and community resiliency. Smart communities can use data to determine when a bridge might collapse or where potholes are located. They can prevent sewers from overflowing, mitigate stormwater runoff, and improve utilities inspections.
In terms of data-driven public safety, smart communities can deliver proactive health and social services, for example, by using data analytics to prevent lead poisoning. Sensor data can bring insight into how to prevent flash floods and which areas must be evacuated in an emergency. Data-driven police programs can link residents to police departments via IP-connected video and to on-street parking via sensors. Beyond that, analytics can help determine which crimes are likely to be committed on a specific day, how social media can pinpoint safety issues and the most effective actions for emergency responders.
Smart communities will help cities reach energy goals through smart energy and water programs, and by offering sustainable infrastructure. By optimizing energy use, smart communities can reduce their carbon footprints.
TIA will play a leadership role in developing smart community standards, helping to create global common tools and frameworks to enable smart technology adoption.
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