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Austin showcases smart mobility

Smart cities are often imagined as clean, convenient, connected utopias where traffic and resources flow smoothly and efficiently. That vision may never quite materialize, but some cities may need to at least move in that direction in order to survive.

“The concept of being able to capture and manipulate data becomes a salvation for a city like Austin,” said Austin, Texas, mayor Steve Adler, speaking yesterday at the NXP Freescale Technology Forum. “We have a built-out infrastructure system that is going to be hard to us to add to because the money and the space don’t exist. … From a city’s perspective, it’s to increase efficiency, sustainability, resiliency, equity, opportunity.”

NXP Freescale, the world’s largest maker of semiconductors for connected vehicles, is headquartered in Austin, and this week the city became a showcase for NXP’s vehicle-to-x connected car technology. V2X enables drivers to “see” around corners, through traffic obstacles and can warn drivers of traffic hazards up to one mile ahead. Traffic lights automatically turn green according to current traffic conditions, and vehicles are automatically invoiced as they drive through the gate of a parking lot.

“Austin, with its reputation as one of the smartest cities in the U.S., is the ideal location for providing a glimpse of these future advancements,” said Lars Reger, CTO of NXP’s automotive business. “Self-driving cars, connected vehicles and smart sensors are positioned to become fundamental parts of transportation networks, and NXP has the technologies to make this a reality.”

The big question for NXP (and for the 70% of the world’s population expected to live in cities by the year 2050) is who will pay to connect urban infrastructure to the “Internet of Things?”

“It’s a big challenge,” said Steve Owen, EVP of sales for NXP. “Our job is to bring technology to companies and government to be able to bring these smarter cities forward much faster.” But, Owen said technology has to be part of an integrated smart city solution.

“It’s all the companies and the infrastructure and the service providers together to bring meaningful solutions into our daily lives so that we’re able to benefit from it,” Owen said. “How do you do that without governments getting involved in legislating, providing money [or] companies deciding for the greater good to go make this happen? It’s a big challenge.”

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