Aspen needs to move technologically forward |

Aspen needs to move technologically forward

Ballot Measure 2B passed with more than a 90 percent approval. This measure allows Aspen to move forward with the delivery by the city of high-speed data services. As passed, it was more than a mandate — over 90 percent is in essence a command from the voters. The city should aggressively move forward and not let the opportunity languish. Much has been written about “smart cities,” the integration of data and communications to manage a city’s public and private assets around an “internet of things.” Cities such as Barcelona, Stockholm and Tel Aviv are implementing these, and closer to home Denver has partnered with Panasonic on the transportation side to move to a smart environment.

The key is ultra-high-speed and capacity data transfer (5G). The ballot measure reserved to the city the right to build and deliver such services. But a smart city is much more than merely high-speed access to the internet, which is now considered to be a utility and should be delivered as such. It also is different from that proposed by Pitkin County, which is to build infrastructure to cover gaps in coverage and lease the facilities to commercial providers.

Rather, a smart city monitors and links all available resources public and private into an internet of things. On the public side it means, for example, smart electricity such as off-grid micro storage in case of outages, smart roads, smart water and smart delivery of emergency services. It knows there is a fire or an accident before the 911 call. On a more mundane side, it knows where the crowds are on the mountains, the long and short lift lines, just as the app Waze knows the traffic conditions.

As a community, Aspen reveres its past, but it is still a 21st-century town that moves easily in a high-tech environment. By size, topography and resources it is an ideal candidate to move into the smart world. Careful consideration of this issue followed by implementation would be a very powerful statement by a forward-looking city government that Aspen is not technologically standing still.

Neil B. Siegel