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LinkNYC part of Qualcomm smart cities strategy

LinkNYC, an ambitious project to convert old New York City phone booths in public Wi-Fi access points, is still in the beta phase, but project backer Qualcomm is looking forward to the impact smart cities technology will have in an era marked by massive urbanization.

The United Nations estimates that in the next 15 years the number of people living in cities globally will reach 5 billion. The first time in all of recorded history the urban population has reached this high, it will also be the first time ever that urban populations outnumber rural ones. Growing populations and diminishing resources underlie the huge investment in R&D around smart cities technology.

LinkNYC is a for-profit venture of CityBridge, a consortium of four companies that signed a 12-year, $200 million contract with the city. The four CityBridge partners are chipmaker Qualcomm; ; CIVIQ Smartscapes, which is building the kiosks; and Intersection, which is a merger of the overseeing Control Group and outdoor advertising company Titan.

Kiva Allgood, Qualcomm’s vice president of smart cities and industrial IoT, discussed how LinkNYC fits into the company’s strategy around smart cities in this interview with RCR Wireless News.

“We’re really excited about what we’re working on in the smart cities and industrial Internet space,” she said. “[We’re] really focused on the problems cities and municipalities are trying to address. Problems such as pollution, the fact that urbanization, you’re going to have 70% of the world’s population in urban environments by 2050. That means that cities are going to have to do more with less and technology is going to play a key role in that.”

Specific to LinkNYC, Allgood said, “It’s really at the cornerstone of what we’re strategically trying to do with municipalities and cities. Reimagine city infrastructure…it starts to go from single-purpose to multi-purpose. We really think that technology is at the heart of that. The impetus from the city’s perspective was how do they solve the digital divide. We said, ‘Hey, what assets does the city have?’ How do we make that more multi-purpose?'”

On the technology side, the LinkNYC kiosks are equipped with a Ruckus Wireless ZoneFlex 802.11ac wave 2 4×4 access points using the Qualcomm VIVE 11ac Wi-Fi solution and Qualcomm MU/EFX Multi-user MIMO technology; Sierra Wireless MC9090 3G modem powered by a Qualcomm chipset; and the eInfochips’ Eragon Single Board Computer, which is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor.

The LinkNYC kiosks provide gigabit Wi-Fi throughput, along with a charging station. Following the beta, the kiosks will feature tablets that connect users to municipal services.

“I applaud the city of New York because this is one of the first projects where it really crosses different departments,” Allgood said of LinkNYC. “you’ve actually seen a lot of collaboration. That’s really what’s super interesting for the U.S. It’s really serving as a poster child. We look at that as a good opportunity for us to say…it’s been done and it’s been done in one of the largest and most complex cities in the U.S.”





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