Adaptive cities: The next phase for smart cities

Viai News

February 14, 2023

Adaptive cities allow municipalities to balance political, economic, social, technological, and environmental conditions, continuously analyzing and acting on them.

Cities are incredibly dynamic. And while smart cities are being used and considered globally to help improve operations, the delivery of services, and the quality of life, some believe more is needed. Specifically, smart city planners and designers must begin thinking along the lines of adaptive cities.

Let’s put the scope of the issues into perspective. Many cities are already facing problems dealing with traffic, waste management, water, sustainability issues, and more. And the situation will only get worse in the years to come. Currently, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, with 68% projected to live in urban areas by 2050. In the United States, the number is already at 83% and is projected to reach 89% by 2050.

Smart cities have long been eyed as a way to deal with many of the challenges municipalities face on a day-to-day basis. Such cities collect vast amounts of data, which is collected and analyzed via edge devices. But according to the World Economic Forum, “the city of the future needs to go one critical step further. It needs to become an adaptive city able to respond dynamically to continuous change and disruption.”

It further noted that developments and events in recent years show just how disruptive things can be. On the new technologies front, the forum points to things like 3D printing, artificial intelligence, autonomous cars, digital twins, and more. On the disruptive side, there has been the pandemic, extreme weather events, and geopolitical conflicts.

Enter adaptive cities

The forum noted that “the smart city concept worked well for steady-state conditions, but in a world of continuous disruption, a key requirement for the city is to be able to respond to change and do so with intrinsic agility across both digital and physical aspects of its operating model. Agility in the digital ecosystem is nothing if the city remains brittle in its physical infrastructure.”

That’s where adaptive cities come in. They must balance all the political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental conditions, continuously analyzing and acting on them.

One area that highlights the nuanced difference between a smart city and an adaptive city is parking. There are many applications of smart parking that share empty spot availability gathered via distributed sensors with drivers seeking a place to park. Such apps aim to reduce congestion caused by drivers endlessly circling the block to find a parking spot.

In some cases, the municipality has taken the approach to a higher level by combining more than one technology. One example was a pilot program at the Stuttgart airport that combined an intelligent infrastructure, a digital parking garage operations platform, and autonomous vehicles into an automated valet parking service.

These programs and initiatives are innovative. But the World Economic Forum points to more dynamic systems that would deliver greater benefits that might be implemented in the future. One example is a dynamic curb management solution that enables city planners to smoothen the flow of traffic and deliveries at the curbside. Such a solution could turn two-hour parking spots into three-minute loading zones at times when deliveries are commonly made. In fact, several U.S. cities are working on versions of this where they offer dynamically-priced delivery zones, with rates and availability based on time of day and other factors. Such a service could be proactively managed on a minute-by-minute basis.

In general, a dynamic curb management solution is quite a different beast than a smart app that helps people park. The latter saves residents time, reduces traffic congestion, and most likely helps the city reduce the carbon emissions that would have come from cars circling blocks. The former does similar things but also helps delivery services get goods into the hands of merchants, maximizes the use of precious real estate (curbside parking), and brings additional revenue to the city.

Read the article here: Adaptive cities: The next phase for smart cities

Chattanooga building out ‘smart intersection network’

Viai News

January 6, 2023

Chattanooga, Tennessee, will add dozens of “smart city intersections” through an ongoing partnership supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Chattanooga Department of Innovation Delivery and Performance, working with Seoul Robotics and the Center of Urban Informatics and Progress at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, are installing sensing technology in 86 downtown intersections, building on a testbed established in 2019. The Federal Highway Administration is funding the $4.5 million initiative through the ATTAIN program, said CUIP Founding Director Mina Sartipi, and installations will happen this year and next.

The intersections will be equipped with tools, namely lidar sensing technology, to gain real-time traffic insights and monitor infrastructure usage. That data can inform future traffic management, alleviate congestion, and map ideal locations for EV charging stations, among other potential benefits, partners say.


Chattanooga, the southeastern Tennessee city with about 182,000 people, has embraced smart city research and implementation. This week’s announcement builds on a 2019 testbed known as the MLK Smart Corridor. There, sensors track and predict the movement of pedestrians and vehicles, which partners say allows them to better understand traffic flow and road user interactions, and identify potentially unsafe incidents.

The expansion is expected to result in over 100 tech-equipped intersections across downtown. “Our work in Chattanooga will deliver more than insights into the city,” said William Muller, vice president of business development at Seoul Robotics, in the company’s announcement. The “scalable network of smart intersections” will allow partners to generate “a real world, data-informed testing environment for emissions management, pedestrian safety, electric vehicles and more,” Muller said.

Sartipi also explained that the partners have a digital twin that simulates intersections using those data inputs. The digital twin allows them to test and see how a change in traffic light timing, for example, could affect traffic flow.

Seoul Robotics said the expansion will be “the largest urban Internet of Things deployment of its kind in the United States.” While the earlier focus of the testbed largely centered on understanding safety issues surrounding vulnerable road users, Sartipi said this next phase of the testbed and its growing footprint will allow researchers to focus on “next-generation transportation,” including electrification, connected vehicles, and potentially automated vehicles.

Read the article here: Chattanooga building out ‘smart intersection network’

Israel targets 'smart' cities with new 5G mobile auction

Viai News

December 8, 2022

Israel urged mobile firms to expand the deployment of fifth-generation sites to allow for ‘smart’ stadiums and hospitals on Wednesday, as the country launched its second 5G tender.

Communications Ministry director general Liran Avisar Ben Horin said in a statement that smart traffic lights using 5G would prevent congestion and accidents, while patients will be able to receive immediate medical care remotely.

“I call on the cellular companies to deploy 5G sites all over the country to improve the quality of life of their customers and place Israel at the forefront of global innovation,” she said.

Fifth-generation technology is 10 times faster than widespread 4G and the ministry said rolling it out would improve Internet access in dense city centers.

It said cellular operators that share a network will be allowed to participate in the tender alone or by submitting a joint offer, but did not say how much the new frequencies would cost mobile companies.

The ministry said it will allocate advanced frequencies to mobile operators in the ultra-fast 26 GHz range “to respond to the various needs of cellular communication in Israel.”

Israel allocated three 5G frequencies – 700 MHz, 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz – in an auction in 2019 which have since been deployed by mobile operators and are all marginally profitable.

In its previous tender, heavy incentives such as government grants were be provided to cash-strapped mobile firms to participate and the amounts raised were a fraction of the hundreds of millions of euros seen in Europe.

Read the article here: Israel targets ‘smart’ cities with new 5G mobile auction

What an AI-powered World Cup obscures

Viai News

November 21, 2022

Things with which this World Cup is laden so far: Geopolitical intrigue and controversy. Messy soccer-world drama. Improbable first-half England goals.

And, of course: A slate of hyped-up artificial intelligence applications.

Wait, what?

FIFA is touting an AI-powered decision-making system that will use sensors in the actual soccer ball to help determine calls. A vast network of facial recognition-enabled cameras will track the crowd, with technology in the same family as that deployed by the controversial firm Clearview AI. AI-powered sensors in the stadiums will even help control the climate.

Which all sounds very cool. But it also raises the question — is all that really “AI”? And if it is, how is it possible that the same technology is powering such a disparate slate of applications, not to mention generating surreal art, or prefab legal documents?

In one sense, the AI hype around this World Cup is just a marketing push by the host country and organization. Qatar prides itself on having used its (relatively) newfound natural-gas fortune to power it into the ranks of other wealthy gulf states like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and FIFA has aggressively played up its high-tech additions to the game.

This buzzy invocation of AI is the flip side of the anxiety that has been rising around the technology among industry watchdogs. Both ways of thinking about AI tend to conflate different issues into one big topic. And they all both point to a larger question: How is the public supposed to think about AI?

One reason that matters, a lot, right now: Politics have finally discovered AI. The Biden administration is attempting to nudge the field toward its preferred values and practices with the AI Bill of Rights. Europe is doing the same, but with statutory teeth. Governments are moving to regulate AI at a pace that’s slower than the technology itself is developing, but faster than the layperson’s understanding of it. That poses a political problem, as the marketing “wow factor” around AI increasingly obscures how it actually works and impacts our lives, leaving the public relatively clueless in the face of the regulatory decisions being made.

“If the yellow first-down line in football appeared today rather than in 1998, they’d say it was generated by AI,” said Ben Recht, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley who has written extensively on AI and machine learning. “AI has become nothing more than a marketing term to mean ‘things we do automatically with computers.’”

The history of what artificial intelligence actually is might be beyond the scope of this afternoon newsletter. The mathematics and computing historian Stephanie Dick described the term’s long semantic drift in a 2019 essay for the Harvard Data Science Review that focused on the field’s roots in computer-powered attempts to model human intelligence. As the field drifted away from that effort and toward powerful machine-learning systems like those that power DALL-E or GPT-3, the initial branding has stuck, obscuring those systems’ actual functions behind a fog of hype and sci-fi speculation about sentient machines or human-like “general artificial intelligence.”

We’ve now come to use AI as a basket term for, as computer scientist Louis Rosenberg put it when I talked to him, “processing massive datasets, finding patterns in those datasets, and then using those patterns to make predictions or draw insights.”

When you put it that way, AI’s application to a soccer ball or an AC system is (slightly) demystified. But that only scratches the surface of how those machine-learning systems are insinuating themselves into our lives. The policy discourse around AI right now focuses on much more high-stakes issues like systemic bias creeping into decision-making systems, or unchecked facial-recognition surveillance like that being deployed in Qatar right now, or data harvesting without consent.

Those are the kinds of issues that show up in the Biden administration’s new AI policy, but there’s still a massive gulf in understanding between policymakers and the public on the issue. A Stanford report written last year noted that “accurate scientific communication has not engaged a sufficiently broad range of publics in gaining a realistic understanding of AI’s limitations, strengths, social risks, and benefits,” and that “Given the historical boom/bust pattern in public support for AI, it is important that the AI community not overhype specific approaches or products and create unrealistic expectations” — a dynamic likely not helped by the World Cup hype machine.

And while guidelines like the Biden administration’s might be useful, they’re still… just guidelines. There are still few, if any, laws in place to prevent the kind of AI-induced harms that might be perpetuated under the radar amid a general haze of curiosity and misunderstanding — which makes public understanding of the tech far more important than one might at first think.

“First, AI isn’t some form of magic and, second, that we aren’t on a predetermined path with regard to where the technology is headed and what we do with it,” Maximilian Gahntz, senior policy researcher at the Mozilla Foundation, told me. “As consumers, people get to vote with their feet if they have the necessary information to make informed choices about products and services that use AI. And as voters, people can push for tech companies and those deploying AI to be held accountable.”

Read the article here: What an AI-powered World Cup obscures

The OCC is opening a new office for fintech

Viai News

October 31, 2022

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is launching a new Office of Financial Technology early next year in response to the growth of fintech, the agency said Thursday.

The new office will “build on and incorporate” the Office of Innovation, which the agency started in 2016.

“Financial technology is changing rapidly, and bank-fintech partnerships are likely to continue growing in number and complexity,” said Michael Hsu, acting comptroller of the currency. “To ensure that the federal banking system is safe, sound, and fair today and well into the future, we need to have a deep understanding of financial technology and the financial technology landscape. The establishment of this office will enable us to be more agile and to promote responsible innovation, consistent with our mission.”

Some progressive senators have been urging the OCC to change its previous guidance, which gives chartered banks the ability to provide crypto custody, hold cash reserves backing stablecoins, and use blockchain and stablecoins to verify bank-to-bank payments. The senators say that the guidance exposes banks to “unnecessary risk.”

Meanwhile, more Wall Street firms and large banks are moving further into the use of cryptocurrencies.

Read the article here: The OCC is opening a new office for fintech

Can smart streetlights kick-start smart city progress? Yes, they can.

Viai News

September 22, 2022

Besides saving energy and reducing costs, smart street lighting can provide a backbone for innovative and cutting-edge IoT city deployments.

Local governments are interested in smart city deployments and growth; the SmartAmerica Growth challenge estimates that local administrations will invest more than $40 trillion over the next two decades in internet-of-things technology for smart cities. And cities like New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Seattle are already heavily invested in smart city programs that focus on waste management, community engagement and reducing energy costs.

With the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act last year making more than $600 billion available for programs that touch smart city initiatives like smart traffic sensors, cities must be mindful of initial investments that will help other programs grow over time. One of the best places to start could easily be overlooked: smart street lighting.

Smart street lighting might seem like an aging topic, but it can be a backbone for innovative and cutting-edge IoT city deployments. Here’s how switching on the lights can help pave the way for more advanced programs.

Furthering smart cities

Connected lights help smart cities better manage their energy use and keep costs low, while also helping improve citizen safety. Between 2017 and 2022, research shows the implementation of street light use cases has grown from 61% to 72% and is expected to continue growing.

By using the right technology, cities can leverage the ubiquitous outdoor wireless communications infrastructure needed to support IoT street lighting initiatives to deploy a range of other IoT applications such as environmental monitoring or smart traffic sensors.

As a first step, planners could enable remote monitoring of lighting controls based on whether pedestrians or cyclists are in the area, or whether parts of the city, such as tunnels or bridges, need illuminating. Once the network and infrastructure are in place, other applications and services can share the same communications infrastructure, therefore reducing the overall costs of the IoT network infrastructure.

Recent research indicates that ever more IT decision makers are using IoT initiatives, like street lighting, to gain a competitive advantage (up to 29% from 20% in 2017). Cities can stand out among their counterparts by prioritizing IoT progress, and they can also appeal to more potential residents looking for a safer, more environmentally friendly place to buy or rent a home.

An international example

The City of London — or the Square Mile — is the historic financial district of the larger area widely known as London. The City of London has just 9,400 permanent residents — but up to 1 million people at peak times — and shows the impact that IoT street lighting can have on a community. The City has a goal to take control of its rising energy costs, lower energy use and improve public safety by replacing its outdated lighting system (around 12,000 lights). Specifically, the focus was on lighting streets, walkways, landmarks, bridges and tunnels.

While the project is young, it’s already saved around 80,000 kWh over the past financial year and has laid the groundwork for other smart functionality, including monitoring life preservers and environmental sensors on the Thames and other sensors as part of a zero-emissions pilot program. It started with a straightforward upgrade of aging streetlights and the foresight to base the network on a scalable communications technology, showing just how powerful this piece of the smart city puzzle can be in furthering progress.

Cutting down costs and saving energy

Because governments always keep an eye on their budgets and look for ways to reduce expenses, implementing smart street lights can go a long way in driving down energy bills and keeping them low. Case in point: Intelligent Energy Europe actually found that an obsolete lighting system could account for as much as 50% of a typical city’s entire energy bill.

Putting connected street lights in place improves efficiency and reduces energy consumption, therefore lowering costs. Additionally, they require less upkeep than traditional lighting, making them a smarter, more cost-efficient investment for the long-term.

The environmental and business cases are clear for starting the transition toward becoming a smart city by implementing connected street lights. If cities are looking for a way to fast-track energy and cost savings and IoT progress need look no further.

Read the article here: Can smart streetlights kick-start smart city progress? Yes, they can.

Manufacturers are embracing the ESG imperative - now they must find the technology to bring it to life

Viai News

August 31, 2022

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance has become an increasing focus for investors and corporate boards alike – but it wasn’t always this way.

A recent report from Natixis Investment Managers found that back in 2014, 48% of institutional investors said ESG approaches were more about window dressing than making a difference. That’s all changed – and so have the expectations of enterprise software customers, as sustainability is now an important part of the selection criteria for technology buyers. We are in the era of ESG as an imperative.

The ESG imperative has been brought to the forefront by geopolitical conflicts, the COVID-19 pandemic, global supply chain pressure and climate change. Enterprise vendors need their CEOs to establish a strong ESG foundation, with ambitious future targets, as CEO Darren Roos notes in the latest ESG Sustainability Report from IFS:

Now more than ever, there must be a global focus on building a brighter future for the next generation, and the imperative for businesses and institutions to lead from the front is greater than at any other point in history.

The manufacturing industry has a critical role to play in the sustainability movement. While technology will always be part of the solution, ultimately the goal is change.

Vendors, customers and suppliers are looking for ways to make changes in a meaningful but manageable and sustainable way. There are several ways that companies can drive change and achieve a culture of sustainability:

Choose the right business applications that support your long-term sustainability requirements

Executive teams need business applications that satisfy ESG-related demands well beyond compliance – to enable them to exceed their sustainability goals. Decision makers should look for capabilities to make certain they’re prepared to measure and manage not just by financial value, but environmental and social impact. In addition to ESG reporting, key sustainability enablers to consider include:

  • Artificial intelligence. Managing cost, revenue and the environmental impacts of product, services or operations can rapidly become a complex scenario. AI can help here, for example, by optimising the scheduling and routes of field service technicians to decrease the number of miles driven or reduce fuel consumption.
  • Circularity. Management of a circular product lifecycle to minimize waste should not only encompass data needed to manufacture a product, but also include a carefully constructed plan for decisions and costs associated with reuse, recycling, reverse logistics, remanufacturing, lifecycle extension or disposal.
  • Consider the whole business. Too often, a company will simply implement an ERP system’s financial module, but sustainability requirements mean they also need to consider the supply chain and HR modules to document sourcing and labour practices in an auditable environment
  • Carbon footprint. To calculate carbon emissions, businesses need activity data such as fuel, electricity, transport, water, waste and refrigerant gases. Calculating this in Excel is still very common; driving the need for tech-driven solutions to reduce time spent collecting activity data.

Help customers and partners to be more sustainable and deliver more sustainable products 

Technology providers need to recognise the urgency of the move manufacturers are making to achieve more sustainable operations, and the specific value sustainability can deliver.

Demonstrating the potential value technology solutions will bring, and how vendors can advance manufacturers’ sustainability goals, comes next. Often, it works to start small with a clearly defined goal and build on that over time. The key is to identify your material ESG topics and develop a focused strategy. Often in manufacturing prioritized focus is on areas where sustainable manufacturing can have a big impact.

We’ve seen numerous examples of how technology solutions delivered by providers that share their customers’ vision of sustainability can yield compelling value. For example, IFS has played a vital role in realizing Rolls-Royce’s ‘Intelligent Engine’ vision. The Blue Data Thread enabled by the partnership between Rolls-Royce and IFS provides the data connectivity between airline and Rolls-Royce that allows businesses to significantly increase the time between engine overhauls and therefore reduce emissions.

Silvermill Group has also reaped benefits including the ability to control factors such as electricity and water, cut down on wastage and be more environmentally efficient.

Continuously influence change through transparency

Delivering on sustainability can’t just be a ‘once and done thing’. Manufacturers need to be continuously focusing on sustainability efforts not only across their business but also the extended supply chain to make a meaningful impact.

Naturally, the technology partners they choose need to be onboard with that journey to facilitate the technology changes needed. There has to be two-way discussion and open, transparent, continuous engagement, so that in turn, providers can continue to deliver value.

That value shifts over time, especially as consumers and customers mature in their sustainability performance, and therefore needs to be tracked and measured. This transparency, together with a common mindset and a shared, positive vision will lead to genuine joint value creation.

It is regarded as completely normal to measure every dollar that contributes to financial performance. The same approach needs to be taken in measuring ESG performance. This may add new layers of complexity and creates new requirements for ERP. Frameworks for measuring and reporting on ESG performance are continuously evolving, , and both customers and funders are demanding “show, don’t tell” data to create credibility.

So how do we get started?

  1. Act now. Technology providers and manufacturers alike need to realise that the time for action on ESG performance and sustainability is now – and that they cannot and should not wait for government to take the lead, nor let regulations take them by surprise . While governmental consensus on ESG elements such as climate change and the environment is critically important, there is much that manufacturers and the software community can do to advance towards their sustainability goals. Starting small with a defined objective gets the journey under way.
  2. Share the process with stakeholders. To meet ESG goals, enterprise software should be accompanied by sound organizational structure and processes. A strong governance structure, and roles and responsibility with clearly defined sustainability objectives ensure performance. By communicating information clearly enterprise-wide employees are more likely to acquire the skills and knowledge required to ensure the organization reaches its goals.
  3. Assess the range of technologies (and data) needed. Sustainability doesn’t happen in a sole, peripheral technologies or data might be adopted to supplement your ERP system and bring you closer to meeting ESG goals. Consider an ecosystem approach with other solutions or external data sources as part of a composable architecture.

Manufacturers should not hold back but instead move positively forward on the path to sustainability by finding the right technology partner and creating that proactive, forward-looking team. At IFS, we have laid strong foundations to be able to achieve long-term change.

Read the article here: Manufacturers are embracing the ESG imperative – now they must find the technology to bring it to life

How Technology Can Help Bridge The Gap Between Infrastructure And Sustainability

Viai News

July 4, 2022

It’s no secret the need for sustainable and resilient infrastructure is becoming more urgent every year. In fact, industry experts predict that the world will have to invest $90 trillion in sustainable infrastructure by 2030 to truly combat climate change. However, this push for green infrastructure has proven to be a slow process. Currently, infrastructure construction and operations—more specifically, motor vehicles—account for approximately 70% of all global emissions.

To prepare ourselves, infrastructure agencies can utilize advanced digital technology to make quality, resilient and eco-friendly infrastructure practical now. With a critical eye toward climate change, technology can play a more impactful role in addressing sustainability, durability and even disaster recovery.

It can do this by not only offering innovative 21st-century, green transportation options but, more specifically, through how the infrastructure construction and maintenance industry uses materials and infuses resilient design concepts in infrastructure projects. Along with this, it can build stronger public faith and assurance that major goals are being met and funds are well spent by improving transparency. Digital technology can significantly improve and streamline project operations, as well as transform how we use data to improve the construction process.

Responsible Use Of Materials

With the recent passing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), there will be an infusion of $1.2 trillion into the nation’s infrastructure, leading to a significant increase in the number of projects and, therefore, the need for materials. Although this bill is a monumental and critical step for our country, it’s important that the construction and development of infrastructure are done efficiently, being mindful of the use of materials.

Although recycling materials is an important part of construction and demolition (C&D), it still leads to a significant amount of waste. In 2018, C&D projects generated 600 million tons of waste debris. And it’s predicted that the volume of construction waste generated worldwide will nearly double to 2.2. billion tons by the year 2025.

Currently, up to 30% of the building materials from construction sites end up as waste. To prevent this waste across infrastructure projects, transportation agencies and their partners should consider using technology to track the use of materials, ensuring their quality and minimizing waste. Real-time data directly from job sites, accessible through cloud-based solutions, can inform important decisions around materials and budget. Additionally, with this insight, mistakes can be caught early, reducing the impact on budget and lessening material waste.

Improving Climate Resilience And Disaster Recovery

In addition to the challenges of managing large-scale infrastructure projects, transportation agencies face the difficulties and destruction caused by extreme weather events. In 2021 alone, the U.S. spent approximately $145 billion on 20 separate weather and climate disaster events. Resilient infrastructure will be critical in minimizing the impacts of the increasing severity of natural disasters.

The IIJA is making a major investment in climate resilience. According to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, “Extreme weather events caused by climate change have become more severe and more frequent, causing not only danger to our communities but widespread economic impact, with the financial loss to American taxpayers from extreme weather events totaling more than $100.4 billion in 2020.”

Technology such as drones and inspection platforms can enable disaster recovery responders to survey and prioritize infrastructure impacted by catastrophes more efficiently. It could also play a critical role in developing and maintaining infrastructure that’s more likely to withstand natural events and ensure longevity through routine maintenance.

Digital twins are another innovative technology that can be used to create an exact replica of a project during its construction. A digital twin can also continue to be updated throughout its lifecycle. This allows maintenance crews to easily track damages and necessary repairs, helping ensure structural safety and longevity.

Enabling Data-Driven Transparency

The IIJA has set ambitious climate-focused goals, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring the resiliency of our infrastructure and creating clean public transportation systems. But with years of projects ahead, trillions in funding and countless partners, how can the public be sure the goals of the bill are being achieved?

It’s not uncommon for many projects to still be managed and tracked on pen and paper. This industry has “lagged behind other industries in embracing digital technology to improve operations and realise efficiencies.” But the consistent capture of data from job sites and tracking of decisions throughout the construction process can help create unprecedented transparency and accountability. And with transparency and accountability, stakeholder confidence follows.

As top-performing organizations are now deploying and embracing tools to increase productivity, improve efficiency and safety and reduce costs on major capital projects, they can also use them to track their progress against the IIJA’s goals. Consistent and reliable reporting can help confirm infrastructure is constructed safely, efficiently and in a manner that tracks with the IIJA’s broader goals.

The Climate Is Right

The infrastructure industry is in a unique position to act on sustainability initiatives with the power of leading-edge and innovative technology to monitor and address materials longevity, infuse and maintain resilient design principles throughout all project phases and build data transparency and stronger public perception that tax dollars are being well spent. Doing so can help assure a brighter future and ensure that the longevity of the nation’s infrastructure will be based on efficiencies and tools that avoid wasting dollars, time and materials.

Read the article here: How Technology Can Help Bridge The Gap Between Infrastructure And Sustainability

What is Science, Technology, and Infrastructure Policy?

Viai News

June 16, 2022

Building strong communities and improving quality of life are just two of the many reasons passionate individuals chose to pursue careers in public service or public affairs.

Working in public affairs is fulfilling and rewarding work, yet when considering a career in public affairs, there are many different avenues one can choose to pursue. This broad discipline can be applied to a wide range of careers in public service, including many important fields that may not immediately come to mind. One of these critical areas is infrastructure policy, which is the design, development, and regulation of the physical systems that make up the building blocks of a community.

Science, technology, and infrastructure are important elements that play a pivotal role in health and human safety, and the policies that dictate their use and efficiency go a long way in improving the overall quality of life for members of society.

Let’s take a closer look at the areas of science, technology, and infrastructure policy.

What is science, technology, and infrastructure policy?

Infrastructure is the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of society, including buildings, parks, and power grids, along with water, sewer, transportation, safety, and communication systems.

Science, technology and infrastructure policy is the development of designs, policies, regulations that ensure safe, strong, and adaptive systems of infrastructure. These structures are vital to a society’s functioning, economic development, and prosperity, and the science and technology that goes into establishing and securing these systems is regularly advancing and developing new and innovative solutions to existing problems.

Why is science, technology, and infrastructure policy important?

Even as the world becomes more digital, our reliance on physical infrastructure grows. There is a direct link between the physical structures that connect our societies and the growing digital structures that connect us virtually. In fact, the digital technologies making our physical world smarter are themselves dependent on physical systems. For example, the infrastructure of the internet is reliant on physical servers and hard drives, cables, and satellites. The internet, in return, has allowed us to make safer, stronger, and more adaptive physical infrastructure systems.

There are many ways in which infrastructure helps connect and improve communities — here are just a few:

  • Electrical systems need to handle the growing number of devices in our homes and businesses.
  • Agricultural systems need to produce adequate food supplies.
  • Transportation systems need to keep up with the surge in global shipping and delivery services.
  • Water systems need to provide populations with clean, drinkable water.
  • Communication systems need to reach even the most remote locations.

Simply put, strong physical infrastructure is essential for the advancement of society. To continue building strong communities, we need mission-driven leaders who understand current trends and regulations and can implement the policies needed to ensure sound systems of infrastructure.

Read the article here: What is Science, Technology, and Infrastructure Policy?

What Is The Metaverse And Why Should You Care?

Viai News

May 14, 2022

As veteran technology writer Eric Ravenscraft wrote in Wired several weeks ago, “It’s been … months since Facebook announced it was rebranding to Meta and would focus its future on the upcoming ‘Metaverse.’ In the time since, what that term means hasn’t gotten any clearer.”

On the assumption that the “Metaverse” will likely influence our lives in many ways, some of them currently unfathomable, in the years ahead—and that many of you also are mystified by this and other developments in the tech world—I recently sat down with one of my favorite techies, Kristi Woolsey, an associate director at BCG Platinion, to find out more.

What I love about Woolsey is that she speaks in plain, easy-to-understand English, avoiding ‘technobabble’ as much as possible.

Here’s some of what she said:

Q: What is the Metaverse?

“The term Metaverse is used to describe a combination of the virtual reality and mixed reality worlds accessed through a browser or headset, which allows people to have real time interactions and experiences across distance.

“Right now, what will become the Metaverse is actually a series of disconnected metaverses, like the ‘walled gardens’ of the early internet [,, or] that eventually came together to form the internet as we know it today. The current set of metaverse worlds each has its own access, avatars, interactions, and currency. Fortnite, for example, is separate from Roblox, which is separate from Decentraland and others.

“… The current increase in attention to the Metaverse is partly driven by the very recent ability to fully ‘own’ virtual objects, experiences, or land. Blockchain, the ‘crypto finance hub,’ makes it possible to precisely define a virtual thing so it can be bought and sold. There are entire metaverse worlds based on this new economy. Decentraland and Sandbox, for example, are both metaverse worlds that sell virtual land to businesses that build virtual buildings. Sotheby’s, the nearly 300-year-old auction house, has a building in Decentraland that your avatar can walk around and view what is being auctioned. Republic Realm, a company that develops land in the Metaverse, recently paid $4.3 million for a piece of virtual land in the metaverse-world Sandbox.

“If paying real money to own virtual land sounds a bit crazy, remember when most of us thought that purchasing domain names was crazy. But then, suddenly, it wasn’t crazy … [and many] people made a lot of money selling coveted domain names.”

Q: Why should leaders care?

“If you’re trying to reach an audience of 15-30-year-olds they’re probably not on the internet or on social media any more, they’re probably in the Metaverse.

Nikeland, a place to hang out, play, and dress your avatar in virtual Nike products, opened in Roblox last year. By early this year, nearly seven million people had visited Nikeland. In 2020, 12.3 million people attended a single virtual concert by rapper Travis Scott, hosted in Fortnite. When you watch the video of that concert (available online), you realize after a short while that the dancing figures … were all real people, connecting from locations around the world.

“There are things you can do in virtual reality and augmented reality that you just can’t do in real life across distance. You can mimic being together in ways that aren’t possible over Zoom. You can point to something to explain, use hand gestures (in some platforms), draw on a piece of paper, go places together. Think about the incredible possibilities, such as a collaboration between surgeons, or creating a clay model for a new-car design. These and all sorts of other collaborative activities are all easy in the right metaverse world, which eliminates the impediment of distance.

“For organizations, a virtual or hybrid meeting feels as close as you can get to being together in a room. Of course, it’s not the same as in person, but it’s second best. My team is set up to have collaborative meetings this way. And when we need a work break, we have 15-minute one-on-one get togethers to play virtual ping pong with colleagues from all over the world. It’s the virtual equivalent of an office coffee break; it creates a real connection and builds social bonds.”

Q: When is it coming?

Within a couple of years, we’ll see “massive adoption and uptake,” she predicted. “It’s just a matter of time.”

Q: What should leaders do about it right now?

Organizations, Woolsey said, need to consider three metaverse categories:

1) Customer or consumer facing. “If your target market is 15-30-year-olds you need to be there. You need to deliver an experience that engages your audience and is consistent with your brand. You could build a store that sells virtual goods or connects to your e-commerce offerings, or you might choose to deliver an event or other type of engagement.”

2) Employee facing. “Metaverse experiences are perfect for hybrid meetings, multi-location training programs, and institutional events. Any time you have a team that is dispersed, there are opportunities to use this technology to bring them together, building community, affiliation and engagement.”

3) Internal operations. “Metaverse technology can be used to explore industrial or operational scenarios that would be far too expensive to build in real life. Auto companies already are designing in ‘digital twins,’ doing their first dummy crash test in a metaverse world, and collaborating on model modifications in augmented reality.”

Q: How do businesses get started?

“Don’t do Metaverse for the sake of doing Metaverse,” Woolsey cautioned. “Think through carefully where you are most likely to find value in each of the three categories I described. Go there now and experiment. Start small and test with your intended audience so you can understand the actual value both qualitatively and quantitatively. Based on what you learn, find the path that delivers strategic value and plan to scale.”

The ability to create value through the Metaverse needs to be one of many tools available to your organization to meet its strategic goals.

Good luck … and see you there! Or my avatar will see your avatar. Or, Whatever!

Read the article here: What Is The Metaverse And Why Should You Care?