Forget ‘Smart Cities’ and start thinking ‘Smart State,’ DeSantis transition team says

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Forget “Smart Cities.” Members of Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis’ economic transition team want Florida to be the first “Smart State.”

Joe York, president of AT&T Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, said Florida has the chance to lead the nation in data infrastructure at a moment when the “internet of things” begins to affect everything from mobile phone service to autonomous vehicle navigation.

A member of DeSantis’ Transition Advisory Committee on the Economy, he said some metropolitan areas like Columbus, Ohio, have made strides in tech availability, but with Florida growth patterns and the cutting-edge commercial opportunities already here, Florida has the opportunity to establish Florida as a leader in innovation.

“Those things are all going to have to be made more simple,” York said.

But the notion of Florida becoming a “Smart State” won the attention of Will Weatherford, committee chairman and former House Speaker.

“I think the difficulty for the business community is consistency when dealing with that many jurisdictions,” he said. That may require state standards on issues like installation of 5G telecommunications available.

And solid IT and wireless communication access drove parts of the transition meeting from road widening to ports.

Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Dew said wireless connectivity matters increasingly to visitors and investors coming to the state. There’s growing demand to have constant access to wifi, whether that’s in hotel rooms or roadside on Interstate 75.

“And wireless is going to be a key not only for visitors,” Dew said, “but we don’t know what the autonomous vehicle and the connected space is going to look like.”

Just like Florida road planners as they widen roads in urban areas must figure out how demand will shift thanks to self-driving cars and rideshare services, they must also find ways to ensure reliable internet access is available.

“We need a robust wireless network,” Dew said.

And how can the costs be handled? York noted Floridians get charged telecommunications taxes by local governments, revenue that often goes into general funds for cities and counties but which could go toward improving internet connectivity.

That could become important, especially as revenue streams like gas taxes decline. Revenue estimating conferences in Florida have recently predicted sharp declines in the millions of dollars thanks to increased fuel efficiency.

That could worsen as more people switch to electric vehicles fueled by power cells instead of gasoline.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


3 comments

  • Carolina Lavayen

    December 13, 2018 at 8:21 am

    Florida as a leader in innovation? A SMART state? Rolling out 5G would be more of an automated resident state! A leader in frying people in extremely dangerous levels of radiation, cooking our reproductive organs and leading the way to a HUGE invasion of privacy with this technology. Have you asked yourself why people don’t get a vote on this? Fiber optic cables are the better option. Learn the dangers of this technology hundreds of scientist are urging government not to allow the release of! https://ehtrust.org/factsheet-need-know-5g-small-cells-science-policy-public-health/ Tell everyone you know and tell your state representatives you are NOT OK with this.

    • Angela

      December 13, 2018 at 10:08 am

      I will!! But as far as DeSantis and his transition team say anything at all doesn’t make one bit of difference at all!! This past mid-term election was a big ass fraud and Redtide Rick Scott & Devil DeSantis have stolen the offices

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