Source: Blue App
While some IoT applications are happening already in Chattanooga, many more are still in the research phase. And according to Berke, Chattanooga is becoming “a place that is recognized for using our technology to be a testbed for the next big, smart solutions.”
In October 2018, the City of Chattanooga, Hamilton County, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, EPB, Erlanger Hospital, Co.Lab, and the Enterprise Center announced the formation of the Chattanooga Smart Community Collaborative, which aims to collaborate in pursuing and funding smart city research. Much of this research is being spearheaded by UTC’s new Center for Urban Informatics and Progress (CUIP), led by Dr. Mina Sartipi. CUIP is researching IoT and smart city innovations related to everything from transportation to health care, energy, public safety, water, and waste. The smart city work began simply as a research topic at UTC, but then the school was awarded two National Science Foundation Research grants to work on applications that need gigabit internet.
“That’s when the collaboration between the university and the city started growing significantly,” says Sartipi. “We were doing a lot of these things in our labs, but we needed a testbed … a place where we could test some of the algorithms we were developing.”
Dr. Mina Sartipi
One of CUIP’s primary research projects is on autonomous vehicles. “How can we improve drivers’ awareness and the safety of everyone by making cars communicate with each other and with the infrastructure?” Sartipi says.
Sartipi envisions, and is testing, a future in which IoT tech installed in cars and traffic lights would allow them to “talk” to each other, sharing data in a network – more like a single organism than individual vehicles. Rather than each autonomous vehicle “seeing” only what is directly in front of it, it would also be able to see what the rest of the connected cars, traffic lights, and other smart technology see. If the lead car in a pack stops for a pedestrian, the rest of the cars would be able to react to that pedestrian simultaneously, rather than reacting only to the actions of the car in front of them.
Other ongoing research projects are delving into applying smart city IoT to improve drinking water and storm water management. Faculty from the computer science department are developing IoT technology that can monitor underground pipelines.
EPB is driving research as well. When Ingraham talks about the future of Chattanooga as a smart city, he talks of homes equipped with IoT smart thermostats, water heaters, and lights. He also envisions a power grid distributed among renewable energy stations – a cleaner, more resilient, more affordable power supply.
“We know statistically that a third of all the electricity we use is wasted,” Ingraham says. “Whatever we can do to use these technologies to eliminate that waste allows us to reduce the cost of electricity.
“For the last five years we have been building models and learning all we can about these technologies so that we can model the economic impact,” he adds. “We are moving toward that future – not just dreaming about it. “
There’s huge economic potential to all this research as well. As the technology improves, opportunities abound for entrepreneurs to begin developing products and businesses that help cities, companies, and individuals manage their data and harness IoT’s potential.
The Internet of Things is here to stay, and it’s only getting bigger. And Chattanooga, equipped with the smart grid and Gig, a public-private partnership fostering innovative research, and a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, is uniquely equipped to harness IoT technology and become a smart city on the cutting edge.