Broadband Communities

NOV-DEC 2018

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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N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8 | w w w. b r o a d b a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . c o m | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | 4 7 San Diego was thinking about building a loop shuttle in the downtown area to reduce congestion. Instead, for one-quarter the cost, the city bought a fleet of electric vehicles and allowed people to ride them for free. ere are streetlights everywhere, but they had only one job – lighting. e city decided to make them energy- efficient, multi-use platforms for the internet of things. Now they can sense vehicles in the roadway and help manage congestion, optimize parking, improve public safety and reach San Diego's Vision Zero goals. e new streetlights save $2 million in energy, which finances many other projects. e streetlights operate wirelessly now but will eventually be wired with fiber so they can move more data. Other projects include advanced metering for water meters and a one- stop portal for businesses dealing with the city. ese projects are driven by open- data efforts. We've moved to better digitization and storage of records, and we upload them to an open data portal so that residents and software developers and technologists can develop new apps. When we held hackathons, people came up with interesting ideas, such as a food truck app and a digital cane for the visually impaired. We're now offering an app that lets a resident take a picture of a problem – a pothole, for example – send it in, and get a picture back showing that the problem has been fixed. at turns a negative interaction with the city into a positive one. Without any city dollars, we've introduced dockless bikes and electric scooters – and now we have a last- mile transit solution. We need to accommodate these devices through regulations. We're also testing the use of drones for Amazon Prime and Uber Eats. e electric utility built an app to predict wildfires so it could reduce its liability for wildfires, and it made the app available to fire departments. San Diego is using it and can now do predictive deployments of firefighters when the risk is high. We can be more successful at fighting fires. Because of all these efforts, we have a growing pool of young talent, our No. 1 resource. Sixty percent of migrants to San Diego hold a college degree. ey won't accept a "dumb" city. ere are still problems, though. We're working with one impoverished neighborhood to try and connect it and alleviate its problems through technology. at will be a proof of concept for the rest of the city. As Jane Jacobs said, "Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody only because, and only when, they are created by everybody." James and Deborah Fallows' keynote presentation discussed the lessons they learned writing their new book, "Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America." James Fallows : We wanted to visit the sort of places that don't get media attention unless something goes wrong, and we put out a query looking for towns that had addressed their problems in a significant way. We got about 1,000 responses, and we visited about 25 towns in depth and others for shorter periods. Our biggest finding was the contrast between national politics in this troubled time and local politics, which is inventive, creative, practical and looking for ways to develop. At the same time there is paralysis and division at the national level, there is renewal and healthy activity at the local level. When people talk about their lived experiences, they have a nuanced view, and they feel that things are progressing; when they talk about what's happening elsewhere, they are fearful. ere are still local problems, but it felt as if these towns were moving forward rather than backward. An incidental surprise was the reverse talent migration from cities to smaller towns. ere's an archipelago of opportunities based on connectivity. Connectivity of all kinds is increasingly important, including transportation and local consciousness – an acute sense of "is is our town, and we care about it." e lived reality of immigration and ethnic change contrasted with the national discourse. We saw the process of absorbing new people going on pretty much the way it always has. It's never problem free; it's always dislocating; but in the end, the United States always absorbs people. From the interstate, all these towns look the same. Inside the towns, they all look different. We saw many different ways to fund projects, reinvent institutions and refashion life. Deborah Fallows : Public libraries are the heart and soul of communities. ey respond to communities' wants and needs and fill in the gaps in services. ey'll tell you it's all about the children. In one town, librarians look on the streets for new babies in strollers and give them books and library cards. In Columbus, Ohio, librarians put baskets of books on school buses. In Redlands, California, the library sponsors a historical tour of the town for all fourth-graders. In Los Angeles, people get their GEDs in the libraries, and the mayor celebrates with them. We saw adult literacy programs in the libraries, as well as maker spaces – some modern, some homemade. In Dodge City, a young man created a maker space with sewing machines, Towns That Work James Fallows Deborah Fallows

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