The smartLink Story – A Smart City Project Born
The smartLink Story
SmartLink was developed when the founder of Nexigen, a Newport based Technology firm, tried to solve a problem for the students at Newport schools. The problem was this: the students were given access to tablets to provide extra exposure to education, but the students could not benefit because many did not have internet access outside of the school. Nexigen immediately worked on designs for a complex wireless mesh network which would encompass the city and provide the students free internet throughout the city.
We realized through experience this would become an operating expenditure issue to the city which may not be fiscally sustainable. This model also lacked the build of fiber optic cables which would greatly reduce its long-term economic impact to the city. At that point we contacted Cincinnati Bell, a local internet service provider. We requested a quote from Cincinnati Bell on a fiber build and providing free WIFI access points in parts of the city. The bill from Cincinnati Bell came back at close to 1 million dollars. Instead of giving up on the project, Nexigen created a call to action with over 200 businesses to pre-sell specific services from Cincinnati Bell (at a discounted rate). This eliminated all risk of the fiber build and allowed for Newport to get over 2 miles of fiber ran and 30 wireless access points placed at no cost to the city. Basically, we spread the cost among the businesses for the build which helped the schools, the students, the city, the businesses (reduced internet bills) and more.
The above solution is a good one, but it does not cover the entire city and we are not in complete control over where the access points are located. We also realized we could create a better system than just a WIFI access point, giving more than just an internet signal. We also realized this problem was not just in Newport, this is an everywhere problem and our solution would not work outside of Newport. We went to the drawing board and did a lot of research on this problem.
Here is where smartLink was born. We looked deeper and realized we were on the cusp of a way to create an actual fiscally sustainable smart city solution from a connection, communication, and an intelligence standpoint. We realized more value could exist outside of just internet service. What was needed was to create a smart city which would connect entire cities with the ultimate goal of providing access to the impoverished and connecting everyone through technology.
smartLink works like this:
We build physical nodes: (definition of node: point at which lines or pathways intersect or branch; a central or connecting point)
These nodes consist of the following technology
9.5 ft tall structures which are indoor / outdoor ready.
Two 55 inch TV’s which use the bottom 2/3rds of the screen’s real estate for advertisements and the top half for Wayfinding and widgets (information presentation)
One interactive tablet device which is multi lingual and provides access to wayfinding, first aid info, internet, emergency calling, public transportation info, airport info and a host of other options
Two USB charging stations for devices
Cameras as sensors (respectful of user’s privacy) which provide insightful analytics to the advertisers including (age, mood, dwell time, demographics and more)
The nodes are profit centers allowing for cities and businesses to share in our revenue model. This model allows for the city (on city property) or business to earn 20 percent of the gross profit allowing up to $900.00 per month, per node. In Newport we hope to deploy 30 nodes, allowing up to 27 thousand dollars per month given to the city to implement smart technologies which provide better access to information for the people. We were hoping the city and businesses could split the revenue share between the two entities still providing the business profit.
The node network will allow the community to control fiber builds, get WIFI access points in the appropriate locations, help with digital divide and provide other smart city technology including Canopy and Internet of Things technologies. (Internet of things is smart city technology which help us implement better waste management, energy distribution, parking and transportation services).
The reason we need your business to partake in this project is the following:
This is truly a collaborative effort, essentially a public private partnership. Your business does not have to incur expense and would get access to revenue share, therefore smartLink will pay you to put them on your property. We also fully manage the nodes. This is great for your guests as they will get more value than just WIFI and you will get revenue dollars from the system. You have a lot of people come to your business, so your participation on this project will also help pay for the more impoverished areas. This means some of the monies generated from the nodes on your property will make it back to the kids in need and supports smartLink’s overall goal of providing access to the impoverished and connecting everyone through technology.
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