- Veröffentlicht: 16. September 2020
Planners, developers, and investors talk about “smart cities.” But what does that mean to a region like Jacksonville and North Florida. What benefits will residents and business owners realize as the area becomes more digitally “connected?”
In a Jacksonville Business Journal panel discussion, hosted by Comcast Business, area developers and planners explore the smart city taking shape across the region – and what it means to the people who live, work, and play here.
Moderated by architect and University of Florida professor Michael Montoya, the panel included Doug Guthrie, senior vice president of finance for Comcast Smart Cities/Rural Broadband; Jeff Sheffield, executive director of the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization; Michael Feldman autonomous vehicle manager for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority; Paul Bertozzi, president and CEO of Live Oak Contracting; Carlton Robinson, vice president of entrepreneurial growth with JAXUSA; Andy Bowman, vice president of integrated solutions with Miller Electric; Thad Crowe, senior planner with Nassau County Planning & Economic Opportunity; George Leone, COO of Corner Lot Development; and Ryan Hoover, president of The Vestcor Companies.
Q: Give us some examples of how being smart benefits businesses and people?
Bowman: Smart cities aren't born overnight, and they don't happen all at once. It's a gradual implementation of technologies that build on each other until their ROI is realized by the people implementing the technology and the people in the community. An easy one for people to relate with is the municipal-owned utilities that developed smart metering programs over the last decade. They started with RFID sensors where people could read the meter from the street and cover more ground more quickly.
Now they don't even have to drive the neighborhood. That's how they read your water meter, your electric meter, your natural gas meter. The utilities become more efficient and the benefit to the homeowners and the residents was more efficient billing, fewer billing errors and disputes. They don’t even agitate your dogs.
Sheffield: Being a transportation planning agency, what we’re doing with the larger Smart North Florida Initiative is pushing the limits further. We are exploring the notion of allowing smart lighting to contribute to improving the numbers on a pedestrian fatality rate in Jacksonville that ranks top five in the country. Sensors could be placed to detect the movement of a pedestrian and brighten the lights in the moment to allow for more visibility during that crossing.
We are deploying rail crossing notifications that would provide estimated time of crossing of that rail to our first responders. So based on the condition of the patient in an ambulance, they could divert to another hospital. The smart parking system in St. Augustine could ultimately scale out to be a regional app-based parking system so that our residents don't have to have six different apps to park in six different areas of our region.
Q: What’s needed to bring a smart city to life?
Feldman: In order to kind of bring this smart city ideology to fruition, there’s three major elements. How do we leverage different types of technology to create an ecosystem that allows for safety and efficiency? How do we manage, store and share different data that will help us address complex problems that aren't visible at face value? And then, how do we involve key stakeholders and people in the community? How do we support and reenergize local businesses and people as kind of a byproduct of this ideology?
Hoover: We have about 260 apartments directly located on the Jefferson Station of the Skyway (the monorail system in downtown Jacksonville). And also now with the (Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center) coming online a block and a half away from that. This gives residents the ability to live very close to their work – for residents of every income spectrum. We have a lot of people that work downtown in the service industry who would commute from pretty far away. So this just increases their quality of life. And it's also good for the employers who won’t have to deal with some of the issues that come with those long commutes.
Robinson: From an economic development agency perspective … when we hear smart city, the primary thing for us is it's a connected community. That's the benefit of a smart city: smart infrastructure to reinforce human connections.
Q: What new technologies do you see emerging that are making the creation of smart cities, easier, safer, and more cost-effective for all three?
Guthrie: We work with a lot of multi-family, military bases, campuses, and we're seeing demand for smart locks, which are touch free. Thermostats that can save $180 a year per unit. Leak detection that can save anywhere from $70,000 to $100,000 if you had a major water leak. We're doing a multi-tenant gateway (a cloud infrastructure that supports multiple tenants while also keeping them separate) for a large commercial building, so that if you want to do asset tracking for air quality measures or energy management, all those things can be built right into the original design.
Leone: As far as smart homes, you're seeing Alexa certified homes, where everything is interconnected. When you arrive home, you walk in your lights are on, your alarm systems off, the music that you like to listen to playing automatically. We used to spend $20,000 or $30,000 to have a model home automated. Now it's almost standard in every home, no matter what price point you're at.
Bertozzi: Those same technologies are coming into multifamily housing communities. It's not just in your unit. You can sit by the pool or the dog park and the whole campus and the community has that wifi technology. I think that's where we'll see a lot of advancement over the next few years as well, with the growth of people working from home and changing due to Covid-19.
Q: This idea of smart cities has been around for a while. What are the latest technology advances that help cities become smarter cities?
Sheffield: Smart cities is a much broader effort that really leverages new technology and innovation, but at its core takes the data behind all of these types of information and allows the data to tell stories, applying the data science, creating the metrics, and then inherently making whatever sector we work in more efficient because of the ability to collect the information and allow it to contribute to the solutions.
The third part to that goes back to the human element, the collaboration part. The universal conversation today is data analytics and predictive analytics. And the reality of that conversation means all sectors now can talk the same language. The North Florida Data Exchange, the cloud-based open data exchange, is encouraging sectors and partnering agencies to share it freely. Then on top of all of that, grow the economy.
Robinson: Here at JaxUSA and the chamber, we take leadership and downtown trips to evaluate what other communities are doing. They introduced me to what they call “social infrastructure.” Most of the time we're taking a look at infrastructure, but really what we should be evaluating is the social infrastructure.
So what type of infrastructure do we have as a region that we can promote as interoperability? To make the transition to that, we have to evolve from a lot of the legacy systems. The reason that entrepreneurs are able to move more nimbly is because they're leveraging APIs and building technology that is able to work with legacy systems and new systems. Those are the tools that we'll need.
Feldman: From the autonomous vehicle space, in the next one to three years, we should expect that the use and implementation of this type of innovative technology to really play a larger role. It is an enabler, it's a force multiplier. This smart city kind of ideology is really rooted in an inherently innovative ecosystem. It will be an enabler that will help Northeast Florida in a strategic sense to kind of reset and reshape the way the public views public transportation.
Q: Since the coronavirus sent millions of people home to work, there have been concerns about the network keeping pace. Will employees working from home and other tech bandwidth consumers in the suburbs lag behind their urban business, central core peers?
Leone: When we're designing a new community, it's almost second nature. Technology and how people live is integrated in every step. Everything is so connected and integrated that if you don't have those technologies available to your grid, you are left behind. As people we adapt and we are seeing some of those adaptations come into light through technologies. The technology is there, it’s just how we implement it and get people plugged in.
Quelle/Source: Jacksonville Business Journal, 09.09.2020