“Gig City” and Silicon Valley Get Smart

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Chattanooga, TN, otherwise known as “Gig City,” and San Jose, California have been singled out by the World Economic Forum. At last month’s Smart City Expo World Congress, the two cities were selected as participants in a global initiative centered around broadband, reports the Chattanooga Times Free Press. New technologies being developed by the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance will be employed to manage transportation, energy use, medical care and communications in a more sustainable and equitable way. 

“We are just at the kickoff point with our first meeting [of the G20 Smart Cities Alliance] on Wednesday, but I think this has tremendous potential for the future and underscores the recognition that Chattanooga is getting around the globe as a technology-oriented city with a lot of potentials to implement innovative ideas,” said Kevin Comstock, Smart City director in Chattanooga’s Department of Transportation. “There is also much we can learn from the global perspective of this alliance.”   

California based business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan has analyzed the Smart City model and estimates these locations will invest approximately $327 billion in infrastructure by 2025. The firm predicts this growth could then spark up to $2.5 trillion in business opportunities over the following five years. The report cautions that the right policies need to be in place to see these sorts of optimal results. The full report is available here. 

“Smart technologies offer innovative solutions that can reverse the damage and bring some respite, if not normalcy,” said Malabika Mandel, spokesperson for Frost & Sullivan. “For instance, digital contact tracing can play a critical role in empowering citizens with knowledge of COVID-impacted areas and promote safer urban movement.” 

“Smart cities will focus on data-driven and connected infrastructure, which will lead to higher adoption of technologies like AI and 5G,” he added. “They will prioritize more digitalized services and a strong data analytics infrastructure, leading to increased spending toward technology.” 

Chattanooga got an early jump on creating itself as a smart city, first laying the groundwork in 2010. It says it became the first U.S. city to provide fiber optic internet throughout Electric Power Board‘s (EPB) Chattanooga-centered service area. EPB is a strong local presence and provider of high-speed broadband connections, phone, cable and power. 

“The palette is infinite for smart city activities,” stated Comstock.   

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