Peachtree Corners pilots the edge of the net

As 5G continues to spread across the country and the world, not only film broadcasting services or intelligent military drones will benefit. One area that can have a positive impact on many people is the use of technology in so-called smart cities to improve the quality of life of the people who live there. And while many major cities, such as Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, are working on impressive pilot programs in this area, you probably won’t find more concentrated smart city innovation than in a small place called Peachtree CornersGeorgia.

Located on the banks of the Chatahuchi River in the southwest corner of Gwyneth County in the Atlanta subway area, Peachtree Corners is home to more than 40,000 residents. Looks like it’s a really good place to live, but the biggest claim to fame is that the city is founded Laboratory of Curiosity, a huge facility designed to help the industry test new technology. The city does not charge companies for the use of the Curiosity Lab, which includes a stand-alone 1.5-mile test track for cars. And when it comes time for smart urban technologies to leave the lab, they are deployed in the city to see how they work in the real world.

NextGov last registered Peachtree Corners back in September 2020. New technologies, such as 5G, were not yet widely available, but the city was still deploying some impressive experimental programs, such as driverless buses, traffic lights controlled by artificial intelligence and autonomous personal scootersto help transport people around the city. Due to the fact that advanced technologies are becoming more common, we thought it was a good time to check out what is happening at Peachtree. And, it turns out, the city is teeming with new activity.

One of the biggest projects currently underway, which could serve as a model for other cities looking to connect millions of IoT and other devices to a central hub or command center, is to install a communications system that will support true networks. The project at Peachtree Corners is underway managed by ACiiSTan Israeli company specializing in marginal networking projects for smart cities.

“The Edge Network is a practical platform for connecting end devices such as cameras, sensors, broadcast signs, V2I antennas and any other standard devices that use Ethernet to communicate with servers or other devices,” said Sagi Gurfinkel, co-founder and CEO of ACiiST. . “ACiiST provides such networks with high performance, low latency, multi-tenant capabilities and many other features without requiring the city to dig a trench to install new cable and distribution boxes, which significantly reduces costs while eliminating the pain associated with these types of installation platforms.”

At Peachtree Corners the edge network is installed on existing street lighting poles. It starts small, just covers half a mile or so of roads around the Curiosity Lab itself. The project uses fiber lines for backup, at least in the initial stages, to ensure system backup. Once this has been confirmed, the border network can be expanded across the city to connect even more smart devices to the central hub. And Gurfinkel believes this could also serve as an ideal test for other cities looking to invest in peripheral networks without having to dig miles of new trenches for fiber-optic cable.

“The ACiiST solution creates the infrastructure for wireless solutions from Wi-Fi to 5G and V2X antennas. These antennas and access points require a reliable connection for optimal performance while providing the last few feet of communication, ”Gurfinkel said. “ACiiST ensures that these cells are connected to each other and to their core network, using high bandwidth and ultra-low latency in addition to ultra-high reliability.”

But the ACiiST regional network is just the latest in a long line of smart city innovation projects. Brendan Branham – Assistant Mayor and Chief Technology Officer of Peachtree Corners, who worked in the city since its inception in 2012. Most city managers also do not serve as technical director, so our first question was about how he and the city are going to balance the traditional needs of city residents (e.g., garbage collection, crime prevention, access to good jobs, health care, etc. .) with all their smart city initiatives. After all, the city is a real place, not just a technology laboratory.

“This is a very important issue, and most don’t realize that the two concepts of service delivery and smart city can and should be linked together,” Branham said. “We can use technologies that are being tested and implemented through the efforts of a smart city to better serve our residents. One example is crime prevention. We were able to test the license plate product we have now distributed in our city, and it has helped to return more than $ 3 million in stolen property and has helped detectives uncover several cases using this technology. ”

According to Branham, the key is to always remember the residents. While many technologies can be tested at Peachtree Corners, only those that benefit the people who live there will be deployed outside the Curiosity Lab.

“Everything should start with the residents at the forefront of the process. The ability to deploy technologies that benefit our residents and businesses, and not just deploy technology for technology, is always important to us, ”Branham said. “The Curiosity Lab allows us to sit in the front row to see these technologies at the earliest stage and give feedback to companies. With some of these technologies we are just a great place to let them grow their business. We may not become customers, but it still allows us to innovate. ”

A good example of such a concept is the autonomous scooter program, which we considered back in 2020. Scooters without a driver no longer ride the streets of Pitchetra Corner, but Branham says the program has been a huge success. for Turtoisewhich makes scooter technology as well for the city.

“It was a success for us because we really had to show companies around the world how our living lab can play an integral role in developing technologies that interact with the public, and because of that we had a few companies that protested at Curiosity Lab. deployment, ”Branham said. “For Tortoise it was a success because they were able to learn through deployment what works and what doesn’t, make changes based on real apps and then sign an agreement with Spin. However, the industry has continued to change, and Turtoise, thanks to what they learned while testing here, has continued to adapt its technology and is now deploying mobile stores with remote control in different cities and locations. ”

And of course, 5G is driving the next wave of technology deployment at Peachtree Corners. According to Branham, increasing bandwidth and reliability opens up a ton of new opportunities for smart cities.

“We’re really starting to see an increase in the number of devices that use 5G, which really helps us take advantage of its capabilities. We have managed to place the devices in places where high bandwidth is required at reduced rates, because we no longer need to pull fiber to them, such as the new smart parking app we are working on with Bosch and T-Mobile, ”said Branham . “We had 17 areas that we needed to cover video for the app, but holding a fiber to these places would cost the city tens of thousands of dollars. We needed high speed to process machine learning on cameras, and now we can do it over 5G. We have also deployed roadblocks in the 5G network to provide additional safety for pedestrians on our road systems. ”

As 5G technology matures and more devices start using it, Branham says Peachtree Corners will continue to innovate. They have many smart city projects under development, and many of them will potentially be the first track and testing ground for a nationwide deployment. These include several green initiatives designed to help the environment and combat climate change.

“We are working on several new and exciting initiatives with companies around the world. One of them is the creation of a multimodal mobility center, which will serve as a new platform for testing sustainable alternatives for being the space of electric vehicle infrastructure, ”Branham explained. “We aim to use hydrogen to generate energy for electric car chargers, as well as solar panels, and including end-of-life electric vehicle batteries as storage devices. As we continue to monitor the introduction of electric vehicles, the infrastructure to support them will become an important part of the ecosystem, and we need to consider alternative resources to manage grid demand. ”

John Breeden II is an award-winning journalist and reviewer with more than 20 years of technology coverage experience. He is the CEO Bureau of Technical Writers, a group that creates technological ideological leadership content for organizations of all sizes. Twitter: @LabGuys

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