Smarter Bases to Improve Quality of Life and Security
The U.S. Army’s interest in smart cities comes from their considerable portfolio of installations around the world — 156 sites and over 1 billion square feet of buildings in total, including bases, airfields, training facilities, arsenals, and even cemeteries. John Thompson, the leader of the “Installations of the Future” portfolio for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Strategic Integration), said that each of these installations can be thought of as a “mini-city,” sharing many of the same energy, infrastructure, and security responsibilities and challenges as civilian communities.
Army officials hope to use IoT technologies such as sensors and automation to improve the management of these sites. Thompson’s examples included automatically controlling the temperature of empty barracks while Soldiers are out in the field training, or using embedded sensors and analytics to predict maintenance issues before they occur. More generally, the Army realizes it will need to update these communities to make them appealing and safe for its personnel stationed there. Thompson said.
ARL’s open campus model is changing how the Army is doing research, emphasizing public-private partnerships that incorporate university, national lab and industry technical expertise. The objective of this event was to develop strong partnerships through identifying the challenges faced on Army and DOD installations, assessing the current state of the art in harnessing sensor technology within smart cities, and prioritizing the science and technologies that can greatly impact Army installations and Army operational needs. Dr. Mark Tschopp, regional lead of ARL Central was instrumental in bring individuals from universities and industry within the Chicago area to support this workshop.
“I’m thrilled to see the excitement from pulling together experts and decision-makers from across academia, the Army and the DOD to discuss the future of smart cities and smart installations,” Tschopp said. “While there may be some disagreement about the term “smart,” there is no denying that ubiquitous IoT and sensor technologies are leading to an overwhelming amount of data that can be harnessed to our advantage.
“So, the real question is... how do we enable a future capability with these technologies where we make Soldier’s lives better and safer, where we provide installation commanders with information to make decisions, where we increase the level of protection within our installations, and more broadly, where we make people’s lives better by integrating with the surrounding communities—all with the proper amount of security and privacy. Together, we can tackle existing gaps that stand in the way of that future and can produce outcomes of impact for the Army.”