UW-Parkside class, lecture series discusses smart cities

UW-Parkside class, lecture series discusses smart cities

Smart cities, meet smart campus.

With the upcoming Foxconn advanced manufacturing campus coming right around the corner, private and public institutions across the state have begun to think about the lasting impact the 20-million-square-foot campus will have on the area.

The University of Wiscosnin-Parkside is one of those institutions, as a recent lecture series and course has focused on answering what the term “smart city” — a term frequently used by Foxconn officials — truly means. The course was discussed before Foxconn decided to host a Smart Future Summit last August on Parkside’s campus.

“Realizing just how few people on campus even know what it is, that’s probably also true for students and it’s probably also true for the community,” said Christopher Hudspeth, director of Parkside’s Center for Professional Studies.

The College of Social Sciences and Professional Studies decided to host a weekly lecture series, which officials call “Smart Cities brown bag lunch discussions,” to further educate students and the public about the smart city term. Professors from Parkside discuss different aspects of smart cities to students and the public during the lectures, covering everything from the environment to technology.

Smart cities defined

Although there are many definitions for the term, smart cities generally means utilizing technology to positively affect an urban space or city.

Kenneth French, a professor in the department of geography and anthropology, defined a smart city as an “urban area that utilizes communication, information, and spatial technologies to collect and process real-time data to make optimal urban decisions.” French said that as a buzzword, the term smart city was first used in about 2010.

French led a discussion Wednesday about Masdar City, United Arab Emirates, a city that began as a case study in the smart-city model. Masdar City focused on using sustainable and environmentally friendly energy sources, while using new technologies such as driverless vehicles — something that Foxconn officials have expressed interest in placing on their campus.

“If you look at Foxconn facilities in other cities … they do have housing and entertainment options on campus. In that sense, it really is a city,” said Hudspeth.

Foxconn released a sneak peek video of its manufacturing campus last month that could have served as a tutorial for “How to build a smart city.” The video shows large amounts of green space, hotels, medical services, walking paths, a science and technology park and space for mixed commercial and residential developments.

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