How Charlotte Is Leading the Way in Smart City Technology

By Jazmin Siancas - Digital Marketing, TelWare Corporation

Imagine if our own Queen City became the “queen” of 5G technology not just in North Carolina—but in the world? Businesses would enjoy real-time video meetings without buffering. Gamers and movie downloaders could enjoy almost immediate response times with cableless internet. Your “smart” car could tell you when you’d gone over the speed limit or when the traffic light was about to turn green—and you’d always know where the closest open parking space was located. Best of all, traffic would flow more smoothly with less congestion.1 

Does a future like this seem too good to be true? Well, if city councilman Tariq Bokhari and other Charlotte visionaries get what they want, not only will such technological capabilities become our reality—we’ll lead the way.1 As major cities around the world—from Beijing to LA—are incorporating smart-city technology, Charlotte has joined the race to become the first fully serviced 5G city on a large scale. City leaders are aware of the tremendous potential smart technologies can bring to Charlotte; after all, if our city can take advantage of 5G technology in unconventional ways, we can increase business growth, meet the needs of every Charlotte resident with greater efficiency, and support cleaner and more sustainable environmental efforts.1 

What Makes a City "Smart"?

A “smart city” aims to increase the quality of urban life by adapting innovative technology practices. To have a smart city, city managers need the following in place: 

  • connected devices via a 5G network (which will be slowly rolled out by AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint starting this year),
  • data collection through these connected devices, 
  • and the evaluation of collected data to make informed decisions.

Let’s look at some practical applications of smart technology that can be used for public benefit: 

  • smart streetlights that illuminate around motion and/or provide broadband,
  • smart parking in which an app notifies urban drivers of empty nearby spaces, 
  • traffic monitoring systems, 
  • security integrations that can help prevent terrorist attacks, 
  • visual management of public spaces that alert city officials of littering or defacement, public garbage bins with sensors that notify waste management when full, 
  • monitoring of overcrowded spaces for density, 
  • predictions of how an infectious disease might spread,4 
  • assessment of air quality,
  • smart sprinklers that only water public green spaces when they’re dry,
  • self-driving cars,1 
  • and many other applications. 
How Is Charlotte Becoming a Smart City?

Charlotte’s leading smart-city transformation incorporates the use of smartphone technology connected to high-speed networks and applications. Pairing both technologies brings a positive change for residents and business, allowing them to act based on data provided through their smartphone devices. Charlotte’s smart-city initiative is focusing on the widespread use of incredibly fast 5G connectivity, giving consumers access to information at lightning speeds.1 The Electronic Internet of Things (IoT) sensors collect valuable city data on traffic patterns and accident rates at intersections, reducing average travel time, easing frustration caused by traffic congestion, and improving safety.

As Charlotte continues to grow, an additional smart-city solution for consideration would be adopting smart parking.1 Such technology would rely on strategically placed sensors and cameras to improve the city’s parking crisis.6 

Another solution would be transitioning to smart LED streetlights and traffic signals enabled with sensors and connectivity. Since smart streetlights can dim or brighten based on whether motion is detected, they would bring cost savings to the city by consuming less energy than conventional streetlights.3 Smart traffic signals would allow city management to reduce heavy congestion or detect malfunctions almost immediately.7 

Other capabilities that city leaders foresee include driving-safety alerts from talking cars and hologram video conferencing and imaging.1 

Bringing It All Together

Charlotte faces significant potential growth over the next several years, so critical steps toward transforming into a true smart city must be taken quickly. The money we spend now on 5G infrastructure—as well as the necessary hardware, software, cloud technology, storage, and analytics—will save us money in the long term. Our investment will shape Charlotte’s future and ensure we stay ahead, in comparison to other cities who have yet to implement the proper technology and necessary urban infrastructure to achieve this visionary goal. Charlotte is a forerunner in identifying innovative solutions to meet the complex and interrelated challenges faced by our urban community. 

1. Mark Boyle, “City Leaders Pushing to Make Charlotte the World’s First 5G City,” WCNC, www.wcnc.com/article/tech/city-leaders-pushing-to-make-charlotte-the-worlds-first-5g-city/275-a188311d-2810-4795-b79f-fc28b2f166a3.
2. SDxCentral Staff, “What is 5G?: Everything You Need to Know,” sdxcentral, www.sdxcentral.com/5g/definitions/what-is-5g/.
3. DW Shift, What Is a Smart City?, www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRRPy-yEKRM.
4. “What Is a Smart City?,” CNBC Explains, www.youtube.com/watch?v=bANfnYDTzxE.
5. LinkedIn Learning, Smart Cities: Solving Urban Problems Using Technology, www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnyRZotnPSU.
6. Yury Buchenko, “Plug and Play Smart Parking,” Nwave, www.nwave.io/news/plug-and-play-smart-parking/.
7. Ryan Citron, “Advanced Traffic Management Is the Next Big Thing for Smart Cities,” GreenBiz, www.greenbiz.com/article/advanced-traffic-management-next-big-thing-smart-cities.


    To learn more about how TelWare is leading the way in smart-city technology for Charlotte businesses, contact us at 800.637.3148 or sales@telware.com—or visit our website at www.telware.com. TelWare is a five-star cloud phone provider, with unified voice, data, and video solutions. 

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