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How Cities Use HPC at the Edge to Get Smarter

Speaking at SC17 in Denver this week, a panel of smart city practitioners shared the strategies, techniques and technologies they use to understand their cities better and to improve the lives of their residents. With data coming in from all over the urban landscape and worked over by machine learning algorithms, Debra Lam, managing director for smart cities & inclusive innovation at Georgia Tech who works on strategies for Atlanta and the surrounding area, said “we’ve embedded research and development into city operations, we’ve formed a match making exercise between the needs of the city coupled with the most advanced research techniques.”

Panel moderator Charlie Cattlett, director, urban center for computation & data Argonne National Laboratory who works on smart city strategies for Chicago, said that the scale of data involved in complex, long-term modeling will require nothing less than the most powerful supercomputers, including the next generation of exascale systems under development within the Department of Energy. The vision for exascale, he said, is to build “a framework for different computation models to be coupled together in multiple scales to look at long-range forecasting for cities.”

Citizen devices tracking Chicago's pollution hot spots

Researchers at the Urban Center for Computation and Data, an initiative by the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, have developed equipment that is being posted on light poles around the city to provide granular details about air quality, traffic, sound volume and temperature.

After working out glitches with the electronics and redesigning protective enclosures for the devices, dubbed the Array of Things, the scientists are planning to have 500 monitors up and running by the end of next year.

Charlie Catlett, a data scientist who directs the project, said the goal is to provide researchers and the public with new kinds of data that can be used to improve quality of life. The latest version of the monitors is designed to make it easier to add new technology as the field improves and expands.

Commentary: Invest in smart technology for a smarter city

At Lane Tech High School over the past year, more than 150 students accessed real-time data from some 500 sensors in order to learn about problem solving, design, measurement, data analysis, the scientific process and teamwork. Thanks to the “Array of Things” — a partnership of private-sector leaders, the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory — there is great hope that this program will continue at Lane Tech and even expand throughout Chicago.

Let’s consider what would happen if that expansion were sped up. What if tomorrow Chicago’s approximately 500,000 students all had access to such a program? What if there were a million or more sensors involved in collecting data that could be used to address a wide array of civic challenges? How could children on the West Side conduct experiments with sensors from schools on the lakefront through a connected network? Where would data be stored, secured and shared so that residents anywhere in the city could participate in creating solutions? What kinds of dashboards could be created to share the findings?

Richardson physics professor hoping to create the Google Maps of air pollution

Source: Jeff Mosier, The Scoop Blog

Google Maps help drivers steer clear of traffic jams. A Richardson physics professor is leading an ambitious project to steer people clear of treacherous air. David Lary's, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, project includes plans to install wireless sensors that will feed air quality data to a network of computers. Software will then analyze the information, generate air quality maps and show the clearest routes.

This effort is using some of the technology created for the Array of Things project operated by the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory. The lone string attached is that Lary and others who use the technology must make the data available to the public.

Obama Places $160 Million Bet on Smart Cities, Internet of Things

Source: Ben Miller, Government Technology

Public-sector participants see the White House's initiative as a means of accelerating investment and interest in building smart cities and the Internet of Things.

The movement to connect everything to everything else just got a big supporter: the White House.

Obama pledges $160M to develop 'Smart Cities' apps

Source: Marguerite Reardon, CNet

The Obama administration announced Monday it will invest more than $160 million in a new "Smart Cities" Initiative to build apps aimed at helping improve the quality of life in local communities.

Among the initiative's goals are helping local communities tackle key challenge such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate, and improving the delivery of city services. As part of the initiative, the National Science Foundation will make more than $35 million in new grants and the National Institute of Standards and Technology will invest more than $10 million to help build a research infrastructure to develop applications and technology that "smart cities" can use.

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A federal full-court press for smart cities IT

Source: GCN Staff, GCN

The Obama Administration has launched a broad smart cities campaign, announcing $160 million in federal funding and more than 25 new public-private collaborations to help local communities use emerging technologies to reduce traffic congestion, fight crime, foster economic growth and improve the delivery of city services.

Programs and funding were announced on Sept. 14, and involve federal agencies, cities, universities, industry and cross-sector community collaborations.  The efforts were also showcased at a Sept. 14 "White House Smart Cities Forum" in Washington, D.C.

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Sidewalk Labs, a Start-Up Created by Google, Has Bold Aims to Improve City Living

Source: Steve Lohr, New York Times

Google’s ambitions and investments have increasingly broadened beyond its digital origins in Internet search and online advertising into the arena of physical objects: self-driving cars, Internet-connected eyeglasses, smart thermostats and a biotech venture to develop life-extending treatments.

Now Google is getting into the ultimate manifestation of the messy real world: cities.

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Next Generation Supercomputing Developments Swarm Around Cities

Source: Nages Sieslack, The Platform

The InfiniCortex project aims to create a global InfiniBand fabric to connect supercomputers across continents for these tasks and already has nodes in Singapore, Australia, Japan, USA and Poland. The network is expected to include several new partners in Europe and circumnavigate the globe by the end of 2015.

Dr Marek T. Michalewicz, the Chief Executive Officer of A*STAR Computational Resource Centre in Singapore will be overseeing a public presentation on the topic, called “Understanding Urban Development through HPC” on July 13 at the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, but we thought it would be useful to glean more information about the project in advance.

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New sensor array changes the data collection game

Source: Justin H.S. Breaux, Argonne National Laboratory

As urban populations increase, so too does the complexity involved in maintaining basic services like clean water and emergency services.  But one of the biggest barriers to making cities “smarter”—for example, comprehensively monitoring sources of waterway pollutants in real time—is quick and easy access to data.

Future scenarios like these depend on technology not yet widely available.  Future “smart” cities would have to feature hundreds, maybe thousands, of strategically placed sensors. These devices would record everything from air pressure and temperature to microbial content, and the data would be relayed instantly to the laptops of people who can make decisions based on what they are seeing.

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