Bringing Drones into a Smart City Network

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August 7, 2018 | Originally published by Date Line: August 7 on

San Diego is in the midst of a tech convergence. It is working to build what it calls the nation’s largest smart city network, and it also was selected for the U.S. Department of Transportation”s UAS Integration Pilot Program.

The city plans to bring these two efforts together, coordinating unmanned aerial systems with the smart city infrastructure it is building.

The sensor network that can detect traffic trends detect gunshots, find open parking spaces, measure air quality and track traffic flow of both vehicles and pedestrians is being developed in partnership with GE’s Current, which is also deploying networks in Portland, Ore., and Atlanta.

As part of the UAS Integration Pilot Program, San Diego wants to bring information collected by drones into its smart city network.

“One use case is deploying a UAS to capture data that’s going on within the public, so traffic trends, or how many pedestrians travel at one area in a given point in time, where potholes may be located,” said Harrison Andrew Pierce, the homeland security coordinator for the City of San Diego’s Office of Homeland Security.

For more information on the FAA”s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP) and the awardees specific efforts, see the FAA”s UAS IPP website and the UAS IPP Awardees link.

Under AT&T”s Flying COW effort, AT&T uses cellular system equipped drones connected to the ground by a thin tether. The tether between the drone and the ground provides a highly secure data connection via fiber and supplies power to the Flying COW, which allows for unlimited flight time.  The Flying COW then connects via satellite to relay commutations and data. The system can operate in extremely remote areas and where wired or wireless infrastructure is not immediately available. For more information, see the AT&T articles, When COWs Fly: AT&T Sending LTE Signals from Drones and Flying COW Connects Puerto Rico.

Current, branded as “Current, powered by GE” is an energy management company that combines GE’s commercial and industrial LED lighting, solar, energy storage and electric-vehicle businesses with the predictive analytics of its industrial internet platform, Predix, and Daintree”s open-standard wireless network to provide one-stop shopping for customers looking to solve increasingly complex energy problems.  For more information on Current, see the Current, powered by GE website.