According to Karen Lightman, executive director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Metro21 Smart Cities Institute, the approval of the US government’s infrastructure plan could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make IoT more of a reality for average citizens. The institute assists people who are dealing with real-world issues like landslides and air quality by leveraging technologies developed at Carnegie Mellon University.
Lightman said the infrastructure investment provides an opportunity to build back better by, for example, installing fiber as roads are rebuilt to make these roadways highly connected, on technology expert Stacey Higgenbotham’s show. This, she claimed, would ensure the infrastructure investment’s long-term viability.
She claimed that infrastructure could be created in a way that addressed many of the inequities of prior infrastructure projects that polarised communities, particularly those of color. It can do all of this while lowering emissions and increasing safety.
“You can have all the sensor networks in the world but if they are not connected, they don’t work,” she said. They are not going to improve efficiency or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The proposal includes a significant investment in broadband, which Lightman feels will act as a catalyst for private sector investment, and she is enthused about the implications for both urban and rural populations. It would be a game-changer, she said, because it would allow more people to use the internet to start businesses, apply for jobs, receive healthcare and telemedicine, apply for benefits, and so on. This will vastly improve one’s quality of life.
Connected buildings and connected vehicles could improve connectivity in smart cities. However, she cautioned that this needed to be done with chip-level cyber security in order to build community confidence. People would not feel safe under a surveillance-oriented regime, she claimed.
This, she added, was an opportunity for companies to be ahead of the curve and demonstrate that they cared about safety, cyber security, and trust, as well as the idea that everyone should own their data and determine how to share it.
“We can put all this investment into IoT but if people feel like Big Brother is watching them, the tech backlash could be quite severe,” said Lightman.
Finally, she stated that the internet should be treated similarly to other public services like electricity and water.