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Gigabit Fiber Is Ramping Up Albuquerque’s Smart City Initiatives

June 26, 2017

8:30 am

A Smart City can mean a lot of different things, but it boils down to transparent data, responsive infrastructure, and Internet of things (IoT) technology to manage a city’s assets. For residents of a smart city, this can lead to being more informed and access to higher tech.

In the last few years, Albuquerque has been going through some major upgrades. I sat down with Albuquerque Chief Information Officer, Peter Ambs, to find out what the city has in store for today and the future.

What do you do for the city?

As the chief CIO, under the leadership of Mayor Berry, my overall responsibility is advancing the technology for the city, from applications, enterprise resource planning (ERP), telecommunications, networks and anything Information Technology (IT) related.

With that, comes the requirement to provide for innovation and conditions to integrate innovation. I also work on increasing citizen interaction with government and improving the city with efficiencies and automation with city services.

My primary goal has been to put all of our city services online. The term we are going with today is ‘Amazon like’ – people want to interact with the city like they do with Amazon. We’re still a long way from that, but we’re working toward it. Cloud CRM tech is available to us and some great mobile applications. With these applications comes the ability to collect citizen feedback. For example, our 311 mobile app is the gateway to city services. Reporting graffiti, etc. And you receive feedback – there’s a somewhat Amazon like piece where you can see your service request in process.

We’re the use case for the sharing economy and crowdsourcing.

What projects are happening right now?

We have a mobile pay for parking and smart parking meters. We’re also working on Innovate ABQ which will be a seven-acre facility that combines entrepreneurial resources, research labs, education, and businesses to support entrepreneurship in Albuquerque.

We are also working on LED street lights with the capability to add sensors for things like air quality, cameras, occupancy sensors for parking, or wifi connections.

What’s been your favorite project?

I have both big and small projects that I’m proud of. Our biggest project I’m happy to be working on is laying down eight miles worth of Gigabit fiber on Central Avenue. Putting the fiber in the ground is a big accomplishment.

One app that I’m really happy about is the pulse point for our fire department. With the app, you receive alerts whenever a call goes into the dispatch. If you’re trained in CPR, and you’re in the vicinity, you could provide a life-saving technique prior to the first responders arrival. And that recently happened where someone provided CPR to someone in need and when fire and rescue arrived the patient was stabilized.

Back to the Broadband/Gigabit project, how will this help our infrastructure?

The reason Central Avenue is a good place to start is that we have underserved neighborhoods that don’t have any access today because they can’t afford it. This project will be a very low-cost internet access and when we can, we’ll offer it free.

In addition, we’re in a unique position with a research university, an innovation district for entrepreneurs, biomedical labs, and other important infrastructure close to this main roadway who can access this fiber project.

We are also partnering with other gigabit cities to create a platform of gigabit apps. We develop around projects, but we don’t have a platform where someone can create a gigabit app, that can, for example, control an electron microscope from the internet. We want to provide this broadband as a catalyst for digital literacy, and a community broadband kind of arrangement.

This is our direction for the future. We need to start prepping our environment for things like 5g networks, and smart cars. We’re really trying to address the robust network for smart city applications.

For more about Albuquerque's smart city initiatives, check out Learn more about smart cities.

Read more about startups emerging in Albuquerque at Tech.Co 

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AKA Author of pain, but only on the roller derby track. Off the track, I take the pain out of writing. Writer, trainer, and entrepreneur; I get small biz.