Comcast-Pennovation Challenge Winners Want to Upgrade Philly’s Bridges

Back in November, Comcast and the University of Pennsylvania announced the Comcast-Pennovation Challenge, a joint initiative out of Penn’s Center for Innovation (PCI) that motivated teams of students to develop Internet of Things technologies using Comcast’s machineQ network.

On Monday, Comcast and PCI announced that a team of students behind an infrastructural solution called Viewpoint became the competition’s first winners. 

The results were announced after more than six months of project development. The Viewpoint team, graduate students from Penn’s Integrated Product Design and Historic Preservation departments, used the time to develop their machineQ application, which can effectively collect live information on the structural stability of a city’s railway and roadway bridges.

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Comcast to Roll out machineQ Network in 12 More Major Cities

Image via Comcast

The next step for Comcast’s machineQ network service is a big one. After conducting trials of the network last year in Philadelphia and San Francisco, and a subsequent launch in Chicago, Comcast announced this week that it will expand machineQ to cover 12 additional major U.S. cities.

As we’ve noted before, the expansion could lead to an uptick in Internet of Things (IoT) technologies that can solve urban problems. While factors like high cost and limited coverage may have previously prevented some businesses and cities from pursuing large-scale IoT solutions, the Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technology used by machineQ eliminates many of those restrictions.

“We believe that Comcast has a unique opportunity to leverage our existing network assets and Semtech’s LoRa technology, to fuel IoT innovation with disruptive new business models and smarter cities,” said machineQ GM Alex Khorram. “We’ve seen excitement about a Comcast solution that is opening a whole new world of use cases that were previously not commercially viable.” Read more »

Kenney, Comcast Champion IoT Tech at Philadelphia Smart Cities Summit

Mayor Jim Kenney addresses the crowd at Philadelphia’s Smart City Summit, June 14th. Photo by Haley Weiss.

This week Mayor Jim Kenney welcomed representatives from tech and other industries across the globe to Philadelphia at the Smart City Summit, the culmination of a packed week of industry events hosted by the LoRa Alliance and Comcast’s machineQ. The summit followed up the 8th LoRa Alliance Open House & Marketplace, which showcased some of the world’s top data technologies.

While addressing attendees at the Franklin Institute, Kenney, who continues to show his support for Philadelphia’s growing technology scene, highlighted the importance of making the city’s growing innovation space inclusive and accessible.

“Philadelphia is the poorest big city in America,” he said, encouraging tech leaders to act as mentors for future innovators in Philadelphia’s schools. “Over the next thirty to forty years, unless kids in our struggling neighborhoods have access to technology and innovation, that poverty needle will never move.”

Kenney’s Rebuild program, which would renovate the city’s recreation centers, libraries, and city parks, will be an opportunity for the city to integrate technology into those spaces. The $500 million program was approved by Philadelphia City Council on Friday.

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Comcast’s New machineQ Tech Could Revolutionize Philly’s Smart City Effort

Image via Comcast.

Since receiving a Readiness Challenge grant from the Smart Cities Council in February, Philadelphia has been abuzz with ideas on how to improve the city with technology. And with machineQComcast’s latest Internet of Things (IoT) development — we may soon start to see a fair amount of these Smart City ideas in action.

This week the company will host an Internet of Things hackathon with to give developers a chance to start building machineQ-based solutions. Comcast first announced machineQ initiatives last October as a new business trial venture in Philadelphia. According to the company, the B2B platform, a Low-Power Wide-Area Network (LPWAN) that utilizes long-range (LoRa) technology, allows partners to gather, transmit and analyze data from connected devices all across the city. This means developers that create LoRa sensors for any number of infrastructural points (think cameras, dumpsters, water meters) can connect the sensors to the machineQ network and collect specific data from each individual sensor. The Philly trials over the past few months have focused on use cases like utility metering, asset tracking, and environmental monitoring for factors like temperature, pollution and noise. Read more »

Comcast Aids “Smart City” Initiatives With New Business Surveillance System

Image courtesy of Comcast.

Image courtesy of Comcast.

Cities like Philadelphia are on a quest to become “smart,” and Comcast Business is offering the tech that can help them get there. Last week the company announced that its SmartOffice video surveillance technology for small and medium-sized businesses is now on the market.

The technology’s key features include its cloud storage and instant mobile access. Up to 30 days of video can be stored, and up to four employees can be given permission to access and retrieve footage. Both live and recorded footage can be accessed on a desktop or through the SmartOffice mobile app on a smart phone or tablet. Comcast says the technology will also offer crystal-clear images with 720p HD surveillance cameras that have flexible zoom, wide view, and night-vision capabilities. Read more »

Kenney: “Philly Is Dedicated to Evolving Into a Smart City”

Photo | Jim Kenney

Photo | Jim Kenney

The “smart city” is no longer an abstract idea. Cities in Singapore have sensor-enabled traffic systems, Barcelona has an extensive citywide WiFi network, and Dubai’s working on creating the world’s smartest police stations using Google’s Glass technology. And Philly’s got some plans of its own.

This week the city announced that is was awarded a Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge grant. Basically, the Smart Cities Council, an international advisory group that’s helped cities develop “smart city roadmaps,” has recognized Philly as a city that has potential to use technology to solve its biggest challenges, like its poverty rate.

Philly, along with Austin, Miami, Orlando and Indianapolis, beat out more than 100 other cities involved in the application process.

“We have been building a coalition of city, community, business and educational institutions. They are all enthused and ready to help with smart city projects focused on the built environment, telecommunications and basic public services like water,” Mayor Kenney said in a statement. “We know the technology behind us is important for our citizens and businesses alike, and the expertise that the Smart Cities Council brings will help us realize those opportunities.”

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Google’s Next Big Project? “Urban Problems”


The next big thing at Google is, drumroll … cities! In case you missed it, there’s a new Google-backed company called Sidewalk Labs that’s describing itself as an “urban innovation company.” Its mission? “To improve life in cities for everyone through the application of technology to solve urban problems.”

What does that mean, exactly? It’s hard to say. But this is Google, so it’s all pretty intruiging.

Here’s what we do know: Read more »