Advanced Fiber Networks Power Air Quality Solutions in Utah
You’ve heard of Silicon Valley, but do you know about the “Silicon Slopes?”
In recent years, Utah’s tech scene has boomed, bringing about next-generation technology and housing the country’s largest open-access fiber network.
“I think Utah is very well positioned to be a leader in the smart city community because we’ve got so much tech in Utah right now,” said Peter Jay, the community leader for Utah Ignite. “We have UTOPIA, the largest open-access fiber network, and we realized that there was an opportunity to bring Utah into the IoT, smart city community.”
Jay has been instrumental in getting Utah Ignite, one of US Ignite’s Smart Gigabit Communities (SGC), off of the ground. He’s helped solidify the partnership between the Lehi Area Chamber of Commerce and US Ignite that supports Utah Ignite, and built up the IoT community that thrives in Utah today.
Just this year, Salt Lake City was named one of two large-scale testbeds for smart city and 5G technologies, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a consortium of wireless industry companies under the Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) program. For Utah Ignite, being in a community that is now a testbed site is the perfect opportunity to engage developers and encourage them to use its infrastructure as a platform for developing, testing, and deploying smart city and IoT sensors.
But aside from being a tech hub, there are concentrated efforts happening on the ground to bring innovative solutions to some of the state’s most pressing challenges, specifically its air quality issues.
“Air quality is one of our biggest quality of life concerns here,” said Dr. Kerry Kelly, a researcher at the University of Utah and past Chair of the Utah Air Quality Policy Board. “We periodically are ranked as having the worst air quality in the nation and that’s because we are surrounded by mountains.”
Utah Ignite is in the midst of collecting pitches from an air quality reverse pitch held in April 2018. Participants were tasked with helping develop a solution to Utah’s air quality monitoring and management issues in real time with gigabit speed technologies. The winners of the pitch will work with Utah Ignite and UTOPIA to put air quality sensors on the fiber network. UTOPIA already has installed in 20 cities across the state. In addition, the Utah Ignite challenge will develop new dynamic visualizations of the microclimates of pollution along the Wasatch front to allow better identification of pollution sources and dispersion factors.
For Kelly, this type of initiative can offer both societal and environmental benefits across Utah.
“I’m hoping that in general we have a better-informed community, that it helps people take more ownership of air quality,” she said. “Air quality is all of our concern. We all live here and we all breathe the same air, so I’m hoping it’s going to promote more thought about air quality as individuals and communities and businesses make decisions about where to locate, even what type of transportation systems to invest in, what type of planning to engage in.”
When researchers, community organizers, and citizens come together to create solutions to a large-scale problem, they create new opportunities for innovation. Utah Ignite is a demonstration that this approach can help solve even the most vexatious problems.
- Local cloud / edge computing
- Advanced wireless
- Ultra-fast/Gigabit to end-user
- Data Visualization