West Hollywood Uses Graphic Novel Approach to Sell Smart City Infrastructure

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Hollywood, CA, more specifically West Hollywood, or WeHo to the very hip, knows a bit about packaging and selling ideas to the public in a visually pleasing way.  WeHo Smart City, a dedicated subgroup operated by the city, is launching an initiative to explore ideas around the future use of its street light infrastructure from both a policy and design perspective. With more companies competing for access to their valuable real estate, West Hollywood officials have chosen a unique style of presentation, the graphic novel.

The format tries to define both visually and with content, what lies ahead for their city.  For instance, the WeHo Smart City of the future sees that fiber is not necessary at every or even most poles as “WiMAX, mesh WiFi, and cellular tech can do the job.” Also, outside of video, WeHo Smart City reports, the 2.5G is often enough for data-collecting sensors. 

“The key here is to envision pole-based technology not simply as sensors but as part of a distributed computer where calculation/tabulation operations occur in situ for transmission of only the best data back to a central place,” the white paper states. “Using street infrastructure as a distributed supercomputer also has resiliency implications: why not use the processing power on these poles to offload city computing tasks?”

Street lights, they feel, should be designated for future modular accommodation of whatever sensor package is needed. The city says they have put a strong value on how the public realm is designed and experienced and it is important to consider that these sensors do not need to be “hidden” but should be deployed in a way that is sensitive to the other urban design elements the city is implementing.

“When looking at applications for the Smart Bus Shelters program, smart street furniture, and other connected infrastructure, it is important to consider how WeHo Smart City will address the digital divide and provide alternative means of access,” the report concludes. “This may include the adoption of onstreet access points, leveraging community facilities such as libraries and recreation centers as potential locations for computer access, and training staff on how to help community members when the usual tools are not functioning.”

June 27, 2019

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