Magic Johnson sees smart technology as a way to bridge the societal divide


Can streetlights help end the digital divide in cities?

Maybe they can if they’re smart. Qualcomm on Monday showed streetlights on its San Diego campus that not only dim, light up and flash red when pedestrians approach crosswalks, but also serve as Wi-Fi hotspots.

This week, the wireless tech company is hosting its third Smart Cities Accelerate event, which was expected to attract more than 300 city officials and technology providers in person and nearly 700 virtually. It’s part of Qualcomm’s efforts to pave the way for a fragmented group of Internet of Things technologies to digitally transform urban centers.

NBA Hall of Fame member Earvin Magic Johnson, co-founder of JLC Infrastructure, helped kick off the conference, along with fellow JLC co-founder Jim Reynolds and Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon. Last year, JLC announced that it would allocate an initial capital of $ 75 million for investments in urban projects developed in collaboration with Qualcomm and others.

“It’s the most important thing yet that we need,” Johnson said. “When you think of smart cities and technology, you think of connecting everyone, not just the rich, not just the middle class. I’m talking about the poor now. Minority students suffered during a pandemic due to virtual learning and lack of internet access. “

Connectivity is also vital for virtual healthcare, Johnson said. During the pandemic, his father had pain in his leg. He was able to get a virtual appointment and his doctor strongly recommended that he go to hospital immediately or risk an amputation, Johnson said.

“Because they jumped on it and were able to give him medicine in the hospital, it saved his life and his leg,” he said. “We have so many people who are not connected.”

The conference, which continues through Wednesday, will focus on several emerging technology trends in smart cities,

Here’s a look at four ways smart cities are taking shape with help from Qualcomm.

The ecosystem
Three years ago, Qualcomm launched its Smart Cities Accelerator to connect municipalities with companies working on hardware and software to digitally transform transportation, sites, corporate campuses, warehouses, healthcare facilities. , schools, etc.

Today, more than 400 entities are members of the Smart Cities Accelerator program.

“Everyone’s talking about the Internet of Things, but it was so fragmented,” said Sanjeet Pandit, global head of smart cities for Qualcomm. “We really needed a custodian of where the whole industry is. We therefore created the Smart Cities Accelerator program. For lack of a better term, it’s the Match.com of smart cities.

It is still early. Although there is interest, smart city technologies are not yet widely deployed.

But interest is growing, particularly in the wake of COVID-19 closures, Pandit said. Qualcomm has offered the city of El Cajon, for example, to become the region’s first 5G-capable smart city. Talks are ongoing.

“There has always been pessimism about smart city deployments, but this pandemic has acted as a catalyst for the adoption of the technology by cities,” he said. “They realized that maybe they had procrastinated a little too much to invest in these areas.”

Smart campus
Qualcomm’s 40-building campus in Sorrento Mesa was set up as a demonstration smart city with a digital command center.

Through an app, employees can see available parking spaces. If they forgot where they parked, they can ask a kiosk to search by partial license plate or car color.

Qualcomm Smart Cities Command Center

(Courtesy of Qualcomm)

Smart trash cans include solar powered compactors. They alert maintenance personnel when they are full, eliminating unnecessary trips. And trash cans are also Wi-Fi hotspots, complementing streetlight hotspots.

Digital whiteboards facilitate in-person and virtual collaboration. There is also comprehensive building energy management, camera and LIDAR security, fleet management, asset tracking and logistics management.

Business plans
Municipalities and site operators control valuable urban real estate, be it roads, street light poles, sidewalks, parking lots, convention centers, stadiums, airports.

Each offers an opportunity to monetize smart city technologies, Pandit said. For example, free public Wi-Fi kiosks in New York City depend on advertising to generate revenue.

Sending a team to empty the bins only when they are full reduces planned maintenance costs. Knowing which parking spaces are the most popular can be used to optimize prices.

“We are using technology to solve a problem and this can be monetized by the city so that it can be sustained over a period of time,” Pandit said.

IoT as a service
One way to cut costs is to offer smart city technologies as a subscription service or as a revenue sharing opportunity. Qualcomm and its partners have targeted 30 industries for this type of program.

These include traffic management with No Traffic, a company that has developed technologies aimed at reducing congestion and CO2 emissions.

With smart sites, Qualcomm and TheIndoorLabs have teamed up to implement a LIDAR-based security system that alleviates privacy concerns while allowing crowd and space management. LIDAR displays thermal signature-like images without fine details such as facial features.


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