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Bosch Installs New Digital Infrastructure in the US

Peachtree Corners, a small town on the outskirts of Atlanta Georgia, has worked to transform itself into a futuristic city. It has the specific aim of becoming “the premiere testbed of autonomous mobility, smart city technology, connected city infrastructure and interaction with residents”. A key step in that direction is a recent collaboration with Bosch’s Building technologies division to install video-as-a-sensor technology. [1]

The technology Bosch is installing can make use of the 5G capabilities present in the city, pointed out by Brian Johnson, the city manager. It isn’t just the 5G capabilities that are relevant but also that this will give “Bosch a real-world showcase for their customers to come and experience their technology applied to an actual city, not just in concept.” The real-world environment most relevant for this particular digital infrastructure is traffic. Bosch’s video-as-a-sensor will provide real-time data and analytics of traffic flows and behavior to city officials, with the aim of “creating a smarter, safer, and more sustainable transportation ecosystem.” [1] For example, one likely scenario is that such intelligent infrastructure may lead up to real-time in-car indications of pedestrian movement on the road ahead, or of traffic jams or, stopped vehicles. [2] 

Technology like this depends on a synergy of other technologies, such as 5G. Cities such as Peachtree Corners that have taken significant steps towards greater digital infrastructure are thus able to offer unique proving grounds for this sort of cutting-edge technology. The hope, from the city, is that the massive amount of data such a system will produce will lead to “invaluable, actionable data in our central control center to make important decisions as we continue to improve our city into the future.” [1]

 

Personal comment

The technology is exciting and full of potential. Adding a bit of smartness to the infrastructure could have significant and long-term positive effects. Vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians may see the most significant direct effects of this intelligent infrastructure. Valuable reductions in emissions are also a potential if traffic flow and congestion can be minimized. It is essential that large scale, real-world, testbeds like this can move advanced technology from simulation and prototype to actual use and integration. A small note of caution should also be sounded. Technological advance is not always synonymous with social advance, and a technologically more complicated city is not always equatable to a smarter city. These issues have been raised in several cities, the latest of which is Portland, where facial recognition has been turned off with privacy and freedom being valued over technological capability.[3] As the saying goes, just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. 

 

Written by Joshua Bronson, RISE.

 

Sources

1. 2020-09-28 Bosch Deploys Traffic Video Sensor Tech in Peachtree Corners
2. 2020-09-26 Bosch Showcases Video-as-a-sensor Technology at Smart Columbus Experience Center
3. 2020-09-10 Portland approves strictest ban on facial recognition technology in the U.S.