While the need for cities to engage the right solution partners has always been critical, it is particularly relevant now as more cities turn to emerging smart technologies to tackle municipal challenges. To ensure safe and effective smart technology deployment, solution partners must immerse themselves in local issues and design custom solutions that meet the needs of cities and their citizens.
Comcast has done just that in the City of College Park, Georgia. Building on College Park's strategic goals of Economic Empowerment, Quality of Life, Transportation and Mobility, Public Safety and Security, and Governance and Customer Service, Comcast continues to create custom-tailored solutions which have brought the City closer to its ultimate objectives.
In 2019, as part of a campaign to revitalize its commercial district and support local small businesses, the City hosted events and implemented incentives to drive foot traffic along Main Street. These efforts were so successful that the elevated activity led to increased trash and, ultimately, overflowing waste receptacles. So while the campaign led to economic empowerment for College Park's local small businesses, it also compromised quality of life in the City.
The City turned to Comcast for a solution. In close partnership with College Park officials, Comcast installed smart sensors and the MachineQ network connectivity platform for LoRaWAN® to alert the municipality when trash bins are at 60% - 70% capacity. These sensors have had an immense impact on the City's ability to manage trash collection efficiently and effectively, and in turn, improve quality of life for its citizens and the business community.
After a successful first engagement, College Park entrusted Comcast to drive its other strategic goals through additional smart city deployments. The first, designing a public Wi-Fi solution that would not only connect its citizens but also support future smart city deployments. And as the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to derail College Park's downtown revitalization efforts, the City once again turned to Comcast to create a solution that would use data and analytics to provide a safer environment for pedestrians and outdoor diners.
In response, Comcast devised and implemented a solution that utilizes existing traffic cameras and the MachineQ platform to analyze anonymized data for pedestrian counting and crowd flow management. The data is processed on the edge, meaning that all visuals from the cameras are near-instantly deleted. Edge processing ensures that personal identifiable data cannot be collected nor transmitted.
The number of pedestrians is the only transmitted data. College Park has used this anonymized data to inform businesses of foot traffic patterns to enable better decision-making. In doing so, they support the local economy while still maintaining public safety. Although the technology in place is currently used for pandemic-era challenges, College Park is poised for future success. The solution can also provide traffic analytics, parking space occupancy and utilization statistics, and near-miss detection.
Comcast employs a problem-driven solution approach in all of its smart city engagements. As College Park's Chief Information Officer, Michael Hicks, explained, "One of the first things was [Comcast] looked at our strategic goals and objectives, and built the technology around those strategic goals and objectives, and that made the whole conversation attractive."
This approach is more efficient in addressing the unique needs of municipalities like College Park and enabling cities to make informed data-driven decisions.
Comcast and the City of College Park are looking towards the future through long-term initiatives to build upon the IoT infrastructure in place. The MachineQ platform for LoRaWAN®, which is currently used for the waste management solution, opens the door for smart parking, traffic signals, curb management, near-miss detection, and self-service devices: all solutions which will further College Park's strategic goals.
Mr. Hicks recently summed up College Park's work with Comcast by telling a smart cities panel, "I've gone from having a vendor to having a strategic partner."