ASU Smart City Innovation Center announced

Last year, billionaire Bill Gates proposed building a “smart city” here in Arizona. Rather, it was an investment company the tech genius was associated with that was putting together an $80 million package to build a high-tech wonderland outside the Phoenix area. The community is said to be designed around high-speed networks, autonomous vehicles, data centers, new manufacturing technologies, and autonomous logistics hubs.

The smart city isn’t getting built just yet, but it’s an idea of what is to come–possibly. The goal is to not only promote technology and boost interconnectivity, but also reduce pollution, make streets safer, and cut commute times.

Now, Arizona State University is getting in on the smart city game with its own planned tech community research. The ASU Smart City Cloud Innovation Center (CIC) is a newly announced initiative that will spearhead plans for smart communities down the road. The ASU Smart City CIC will work in conjunction with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to focus on how high-tech communities can solve regional challenges such as those listed above.

“It’s all about sharing data and info with other entities who have the technology, but not sure where to take their expertise,” Chris Richardson, Deputy Chief Information Officer Development, Mobility, and Smart Cities at Arizona State University said. “We want to give folks data and information to create a private-public partnership that helps the greater good.”

One huge goal for ASU and AWS is to help smart city designers build on technologies that will get them where they want to go in high-speed communities. So far, the center has helped everyone from city planners to health care administrators, to working on certain challenges related to autonomous vehicle regulation, along with health care management and urban growth.

One way in which the ASU Smart City center could contribute to a smart community in the future is by updating street-lighting systems across regions. Through data collection from street light sensors city planners can alter and update implementation plans for entire communities.

The new center is slated to open in 2019, but is already getting things going at SkySong, where teams of people from both AWS and ASU are already diving into research. The new center will see industry experts, students, visiting scholars, and community members filing in and out to work towards finding the right solutions to challenges posed by smart cities.

I feel that our government’s approach to enablement and allowing innovation without extreme regulation is helping us,” says Richardson, who spent 20 years working at Honeywell before heading over to ASU in 2015. “When you have this in place to create policies for fintech experimentation, and blockchain, and autonomous, and cybersecurity, it creates the construct to try things within reason.”

AWS has been working on a number of smart city initiatives. The tech behemoth has been developing cloud expertise and global solution platforms for other CIC’s before teaming up with Arizona State University, including California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, California, and Dongseo University in Busan, Korea.

Nick Esquer

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