AT&T announced that its “structure monitoring solution” will soon begin testing. The project uses sensors to monitor the functionality of bridges across the country, furthering a city’s ability to get “smart.” The bridge sensors keep track of bridge conditions and alert necessary parties if they become unsafe.
“Smart Cities” will be littered with sensors that collect data on pedestrian movement, traffic, air quality and noise. In this new era of big data, machine learning can decode unimaginable quantities of data within a reasonable timeframe. While the sensors are not new, the ability of machines to interpret their data is. AT&T leads the charge in outfitting cities across the country with their “digital infrastructure solution” system.
The company plans to announce its customers over the next few months. Cities and corporations will have an option to buy the equipment from AT&T for their own use, or to let the company manage it for them. The sensors will be fitted to ubiquitous structures like street lamps and traffic lights. San Diego already boasts 3,200 digital infrastructure sensor nodes; Atlanta has 200. The sensors will rapidly change how cities address systemic issues. One sensor already in place alerts officials if it detects a gunshot.
Many worry that these sensors will curb their freedoms. While, yes, the sensors will increase officials’ ability to monitor city activity, it will be for the greater good. Sensors will make metropolitan areas more efficient and thus improve quality of life. To curb the proliferation of these sensors would be to deny the inevitable progress of technology.