Leveraging City Infrastructure for the Digital Age

Chicago, Illinois.

Chicago, Illinois.

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

LED fixtures with microphones, vibration sensors, public Wi-Fi capabilities, cameras and other sensors are the right, open common digital infrastructure to enable a nervous system for a city or enterprise.

One of the most fundamental missions for city leaders is providing infrastructure that allows citizens to live, work and play safely and efficiently.  The type of infrastructure that cities provide has continuously evolved as needs changed and opportunities arose.

In my last post, I called out the new Smart City movement and the opportunity to unleash urban innovation. Achieving this will take a new kind of urban infrastructure purpose built for the digital age.

The earliest city infrastructure included things like walls to provide protection or wells for water. New systems for energy, roads, lights and even Wi-Fi came to fruition as leaders saw trends growing and realized there was a way to deliver these things effectively for the entire community vs. letting individuals solve for them on their own.

We are at the onset of another evolution in city infrastructure. This evolution has the potential to have the greatest impact of all because it can leverage the creativity and innovation of all citizens but in a way that benefits the masses.  This is the evolution to urban digital infrastructure. Urban digital infrastructure that allows us to see, hear, feel, smell (probably not taste any time soon!) key information from across the city.

Parts of this infrastructure are at work already. Roadway cameras help with traffic flow.  Environmental sensors check air quality. Microphones triangulate gunshots. These have been useful to City Hall in delivering better service to their citizens.

Today, each one of those sensors is deployed for a very specific purpose to solve a very specific problem for a very specific user. And the problem with that is that it is both very expensive to deploy special-purpose sensors multiple times across the city. Additionally, since each is deployed for a very specific use, they haven’t been designed to empower citizens more broadly.

Urban infrastructure must be open to all. Anyone can use roads and sidewalks. Water systems and energy systems connect to any buildings through utilities. Fire departments respond to all calls. Each can be used for many purposes and therefore the costs of that infrastructure are shared broadly across everyone uses them.

Can you imagine if we did this with other city infrastructure?

The conduit for this very real potential is a technology infrastructure that is all around us every day. Something we wake up to, something that guides us throughout the day and something we really couldn’t operate without – lighting.

LED fixtures with microphones, vibration sensors, public Wi-Fi capabilities, cameras and other sensors that can be shared for many purposes and can be widely, and cost efficiently, deployed are the right, open common digital infrastructure to enable a nervous system for a city or enterprise.

For one reason, lighting is everywhere. It forms a ubiquitous network for capturing and transmitting data from city streets to high-rise offices. In the U.S. alone, there are about 327 million smartphones compared to 7 billion light fixtures! In terms of fixed physical infrastructure, no other technology platform compares to the pervasive nature of lighting and the potential to piggyback intelligent, connected solutions.

Couple this potential with growing adoption. LED usage is anticipated to expand from 28 percent today to 95 percent by 2025, unlocking tremendous value for the world to reduce energy cost and complexity in commercial enterprises.

Sensors embedded through this ubiquitous lighting network pull data, and we make it actionable through the GE Predix platform, a cloud-computing platform specifically designed for the secure collection and analysis of data from real world sensors.

Cities retain control of what kind of data and how much of it is shared with different groups of users, but once the infrastructure is in place, creating new solutions for the data can be done much more quickly. For example, one city recently asked us to analyze when pedestrians are in crosswalks to make streets safer.  We hadn’t originally set out to solve for this, but we quickly created new code that solved for this need – and we know there are countless other applications that we haven’t even thought of yet.

That’s why we are creating digital infrastructure as an open platform and actively recruiting application partners and developers who can leverage data to solve problems and innovate applications.

The opportunities before us are enormous, but if cities continue to think about technology as a way to solve one problem at a time, they will miss the opportunity. It’s time for digital infrastructure to impact cities as the open road to growth and economic prosperity.  

Interested in learning more about how cities can get smarter, today and in the future?Subscribe now for updates on Intelligent Cities.

John Gordon is the chief digital officer at Current, powered by GE.

FEATURED CASE STUDIES
Powered By The Atlas
Expanding broadband access with small cell deployment in City of Ontario
Ontario, CA, USA
Laguna Beach open 24/7/365 for business license renewals!
Laguna Beach, CA, USA
Integrating Complete and Green Streets for Climate-Resilient Sustainable Streets
San Mateo County, CA, USA

NEXT STORY: Nominations Deadline Extended for Route Fifty Navigator Awards

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.