As ain Washington, D.C., gets back on track, just over 300 miles away in Poughkeepsie, New York, technology company Uncharted Power is exploring the future of connected cities using the "internet of things" and sidewalk paver systems.
"I think that they are a testament to the reality that it will in many ways be the smaller cities that will be the leaders and rethinking their infrastructure and rethinking the way we want to live in this world," Uncharted Power founder and CEO Jessica O. Matthews told CBSN on Tuesday.
The company recently completed the first phase in a pilot project that replaced sidewalks in the city's so-called Innovation District on Cannon Street with Uncharted's modular pavers, which come equipped with an operating system.
The company is using the technology to help streamline the deployment of existing smart technologies in what Matthews calls "the last mile infrastructure." Once completed, the system will enable Poughkeepsie to deploy and manage key city infrastructure, such as power grids, water pipes and broadband.
"Within a city, what makes it difficult to actually have a smart city is the fact that everything needs to not just integrate but interoperate. And there really has been no solution for that until the Uncharted Platform," Matthews said. "And so for us, our goal ultimately is to ensure that, instead of the cost going up each time, you have a new smart solution that can address water and sanitation issues, that can address grid resiliency issues. Instead of having the cost go up when you want to deploy that and when you want to manage that — with our platform the cost goes down, the complexity goes down."
For Matthews, who grew up in Poughkeepsie, engaging the community as part of her company mission was also important. Uncharted partners with the local school district to teach science-, technology-, engineering- and math-themed courses to middle school students.
In addition, the company approaches the concept of connected cities with a specific focus: "We really ground our definition in this African proverb that goes, 'We seek in life to bequeath two things to our children — one is wings and the other is roots.' And so when we think about what a smart city is, at Uncharted, it's really any city that leverages technology to give every citizen roots and wings. Security and opportunity, resiliency and economic development."