With anytime, anywhere, any place broadband connectivity at the heart of the emerging digital lifestyle, broadband ecosystem participants across the value chain see big business opportunities in helping the “smart cities” concept move forward. Alcatel-Lucent, having partnered with Erin L. Henry of Harvard Business School’s PhD Program in Organizational Behavior and Sociology, outlines three Chattanooga residents understanding and awareness of and thoughts about living in such a place.

Entitled, “Top ten reasons why people like living in a smart city,” Alcatel-Lucent has helped Chattanooga’s local utility, EPB, build out the “fastest and largest 1 gigabit (Gb) network” in the U.S. A smart city, the three agreed, “… is one that shares a culture and passion for collaboration. It celebrates differences and sets aside personal agendas for the greater good of the city,” Alcatel-Lucent’s Debbie Fisher relates in the blog post. “Moreover, a smart city respects the fact that technology is an enabler which touches the lives of its citizens in many ways.”

The three Chattanooga residents’ interviews are among the many that Alcatel-Lucent has helped Henry compile. They’ve sifted through and selected what they have deemed are the “Top Ten Stories of the People Living in the Smart City of Chattanooga.” Here they are:

#10 – A LEED-conscious architect who can imagine a host of new energy development applications and businesses creating more sustainable architectural designs and proving the value of eco-sustainable living.

#9 – A partner in a marketing services firm described a “life” rating system which would reward people who acted smart by changing their energy consumption to use power at off-peak hours, being more aware of their consumption, and by using real-time energy data to change behaviors.

#8 – A small business owner who recently relocated to Chattanooga — after living in Silicon Valley and Phoenix — to launch his education-based cloud services firm. He expects the gig and M2M technology to revolutionize the home entertainment industry. He goes on to suggest that utility and other service providers should shift their message from selling capacity to selling entertainment.

#7 – The head of the NGO leading downtown redevelopment spoke with pride of the ceremony which drew 300 people to the Spirit of Innovation Award. This award was given to a local lighting company that developed a solution leveraging the high-speed infrastructure which remotely controls the lighting of the streetlights depending on activity in the area. Now she feels a new sense of safety walking to her downtown office.

#6 – The head of the regional planning initiative who envisions a self-cleaning kitchen or the ability to make video calls (without any jittering or buffering) while enjoying a day boating on the river.

#5 – The city CIO who shared many stories of how technology had delivered numerous benefits by thinking broadly rather than in departmental silos. He cited saving over $1 million in the city’s lighting costs and 30% to 40% additional energy savings per streetlight by connecting it to the city’s wireless network to remotely dim during off-peak hours. They’ve also turned the same streetlights into rain gauges to reduce flooding and “sniffers” to identify safety threats. Smart technology has also had an immediate impact on reducing crime and the cost of fighting crime. Within the next two years, he expects between 2000 to 3000 connected devices and a continuing explosion of new services and cost reductions. That’s good news for citizens who see their tax dollars are being spent wisely while realizing a safer, greener lifestyle.

#4 – The head of the local housing authority who envisions changing the lives of residents and reducing the digital divide by drawing on the talents of application developers to invent solutions for social change.

#3 – A young mother who simply told how she’d love to hold live Internet-based, parent–teacher conferences for her 7-year-old son while her 2-year-old daughter took a nap.

#2 – A lifelong resident now heading one of the city’s leading foundations who has been at the center of nearly every story we heard by connecting people and ideas. He spoke of a firm called Global Green which set up shop in Chattanooga rather than in China because of the wireless network and support structure available to them.

#1 – The head of a local enterprise organization who wished he was 20 years younger so he could experience the incredible, positive changes that would touch the lives of all citizens of Chattanooga and the citizens across the world due to the gigabit infrastructure and ability to implement smart/M2M solutions.

Alcatel-Lucent plans to continue posting the highlights of its research partnership with Henry. “This list is only the tip of the iceberg, so watch for more blog posts on what we’re hearing from people around the globe,” Fisher wrote.


“After all, smart cities and the quality of life they deliver is extremely personal and truly experienced through the eye of the beholder. Technology will continue to impact people’s quality of life and help make cities smarter. But in the end, it is the people who realize and shape the potential of a connected society.”

Join the Conversation

4 thoughts on “How Do You Define a Smart City?

  1. Sorry, but much of this is touchy-feel-goody, quite lame and contrived. The bottom-line is that bandwidth in general costs 20x more than it should today around the US. I applaud the city's attempt to drive change where the markets (supported by ineffective and counterproductive local, state and national regulations) have failed. But Metcalfe's law says that the value of 1gig in Chattanooga goes up significantly if 1gig is available in the top 20 cities in the US. Right now, most of what was described can be done with pervasive <100meg networks. So here are the real questions: has the 1gig network disrupted the government, healthcare, education, commercial institutions, etc…? What savings have been driven into all those areas? Answering those questions would begin to justify the enormous investment.

  2. Sorry, there is nothing "smart" here.
    Unless you're a corporate shareholder trying to propagandize the public into taxing themselves into oblivion to fill Alcatel's coffers.

    1 Gig, 100 Meg, whatever speed you choose – has no impact, whatever, on creating new industry with high paying jobs. Data that needs to be transmitted, that is relevant to growth, doesn't require massive bandwidth. Are there bloated protocols that consume more? Certainly, but you don't have to use them to set up your new company.

  3. @InfoStack and @Guest – you guys would fit in quite well with all of these infamous quotes of the past:

    -"No one will need more than 637 kb of memory for a personal computer. 640K ought to be enough for anybody.”( Bill Gates )

    -“There is no need for any individual to have a computer in their home.”
    (Ken Olson, President of Digital Equipment Corp, in 1977)

    -“Radio has no future.”
    [Lord Kelvin, ca. 1897]

  4. I am a Wireless ISP with a 12 Gbps fiber circuit. My business is to provide municipal users and the larger institutions a more reliable network priced to be reliable and delivering symmetric bandwidth. This improves not only data, but the VoIP technology and video streaming that health facilities have keen interests.

    The secondary customer base is "residential" users that non-symmetric bandwidth and are more interested in getting the latest movie downloads, Facebook revelations, and enjoyment. We have seen a big shift to smart phones and tablets, et al, want everyone big Internet bandwidth so they can sell their $9/month services.

    The top end customers understand Gb bandwidths and they develop IT departments or have third party support partners sorting out their needs. The residential customers cannot afford this approach. In the early days (1985) when I first started a WISP, the number 1 people that called about what I developed were municipal cable commissions concerned about telling me what to do for the residential users. i.e., politics.

    My work today is to figure out how to tap into the residential users by establishing reliable networks that can deliver the bandwidth reliably. Realistically, this means increasing the bandwidth. I see prices increasing because the economic underlying unit is bandwidth. As people pile on more bandwidth, they should pay more. Just like watering your garden from a well, I have to make deals to get more water from somewhere.

    I cheerfully answer customer service calls because they tell me what they want the Internet to do. As a result my business has survived as an early adopter, and a willingness to work out what counts for the customers. In my case it is Cape Cod, Massachusetts and the Islands.

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