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72 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | MAY/JUNE 2015 BROADBAND APPS Smart Cities Don't Need to Wait The tools to help battle natural disasters are already here. By Dr. Rouzbeh Yassini / YAS Capital and University of New Hampshire Broadband Center of Excellence I t's ftting to call the 2015 New England winter a "100-year white food." Tat's because, unfortunately, the storms of 2015 remind people that cities still use yesterday's solutions to deal with severe climate conditions. Even one of the United States' most technologically advanced regions, New England, where I live, is tethered to legacy approaches for helping its citizens contend with extremely challenging weather and the myriad problems it creates. Te problem is the same – or worse – in other parts of the country. More than 28 years ago, I invented the technology now known as the cable modem, a technological centerpiece of the broadband data networks that now serve a majority of the nation's population. I provided the intellectual property that underpins this technology for free, without license fees, to help extend the power of this 21st-century toolbox to everyone. Now, I believe it is critically important to further leverage the capabilities of the network to help communities improve the quality of life. Elected ofcials everywhere should consider what happened in New England this past winter and think about how they might take better advantage of technology that's available here and now. Across the region, cities missed out on opportunities to better serve citizens by taking full advantage of the possibilities of a digital, networked, real-time environment coupled with the pervasive reach of today's communications and information devices. 2015 – OR 1915? In the winter of 2015, when New England experienced record snowfall, • Tere was no up-to-date information about which roads were plowed, which walkways were safe to pass, which restaurants were open, when the next bus would arrive or where to safely wait for a bus when the bus stations were full of ice and snow. • Transportation systems shut down because cities could react only to storms and snow piles. • Critical information, such as which health care resources were available, was poorly dispersed. • Retailers were unable to accommodate demand for food and provisions. • Motorists were stranded or could not fnd parking. None of this needed to happen. With support from government and a united efort among both public and private-sector entities, New England could have set a new global standard of excellence for dealing with nature's challenges. OPPORTUNITIES FOR NETWORK-BASED SERVICES Here are just a few examples of how cities could use broadband networks in emergencies: A comprehensive, centralized, mobile- based information resource: Combining real-time data inputs, crowdsourced intelligence, dynamic mapping and Big Data analytics, a one- stop resource could ofer current, accurate visual depictions of critical intelligence pertaining to • Which streets are plowed and accessible in real time. Intelligent sensors built into snowplow machinery could provide