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City 2.0: Using Tech Building Blocks in Tomorrow's Urban Centers

By Computerworld

May 18, 2009

Ubiquitous wireless networks, sustainable data centers, the development of the smart energy grid, and the commonality of city-supplied social networks are bringing the dream of City 2.0 closer to fruition, with the next step being the melding of all these services. WiMax is seen as a key tool for effecting ubiquitous urban wireless service because it provides greater bandwidth for city services, says Intel's Tim Sweeney. Sustainable data centers are expected to help cities realize significant energy savings and facilitate the use of data centers for most city services, forming a massive network of networks that watchdogs real-time power, water, wireless, and data usage for all citizens. The smart grid is oriented around the concept of using electricity when it is available cheaply rather than at peak times, and it permits the integration of wind, solar, and other renewable sources into the energy grid.

A few U.S. cities are engaged in pilot programs that allow customers to view their real-time energy usage at a Web site. Dublin, Ohio, has implemented a portal where government officials can run blogs, converse via instant messaging, and exchange documents. During the next few months, the city plans to make the private network available to the citizenry, and in a City 2.0 scenario such a system could enable residents to present ideas for city improvements, talk with politicians, and blog about their neighborhood over a secure portal that ministers to their local needs.

Cloud computing could be an important tool in combining all these various services, and Yankee Group analyst Jeffrey Breen predicts that "one way or another, we will get to the point in cities where anyone who wants high-speed access will get it — and the city won't have to worry about the details of how."

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