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Dedicated Smart City Lab to Open Near Denver

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade will invest $500,000 in the Arrow Electronics lab, expected to open this spring.

(TNS) — A new facility is coming to south metro Denver where the use of data-collecting “internet of things” technology will be explored and tested as means to make urban services and infrastructure work better for residents.

Officials with Arrow Electronics took the stage at the inaugural Colorado Smart Cities Symposium in Denver on Tuesday to announce plans to open what it is calling the “Colorado Open Lab” next year. Working with the 19 Colorado municipalities and agencies that, along with a collection of private businesses, universities and research institutions, make up the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, Arrow intends to use the forthcoming lab as a place to showcase ideas such a data-driven smart street lighting, smart parking and connected, automated vehicles.

Aiden Mitchell, Arrow’s vice president of IoT Global Solutions , described the lab as “a technology innovation center” that will allow for the development, testing, evaluation and “integration of technology that is meeting some of the toughest challenges that (we) need to meet across mobility, transportation, public safety, citizen engagement and the advancement of economic development across the state.”

In the design phase now, the lab is slated to open on the ground floor of Arrow’s corporate headquarters in Centennial sometime in the spring, according to Mitchell. It is being supported in part by a $500,000 grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The announcement comes after Panasonic unveiled a mini smart city testing ground near Denver International Airport earlier this year.

“Our partners at Arrow Electronics have one of the broadest global technology networks in the world,” Jake Rishavy, vice president of innovation for the Denver South Economic Development Partnership, said in a news release. His organization co-founded the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance. “Now with the support of the advanced industries grant program, the Colorado Open Lab will bring these leading technology companies here to Denver South and Colorado to work alongside Colorado cities and other public sector leaders to co-develop the next generation of smart cities technologies.”

The data collected at the lab there won’t belong to Arrow, Mitchell emphasized, but all smart city partners.

“While this is at our facility, this is very much your lab,” he said. “This is a going to be an open environment.”

One major company that will be part of the Open Lab ecosystem from the start is Intel. The Silicon Valley giant will use the lab as a place to study what it sees as the next phase in computing, something called “ambient science.” It doesn’t have a firm definition yet, but Jeff Fedders, a chief strategist with Intel, made it clear artificial intelligence will be a key element.

“If you think of a piece of technology or a piece of data that is out in the industry or out in smart cities, think of that piece of technology as immersive, intelligent and self-aware,” Fedders said at Tuesday’s event. “This piece of technology can start to make its own decisions.”

South metro officials expressed high hopes for what having a tech lab with potentially international drawing power in their own backyards will mean for their residents. Appearing as part of a symposium panel discussing connected “smart regions,” Centennial Mayor Stephanie Piko said she is hopeful the lab will help adapt and install internet-of-things infrastructure in already developed parts of cities, not just in yet-to-develop green fields that can be built with the technology in mind.

Neighboring Lone Tree is already home to one Smart Cities Alliance-endorsed pilot program. It is partnering with Uber to put one of its Lone Tree Link shuttles to work providing free rides around town at defined times of day. It is working with other south metro cities to sync their traffic signal systems so that traffic flows smoothly across municipal boundaries.

Lone Tree City Manager Seth Hoffman on Tuesday called the lab the “physical manifestation of the moment that we’re in where there is so much opportunity for cities to really improve the quality of life (of their residents) in partnership with the private sector.”

©2018 The Denver Post Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.