The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –
With transportation projects like the one currently underway in Chattanooga that will allow the city to monitor over a 100 “smart city” intersections when complete – the entire downtown area – some Tennesseans question where these initiatives are leading major hubs within the state. Will today’s smart cities become “15-minute cities” in the future?
The installation of 86 smart city intersections will lead to “the largest urban Internet of Things deployment of its kind in the United States,” boasted Seoul Robotics who is partnering with the Chattanooga Department of Innovation Delivery and Performance, and the Center of Urban Informatics and Progress at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
The $4.5 million project is being funded by the Federal Highway Administration through the ATTAIN program with installations beginning this year and continuing into 2024.
Chattanooga will become a “living laboratory” providing researchers with unparalleled mapping and tracking capabilities. While an earlier focus of a 2019 testbed was concerned with safety regarding vulnerable road users, this next phase switches to “next-generation transportation” which includes electric vehicles, and perhaps even automated vehicles.
Chattanooga is currently the only city in Tennessee participating in the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance, but other major hubs within the state are coming into agreement with the World Economic Forum’s ideals.
The mayors of Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis are all listed as partnering with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.
As with the Global Smart Cities Alliance, cities – under the leadership of these mayors – will rely on lots of data to meet their goals.
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), cities will rely on the Internet of Things (IoT) like the one Chattanooga is building, an “ever-expanding network” of connected devices, to not only collect, but share and analyze data to “combat crime, reduce pollution, decrease traffic congestion, improve disaster preparedness and more.”
Furthermore, the WEF says that thanks to Covid-19 and all of its safety measures and lockdowns, people are now receptive to the concept of living in “15-minute cities.”
These cities will become critical says the WEF, “as climate change and global conflict cause shocks and stresses at faster intervals and increasing severity.”
What could that mean for Tennessee in the future?
Residents of Oxfordshire, England are being readied for a 15-minute city trial next year in which the councils of both the City of Oxford and the county of Oxfordshire will install “traffic filters” on six roads in Oxford.
While not physical barriers, there will be cameras installed that can read license plates so that if a car drives through the filter too many times a day, they will later receive a fine in the mail. Some residents will be allowed to apply for a permit for up to 100 days a year, while others will be limited to 25 days. Buses, taxis, pedestrians, and cyclists will be free to pass through at all times.
About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org.