As the chase for Amazon’s second headquarter location revealed, cities and regions are increasingly expected to have connected and integrated infrastructure to handle modern corporations’ and citizens’ demands.
Businesses and municipalities are increasingly becoming “smarter” to compete for customers and residents, respectively.
As cities and economic regions continue to formulate “smart” application uses, both physical and digital infrastructure are essential. Ubiquitous and robust connectivity is no longer a privilege. It’s a necessity for business growth and economic development initiatives. As a result, the term “smart city” has begun to surface as an ideal strategy for many communities.
How does a community or region become smart? It combines people, connected devices, data and processes to improve regional operations and the overall citizen experience. Combined, economic factors and livability expectations are pushing internet providers to create accessible, high-bandwidth environments that support smart applications. As regions become smarter, they can expect benefits for their cities and citizens. The following are some examples.
With smart utility infrastructure, digital platforms can help drive efficient use of water and other resources. For example, utilities can closely monitor water flow and electricity use in real time and, as a result, recognize inefficiencies.
Healthcare availability is predicted to increase with more prevalent use of telehealth. Through connected applications, individuals can perform health monitoring activities — such as taking their blood pressure – and have that data sent directly to their healthcare provider.
Applications that will improve public services include incorporating ride-share data with transit agencies to improve traffic congestion and public parking; deploying sensor-based apps that detect gunfire and alert police officers; and placing sensors on sanitation bins or trash compactors.
Small businesses utilize smart technology to educate customers and employees. For example, businesses tap into augmented reality applications to assist with employee training and development, as well as customer education.
What’s Next? To create a smart region, all stakeholders must play equally important roles. Municipalities can look for new ways to work with local providers and vendors to achieve a streamlined and efficient approval process to institute trials, pilot projects or full deployments.
Businesses should fully understand the efficiencies and importance of cloud-based and managed services, professional technical service 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 technology to power smart homes, smart businesses and smart regions of the future.
Editor’s note: Mat Mozzoni is the director of Cox Business Arkansas, the commercial division of Cox Communications. The opinions expressed are those of the author.