Smart City and Smart Building technology is beginning to boom in U.S. cities like Seattle, Portland, and Nashville, as well as cities abroad like Paris, Singapore and Tel Aviv. But how are other cities leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) to get smart and connected, to better serve their citizens and visitors?
This past Thursday (May 17th, 2018), IoTFuse held their monthly meetup at Silicon Prairie in Saint Paul to shed light on what makes cities and buildings smart and what kind of technology can be used to reach their goals using the IoT. Lead by Flarean, SBC Founder and CEO, Jason Barnett, the evening was filled with juicy insights into Smart City and Smart Building technology that was as joyfully intoxicating as smells coming from the Topper's pizzas on a table nearby.
But, what did we learn? Well, we learned how cities and companies are putting the IoT to work in the state of Minnesota and abroad.
Ideas for Capitalizing on Smart City Networks
Jason Barnett, Founder and CEO of Flarean, SBC
As the attendees settled in in the meeting space of Silicon Prairie, Jason Barnett started the evening off by speaking about the progress of smart city networks and the services that are beginning to play a part in the everyday lives of city residents. From city snow removal apps to more digitally advanced urban parking solutions, Jason outlined that cities need to continue to adapt to today's technology-driven culture and adopt more customer experience-centric smart city initiatives to not only retain residents and tennants, but attract new ones, as well!
One of Jason's own pain points revolved around the long-time Minnesota annoyance of the snow emergency parking restrictions. As a potential solution, Jason developed the Flarebot, a street light-adhering system that would emit light to indicate what side of the street residents can park on during the snow emergencies. The Flarebot could also be used to communicate other public alerts and could be an easy solution for a common resident needs.
Smart Cities And Buildings for a Smarter Saint Paul
Marcq Sung, Senior Project Manager for the City of Saint Paul
Sticking to the city side of things, Marcq Sung from the City of Saint Paul's Department of Planning and Economic Development spoke about the smart city initiative taking place in the state capital. This public/private partnership, named the "Full Stack Initiative," is being lead by the City of Saint Paul and the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and provides a full range of services to help tech and innovation sector businesses start up and scale up in Saint Paul.
So what inspired these smart city objectives?
Marcq cited that there is not only a growing demand, especially for businesses looking to move, expand, or get their start in Saint Paul, but also that such objectives can cultivate deeper resident participation in local government and initiatives. Marcq also mentioned that the core of this strategy is to find out how the city can become a better company partner and create a user-centered experience that benefits both the city, as well as its residents.
Affordable, Smart Building Automation Solutions for Better Productivity
Deepinder Singh, CEO of 75F
After winning over the crowd with the world's fastest gigabit router that he had in his garage as a mobile network designer for years before starting 75F (which he also identified as the world's most expensive garage heater), Deep spoke to the crowd about the original life event that lead to the founding of 75F. After his infant daughter was born, he noticed that she would cry at night and discovered that the temperature in her room would drop 10+ degrees each night. As a result, the swing in temperature made her uncomfortable and lead to a long night of lost sleep for her, as well as Deep and his wife. This eventually grew to a larger calling as he learned that the cost of utilities and energy consumption for buildings and cities, as a whole, were continuing to climb.
But what does that mean for Smart Cities?
Well, Deep dove into the 2015 Harvard Center for Health and Global Environment Study that unearthed that an enhanced green building with lower VOCs (volatile organic compounds) increased cognitive processing by 101%. Therefore, if cities, and the buildings inside, them were outfitted with affordable systems that improved the air quality and kept the temperature consistent not matter the time of day or the number of occupants inside, productivity and employee cognition would improve dramatically. Cities like Warren, MN and International Falls, MN have already made their move with affordable 75F systems and turning some of their buildings into Smart Buildings, all while enjoying a reduction in their HVAC costs along the way.
Improving Public Works and Prison Systems with the IoT
Eric Bloms, Director of Software Development at Turnkey Corrections and Three Square Market
Much like Warren and International Falls, MN, we learned last night that the City of River Falls, Wisconsin is also utilizing the IoT to improve their city's operations, while decreasing their operational costs. Self-identified millennial and Director of Software Development, Eric Bloms, from Turnkey Corrections and Three Square Market (a River Falls-based company) spoke about the city's use of RFID tags and the city's Public Works Department as the technology is used to help collect and catalog maintenance data to help optimize their current maintenance procedures and schedules. Eric also touched on Turnkey's commissary system that is designed to make commissary and communication services easy for both inmates and jail staff alike by thoughtfully piecing together simple accounting procedures, thorough training, and comprehensive service to improve current processes and employee safety.
As fans of innovative technology themselves, Eric mentioned that Turnkey Corrections and Three Square Market are also 75F customers (see their video testimonial and case study here) and that their relationship with 75F continues to flourish far beyond the time of it's installation.