MAKING A CITY SMARTER
Peña Station NEXT will translate many ideas from Japan’s Fujisawa smart city. But there are many technologies working to help us be more efficient. A few in progress:
Solar panels on homes, carports and every surface will provide energy for the community. Solar-powered street lights and LED lighting throughout buildings and streets will also cut down on energy use. While fuel cells at every house is too expensive for the Peña Station project, plans to use solar panels and batteries for a round-the-clock energy source are being tested.
Cameras and sensors attached to light poles will act as neighborhood watch and help with snow removal and traffic management, such as alerting drivers to open parking spots. Panasonic, which has a large aviation business, already collects weather data by attaching equipment on airplanes. That information can provide “hyper accurate forecasts that it’s going to warm up in the morning so you don’t need as much salt on the roads tonight,” Doyle said.
Fujisawa SST has 50 surveillance cameras that act as a neighborhood watch and monitors children and others “in an unobtrusive manner,” according to the town’s site. Facial recognition could also one day better track who should be in the community and who shouldn’t. With America’s concern for privacy, this feature may not be as intense.
Step on a smart scale or use a smart blood-pressure monitor and your health care provider can remotely check on your health. Beds can analyze sleep patterns and let you know if you’re snoring. Peña Station, like Fujisawa, plans to build a central wellness facility to educate and encourage residents. Panasonic also hopes to roll out its remote health care technology to serve patients in their homes if they can’t make it to the doctor’s office.
Mobile apps already help us check for hot restaurants or nearby sales. With access to a person’s behavior and needs, a smarter app could use that data to make suggestions— and directions— based on budget and tastes and suggest a restaurant in your price range. Photos courtesy of Panasonic