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August 22, 2019

How the Mile-High City is Embracing Smart City Solutions .

How the Mile-High City is Embracing Smart City Solutions

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This July, CTIA’s Smart Cities Business and Technology Working Group convened in Denver, Colorado, to discuss smart city technologies and explore deployments throughout the city.

The Smart Cities Business & Technology Working Group is devoted to developing tools and resources that will increase efficiencies, promote collaboration and drive economic growth for municipalities across the country.

The two-day meeting brought together experts from across the industry to discuss and discover smart city applications that touched on three key themes:

Edge-Computing Will Improve the Effectiveness of Smart City Technologies

Our meeting kicked off in Centennial, CO, at the industry’s first edge computing test lab―a partnership between edge computing startup EdgeMicro and Flexential, a leading provider of hybrid IT data center solutions.

EdgeMicro VP Eric Bozich shared that, today, the internet is primarily cloud-based and follows a centralized structure that enables devices to send and receive data from these clouds. To increase efficiencies, engineers have evolved that structure by distributing the power of the cloud to remote data centers closer to the site of the request—called edge computing.

EdgeMicro and Flexential’s edge computing pilot is the first test lab to link a far-edge data center to a near-edge data center in order to decreases processing time, or latency. Reducing response times will have a big impact on the effectiveness of data-heavy smart city technologies. For instance, a smart energy grid for a major metropolitan area could be a lot more efficient if its system of sensors could process and react to data more quickly.

Contained within a repurposed shipping container, the micro computing facilities are easy to transport and economical to deploy almost anywhere. EdgeMicro expects deployment of the first 15 micro data centers throughout the country by end of year, with deployments reaching 10 per month by the first quarter of 2020.

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Inside the edge computing facility with Loren Zweig, VP of operations at EdgeMicro.

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Outside view of the edge computing facility container.

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Tour of data processing center with Greg Pettine, Founder and EVP, Business Development at EdgeMicro.

Streamlined Small Cell Processes Reduce Barriers to Smart City Connectivity

5G networks will be fundamental to smart city technology, powering solutions that require real-time decision making such as emergency response, connected vehicle communications and remote health services. To enable 5G’s capabilities, the wireless industry is densifying networks by deploying small cells across the country.

In Denver, we visited engineering and construction company Black & Veatch, who is collaborating with Arrow Civil—a general contracting firm—and cell site pole manufacturer Comptek to replace traditional light poles with 5G-capable smart utility poles and advance the deployment of next-generation wireless networks. Deployment experts explained how they’ve perfected the process of installing the poles and highlighted how Colorado’s streamlined permitting process for small cell infrastructure has enhanced their ability to quickly deploy the poles and get small cells online.

Small cell, DAS pole with Mike Hoganson of Comptek.
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Small cell, DAS pole with Mike Hoganson of Comptek.

Smart City Solutions Are in Action Across Colorado

George Karayannis welcomed us to the Panasonic Smart City Innovation Showcase at Peña Station. The showcase, which spans an entire city block, demonstrates a wide range of immersive smart city solutions. Looking out from the Panasonic rooftop, a canopy of solar panels covers a city-owned parking lot as part of the onsite $10M microgrid. The microgrid generates enough power to make the entire Panasonic facility carbon-neutral and demonstrates how solar energy can be integrated, providing  a dynamic, flexible form of power.

Next, we saw one of the most impressive parts of the Showcase, Panasonic’s Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) Operations Center. The center processes data for one of the largest Connected Vehicle (CV) projects in North America, spanning 90 miles of live V2X technology between Golden, CO and Vail, CO.  George explained that the data is transmitted ten times per second, providing details from the CV to the data center. With this data, operators can make informed traffic and safety decisions.

Circling the Panasonic and Peña Station parking lots, an autonomous shuttle is making history daily. In January, the Denver Regional Transportation District launched the first on-road deployment of an autonomous vehicle shuttle in the state of Colorado in partnership with French fleet management company, EasyMile. The shuttle is 100 percent electric and navigates a one-mile loop every fifteen minutes, stopping at four designated locations. Data collected from the shuttle is shared with project partners NHTSA and the Colorado Autonomous Vehicle Task Force to improve future autonomous vehicle deployments and applications.

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Our group hitched a ride on the shuttle and experienced the science and learning logic of autonomous vehicles (AV) firsthand.

We also heard from the City of Denver about the implementation of smart city technologies—like smart weather stations, electric charging stations, air quality sensors, and connected transportation solutions—that will improve public health, benefit the environment, and ease transportation concerns.

Jim Lindauer, Lead IoT Architect of the Denver Smart Cities Team, shared that the city is focused on four portfolios—Healthy People & Places, Connected Mobility, IoT Platform & Data Management, and Innovative People & Partnerships—to address the pain points of their residents. Their efforts are moving Denver to the forefront of smart cities across the country and creating a safer, healthier, cleaner city for all.

For more information about our CTIA Smart Cities Business & Technology Working Group, please contact Christina Metzger at cmetzger@ctia.org .

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