What is a connectivity corridor, why should we build them, and who is going to pay for it?
Before we can build smart cities, we must create a foundational layer of connectivity upon which equitable, accessible solutions may be implemented to improve the quality of life and enhance experiences for residents and guests in our cities and regions. We can't do it all at once. We have to start with digital innovation districts, or connectivity clusters that focus on strategic, standards-driven planning meshed with community collaborations and public private partnerships. We have to digitally enable our people, places, and things to create workable, livable regions.
As technology continues to outpace policy and as innovation continues to outpace implementation, the idea of a connectivity corridor becomes particularly appealing as a proving grounds for advanced and emerging tech. These districts can begin replacing and optimizing outdated and "dumb" infrastructure that disallows so many solutions from being utilized. These corridors enable testing and iteration of smart city solutions before they are scaled including those related to autonomous and driverless vehicles. And most importantly, they will help us identify and innovate to solve for many of the barriers of smart city growth facing our city, county, and state planners, including strained budgets.
Connectivity corridors are digital innovation districts that research, test, and implement advanced technology and IoT to optimize or altogether replace outdated systems and infrastructure. These connected neighborhoods will address and begin to solve for the digital divide gap for our residents and local businesses, sparking a resurgence of Main Street America's economic growth and social mobility in our urban, suburban, and rural cores. Connectivity corridors are judged not only on the level of connectivity enabled for things, but also the connectivity of people, and the ability of agencies and partners to use ingested data to improve experiences and outcomes in actuality, not just in theory. Connectivity corridors are the foundation of smart cities and smart regions.
They Are Connected
Connectivity corridors provide equitable access to WiFi or Broadband and Cellular as well as Ultra Narrow Band for the Internet of Things, ultimately connecting people, places, things, and information in real-time.
They Are Mobile
The corridors integrate technology into hard infrastructure to drive forward autonomous and advanced transportation planning. They optimize public transit solutions, walking and biking paths, and advanced and autonomous transportation solutions to more efficiently and effectively move people and goods. This smart mobility acts as an economic development driver and promotes social mobility for residents.
- Public Transporation
- First mile, last mile
They Are Secure
Connectivity corridors are safe and secure, providing tools to emergency services and mitigating new cyber security threats. Cameras and audio devices help --- mitigate threats and risks --- The solutions deployed ---standards---
- Public Safety
- Cyber physical security
They Are Sustainable
And, of course, connectivity corridors are sustainable and resilient, as solutions don't only trend toward environmental sustainability but also lean on sound financial planning. Clean water, clean air, clean budgets.
The connectivity solutions catapult social mobility and accelerate economic development drivers that revolve around the principles of smart value exchanges: creating value, cutting costs, and/or generating revenue. The opportunities are monumental for government, business, and community groups, alike. Governments are able to better support residential needs while also alleviating strained municipal budgets. Businesses are able to partner with local agencies to innovate within communities, attracting and retaining top talent and building a substantial tax base. And residents and community organizations have equitable access to resources, and ultimately the American Dream enabled by seamless connectivity, because as we improve our neighborhoods we will give residents the tools to be successful as opposed to pricing them out of their homes.
These budget and people friendly solutions enable:
- Smarter Citizens - access to transparent government data, access to internet and digital tools, community and civic engagement portal(s;)
- Smarter Streets - dynamic speed limits, connected infrastructure, trajectory based traffic signals, rapid public transit;
- Smarter Sidewalks - digital signage and way-finding, pedestrian and bike safety and thru ways, accessible waste management;
- Smarter Facilities - energy savings, accessibility, water management;
- Smarter Services - on demand public works, civic services tracker, predictive healthcare, environmental awareness;
- Smarter Communications - emergency and mission critical resilience, environmental alerts, community notifications, and more.
- Free public WiFi
- Smart Kiosks
- 4g/5g Cellular
- Ultra Narrow Band
- Smart Traffic Signals
- Smart Public Transit
- Centralized data exchange
- Smart Lighting
- Smart Waste Management
- Citizen communication and alert system
- Smart Parking
- Smart Energy
Collaboration isn't the only connectivity cluster enabler. Leaders must align around standardized technology, put in place agile planning and policy frameworks, and secure or supplement new funding sources. The action plan revolves around three steps. First, we must listen, learn, and research to understand available resources, addressable opportunity areas, and community interests. Next we must collaborate, innovate, and integrate around best-practices standards and processes. And of course, we must deploy, test, and iterate solutions that create connected, mobile, secure, and sustainable cities that are workable, livable, and equitable for all people regardless of socioeconomic or geographical barriers.
Venture Smarter works with government and business leaders as well as academic institutions to build smart cities and connected communities. Examples of good progress can be found across the country. In Greater Cincinnati open government data portals, free public WiFi, and advanced transportation research efforts are being sparked by smarter partnerships. In New York City digital districts efforts between BIDs and city leaders have launched via Venture Smarter's Regional Smart Cities Initiatives, and in Washington DC the tech enabled focus has revolved around inclusivity and equitable outcomes for all. We'd love to hear from you, Get In Touch!
Venture Smarter helps leaders research, plan, fund, and build smart cities and connected communities. (e) firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the author:
Zack Huhn is the Chairman of the IEEE Smart Cities Technology and Planning Standards Committee. He is also the founder of Venture Smarter and actively leading efforts behind Regional Smart Cities Initiatives across the country.