Broadband Communities

AUG-SEP 2017

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017 | | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | 51 one of which is not. e first pattern, common to both governmental and nongovernmental organizations, is that technology adoption moves in stages. First-stage uses are internal to an organization; in the second stage, the organization distributes information (and later services) to outside users; third-stage uses facilitate interaction between inside and outside users. e third stage may start with interaction only (like the citizen engagement apps of 2016) and then build interaction into services. e lesson of 2017 is that smart-city apps appear to be moving into this third stage. For example, first-generation automated meters were not even networked. To read a water, a natural gas or an electric meter, a reader had to drive or walk close to one – still a significant improvement over having to stand directly in front of it. Second-generation meters are connected wirelessly or via fiber networks so they can be read and controlled remotely. e third versions – a subject of much discussion at the Smart Cities Connect portion of the joint conference – allow utilities to share readings, and perhaps even some degree of control, with end users. e number of items one can equip with instruments (to read and to control) is high enough that the increased bandwidth, decreased latency, and higher reliability of fiber-based networks are real advantages. Items such as streetlights number in the thousands, even in small towns. IS INNOVATION NECESSARY FOR A SMART CITY? e smart-city movement, however, amounts to more than the adoption of individual apps. Two defining features are worth emphasizing. One is the value placed on gathering data, analyzing data, and basing decisions and action on data. Data- based management is worth more than it costs, perhaps many times more. For this reason, becoming a smart city often starts with urban instrumentation – installing measuring devices and thus gathering data. Sometimes, as with automated meters, these devices provide better ways to measure what cities were already measuring; sometimes, as with smart trash cans or smart parking lots, these devices measure things that were not measured before (whether a trash can needs to be emptied or a parking space is open). Once a city places sensors everywhere, it has pushed its network close to many individual homes. At that point, the economics strongly favor extending the network to provide direct connections to citizens and collect subscriber fees from those citizens. e second defining feature of smart cities is a focus on technology and innovation. Smart cities are committed to the idea that a better device, or a better process, exists or can be invented, and that the effort to find or invent it will be worth more than it costs. is brings me to the second pattern in government technology adoption, one I see much more frequently in government agencies than elsewhere: the not-invented- here syndrome (NIHS). Government agencies are more likely than nonprofits or firms to insist that the technology they use be developed for them or at least heavily customized for them. Decades ago, this insistence sometimes applied even to what we now know as word processing and spreadsheets. (ankfully, even the most NIHS- prone agencies no longer insist on developing their own word processing or spreadsheet software, although they might insist on custom templates and be reluctant to start with templates from another agency.) Because of NIHS, many cities, and the vendors selling to them, start with the assumption that either new invention or heavy customization is required. e customization may not be in the device itself but in the way it is implemented or combined with other technology. People talk about learning from best practices of other agencies and other cities, but many still assume that any such lessons must be heavily customized. Some city leaders assume that if a technology is likely to solve some city Researchers from Case Western University show a US Ignite application leveraging three- dimensional images to explore human anatomy.

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