What is at the Heart of a Smart City?

Some say connectivity is the heart of a Smart City; others say government and many point to technology as the heart of a Smart City. The very wise say that citizens are the heart of a Smart City. I agree with the latter, but if I think about the first thing a Smart City would break down without, I turn to Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). Don’t get me wrong-without power there will be chaos and without IoT, the circular economy of a Smart City becomes a linear economy almost instantly. Nevertheless, without the safe movement of people, goods and services, all the above gets outright dangerous quickly.

First, let’s define what a Smart City will encompass. The Smart Cities Council “envisions a world where digital technology and intelligent design have been harnessed to create smart, sustainable cities with high-quality living and high-quality jobs.” The Smart City concept consists of three concepts including:

  • Livability to provide clean, healthy living conditions without pollution and congestion;
  • Workability allows cities to provide the enabling infrastructure — energy, connectivity, computing, essential services — to compete globally for high-quality jobs;
  • and Sustainability provides services without stealing from future generations.

Overall, building a Smart City aims to provide seamless connectivity, improved systems delivery, and a better, more equitable quality of life for citizens. This is why the Smart City Pavilion at the ITS World Congress in Montreal is so intriguing to me. The Smart Cities Pavilion will be the epicenter of the ITS World Congress in Montréal and showcase how cities across the globe are using technology to create their vision of next generation integrated mobility solutions in urban settings.

The Smart City Pavilion will focus on how Intelligent Transportation is the heart of Smart Cities’ critical infrastructure, including traffic management, roadways, rail, parking, bike share, transit, car share, traveler information, connected and autonomous vehicles and integrated mobility.

You see, Intelligent Transportation is what makes a difference in the daily life of commuters by moving them faster, smarter and more efficiently. It is also how we reduce traffic fatalities for drivers, bikers and pedestrians. Intelligent Transportation also provides the framework for freight to move vital food and supplies, which are essential for the world’s citizens. Intelligent Transportation keeps us all moving daily, without realizing it’s taking place.

The Smart City Pavilion at the ITS World Congress in Montreal will be a real life demonstration of successful ITS deployments that work together to deploy Smart Cities. It offers us the chance to see Smart Cities united by common ITS threads sharing what they are doing. Smart Cities from multiple continents will present and display and allow attendees to better understand the challenges, opportunities and technologies that interplay in a Smart City. The Smart City Pavilion will also introduce sponsors and vendors outside of the traditional ITS players that also contribute to this world. Every man and his dog has a Smart City show these days, but how many have a show with the common thread of arguably the most indispensable piece of the puzzle?

ITS World Congress in Montreal is October 29 to November 2, 2017. Register here to attend the event or better yet, learn about joining us as a Smart City Pavilion Sponsor here.

The Value of Perpetual Data

So, it is football season and I got to thinking about something…….

A long, long time ago when I was a lad in South Detroit, we use to watch radio (the talkie).  We accepted that the Big Ten was not allowed to play in any bowl game except the Rose Bowl. Then change happened. My beloved Wolverines lost to that “Ohio” school, who then earned going to the Rose Bowl because they kicked our butt and WON the rivalry game.

Blue was headed to the Orange Bowl for the first time. That was good, but the reaction of some of my fellow fans was not. “It is ok we lost, it is great to get to go to Florida and play someone besides the Pac 10”. Bull-Crap on a Ritz! The Orange Bowl is great, but nothing like beating Ohio if you live 42.2 N by 83.7 W.

Today it feels like the same sad fan argument gets used for traffic data collection. A day or two of data is nice because……. Just like Michigan going to the Orange Bowl, it is nice, but it is not the Rose Bowl. A day or two of data is nothing like perpetual knowledge. No exception, end of story.

You can simulate and extrapolate, but the problem is that if you do that for too long, it starts to feel like the real thing and it most certainly is not. Perpetual data has more value.

Let’s look at practical application. About a month ago, a company who installed GRIDSMART a while back and paid one price,  looked at 900 days of minute by minute data. Turns out that on about day 730, someone changed a protected left turn to a permissive left turn.  Within 72 hours, 4,000 more vehicles (+12%) went through that intersection daily. Folks at that intersection got through faster, and 4 other intersections had a lessor load because of it. The City has actionable intelligence about what works and what does not.

Everyone won. Because GRIDSMART permits you to record video (and lets you see it now or whenever through a built in DVR without waiting or paying more), we know that there were zero T-Bones from turning on left during a permissive for the first 50 or so days and counting after the change.

So, one can record millions of hours of traffic around the world 2 days at a time and make you pay for it with a token credit system. “3 tokens for an hour of counts if you live here, but five tokens if you live there.”  (BTW – how much does a token cost?  That varies as well???). Or, one can actuate an intersection, or monitor a corridor while collecting data in perpetuity for a simple straight forward cost that is the same around the country. A price that is lot more cost effective. Then, you can pull that data any time you want with a point and a click or even have it emailed to you.

Because sometimes I might not get lucky enough to have my temporary cameras up on the day before, during and after the change was made to the timing or environment that made everything different. How many tokens for peace of mind?

Just like the 10 year old boy telling his friends that losing the football did stink, even if there was a consolation prize, I tell you today that perpetually updated, single priced data is the grand prize. Small windows in time counted by someone, somewhere else in the world is a consolation prize and the consolation prize is better than a sharp stick in the eye. Still, ask the question, consider the value of your data and then ask if you want to rationalize or get the grand prize?

That’s All I Know.

Be Well and Be Happy,

Bill Malkes Signature

 

 

 

 

 

Bill

Celebrating Richard Arvine Overton, Oldest Living WWII Veteran

Here is the straight up: it is a contentious day here in America three days after the election. It seems like everyone is upset with something and feels like the world is falling apart. GRIDSMART always doubles down when the stakes are high so here goes: “The election does not matter in the big picture because we have the privilege to be feeling contentious thanks to the over one million Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice in war.” It is not Memorial Day, but don’t forget that statistic.

Today out of a nation of 320 million, 1.3 million Americans are on active duty with another 1 million serving as reservists. That means that less than 1% of Americans are willing to make the sacrifice that more than 1 million already have to make sure we can bicker, complain, and raise our children in a safe place where there are no limits to what they can be. Fewer than 1% are willing to be that “statistic in the first paragraph.” Is it harder for many than some to achieve this dream that our military protects? Absolutely and that is wrong, but those less than 1% are giving us the chance to make that right.

That same less than 1% has protected us for a couple of hundred years plus and made sure that we have the chance to “screw things up” any way we like. God bless you, each and every one. God bless those who came before and those who serve us now. God bless those who believe and those we hope will believe in time. On behalf of the entire GRIDSMART family, let me say thank you for being willing to pay a cost that can never be repaid although I pray you never have to pay it.

richard-arvine-overtonA very special thanks to Sergeant Richard Arvine Overton, who is our oldest living WW II Veteran and who bravely volunteered and served in the 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion even though it was disgracefully labeled a “colored” unit. Thank you, Mr. Overton, Sir. I raise my whiskey glass to you and would be honored to share a “whiskey-stiffened” coffee with you.

Bill Malkes Signature

Post-Holiday Bummer

It is the day after INTERSECT16 and it feels very much like the slight melancholy of December 26th. You feel amazing about the past few days, you feel proud of bringing the family together, you feel thankful for all the great people in your life, you feel concern that they make it home safe. You honestly feel a bit of relief that your labor of love gets to take a break and you feel anticipation for next year. So, why do I feel this way after INTERSECT?

Because with GRIDSMART it is all about family from all over the country and all over the world. It is about me having the privilege to work with employees, business partners and end customers who truly care about doing the right thing, who care about their neighbors. Good and Fair People who want to make a million lives better through technology. That happens to be with GRIDSMART Technology.

It is more than a business for us, it is more than a job for our customers, it is about making the world better for our neighbors. This year we all learned from ITS Super Stars Kirk Steudle, Carlos Braceras, Randy Iwasaki, Regina Hopper and Paul Brubaker.  We shared case studies from around the world, got continuing education credits and we all welcomed Daniel Benhammou and Acyclica to the GRIDSMART family.  Who doesn’t love new arrivals to the family at the holidays?

And, did you see the press love for INTERSECT?

So, what is the call to action for this post? Love and applicate those around you. Join us in serving others to make the world a safer and better place. Always give more than you have too. And get ready for INTERSECT17……It is going to be EPIC….again. Yes, the melancholy is fading; time to get to work!

Let me not forget, congratulations and thanks to Tim Smith for being named the Ultimate GRIDSMART Man of 2016.

Association Leaders Highlight Federal Technology Initiatives

Regina Hopper, CEO of The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) and Paul Brubaker, CEO of The Alliance for Transportation Innovation (ATI21.org) held a lively discussion today on federal transportation policy and innovation. The discussion, moderated by Bryan Saint focused on this critical moment in the evolution of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and the task of moving exciting innovations out of the labs and onto the roadways.

With more than 30,000 people killed annually on America’s roads (early statistics indicate that number could approach 40,000 in 2016), Hopper and Brubaker agreed these life-saving technologies have never been more critical. But major challenges to deployment remain including transition from the current fleet, cybersecurity and in the case of self-driving, job retraining for those who will be displaced.

Earlier this Fall, the U.S. Department of Transportation released its Federal Automated Vehicles Policy signaling government support for self-driving vehicles, but the road to full autonomy has many challenges. Brubaker, who formerly served as administrator of U.S. DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) stated that his group released a National Strategic Framework to advance self-driving vehicles just last week arguing that bringing these technologies to bear should be a critical goal of the incoming administration. Going one step further, he said only the office of the president has the ability to bring all government and private sector stakeholders together to accomplish this goal.

In spite of the challenges, Hopper and Brubaker remain optimistic about prospects for a connected transportation future and the role private industry and innovators will play in making it happen.