‘The Connective’: Arizona Pioneers ‘Smart Region’ Concept

The ConnectivePhoto by Mark Goldstein
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National and global buzz is increasing over the Smart Region concept dreamed up by Arizona State University where smart city technology will bypass individual cities by imposing regional policies directly.

Many think this is a great idea, but there are just a couple of problems with it. First, it strips sovereignty from individual cities and second, any regional form of governance is patently unconstitutional. ⁃ TN Editor

During the ASU Smart Region Summit in November, the formation of the statewide collaborative, The Connective, was announced at the State of the Smart Region Gala. The Connective’s vision is that through a community-driven applied research model and intentional, unprecedented collaboration, the consortium of public, private, university, and community partners will empower Greater Phoenix communities to build the nation’s largest, most connected smart region, developing and deploying technology-scalable solutions rooted in connectivity, mobility, equity, and sustainability. This constitutes a big bold new vision for Arizona!

“This is the first major regional effort in the United States to engage communities across such a broad range of municipalities in co-designing and co-investing in our smart and connected futures,” says Lev Gonick, chief information officer at Arizona State University (ASU).

While ASU is planning its own smart city project, they’re also uniting with the Arizona Institute for Digital Progress (AZiDP), Arizona Commerce AuthorityMaricopa Association of GovernmentsGreater Phoenix Economic Council, and 22 Greater Phoenix cities and towns to create and build The Connective.

“Creating a smarter, safer, more vibrant city is at the heart of this effort. ASU is proud to partner with industry and municipalities to advance this initiative for our city, our region, and the state,” says Cynthia Sagers, vice president for research at ASU.

A day-long summit closed the SRS focusing on surfacing the big ideas and highlighting the strategic partnerships that will bring our cities and regions into the future.

Several companies have announced partnerships with The Connective, including Cox, Dell, Sprint, and SRP. Cox and ASU recently announced their plan to launch the Cox Connected Environments Collaboratory at ASU, an incubation space that will cultivate a smart region ecosystem while addressing the need for a consistent, powerful network on campus and beyond to really capitalize on the promise of these smart region initiatives. Students, faculty, and staff will develop Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to problems facing the optimization of buildings for sustainability and new way for us to interact with our evolving environment, providing new learning experiences in virtual and augmented reality, infrastructure modeling, privacy and security, sustainability, and more.

Sprint recently announced a significant collaboration to bring 5G, the Curiosity IoT Network to fruition, a whole new university degree program for IoT development.

Further, Alteryx and ASU are teaming up to use the former’s data analytics platform to effectively use data to solve smart region challenges. This partnership will give students, faculty and staff members an edge on tackling real-world business issues and driving social impact.

All of these announcements signal a substantial industry commitment to public private partnerships and improving the experience of ASU community members while broadly sharing their discoveries and forward pathways.

Bill Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder, had invested in the purchase of 25,000 acres west of the White Tank Mountains for a planned new smart city known as Belmont, and has now also invested in another 2,800 acres in Buckeye.

Belmont’s partners consider the greenfield community to be a “blank slate of opportunity” for developing advanced communication, energy, and transportation infrastructure designed for innovation and delivering an improved quality of life.

In the meantime, Microsoft Corporation has acquired three land parcels in the West Valley for enormous data center builds.

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Christopher McMillon
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Arizona looks to be a contender to be the first to become a complete Orwellian nightmare then? Anywhere the likes of Bill Gates is investing in, I’d get far far away from there. No, you won’t be able to own land and live how you please. If you live in these areas, it’s over.