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smartLINK to Make Newport Among First "Smart Cities"

Newport is celebrating its standing as the first "SMART CITY" in the Midwest, according to a news release that points out Newport's accomplishment in spite of a $50 million grant awarded to Columbus, Ohio to achieve the same feat.

Nexigen, the Newport-based tech firm behind smartLINK, will help the city reach its desired status faster than Columbus because of the reduced scope and smaller footprint.

“We think a smart city is the representation of the achieved goals of the city leaders' and citizens' vision for a connected city,” said Jon Salisbury, co-founder of Nexigen, in an announcement. “We are trying to engage and connect through smart technologies streamlining the efficiency of services which meet residents’ needs.”

SmartLINK has a vision for a smart Newport that includes smart Nodes; approximately nine-foot structures which will be installed throughout the city. These nodes, which smartLINK will be paying the city to install, will provide an ultra-intelligent citizen experience on a state-of-the-art platform. 

These steel framed nodes will be able to withstand significant impact with carbon fiber styling that will be distributed throughout the city. SmartLINK nodes feature USB fast charging outlets, an interactive tablet for internet access, emergency calling capabilities, atmospheric censors, data analytic devices, and two 55-inch outdoor displays for way finding and advertising purposes.  

There will also be integrated EV charging stations in select areas.

The nodes will be connected with high-speed fiber optics and will emit a canopy of super fast wireless internet. This wireless internet will provide a special WIFI service; delivering data access to a multitude of devices with WIFI capabilities extending 30 – 300 miles from a single access point. 

"The Nodes were challenging to design due to the outdoor location combined with our goal to achieve long lasting and appealing aesthetics,” said John Heal, founder of Heal Design Services.

SmartLINK’s future vision for Newport aims to provide an improved parking meter system, better waste management and better estimates for traffic flows, as well as more useful analytics for prospective businesses. Moreover, this smartLINK city will offer a Genius Community portal that allows members of the community to get up to date information on intelligence collected through the smart node system as well as local news.

This highly connected community will also offer citizens an opportunity to generate income from things they already own such as bikes and parking spaces. The interconnectivity the smartLINK vision provides will allow faster communication about the things that matter most to those living in Newport.   

“Most smart cities we are seeing are trying to help those without the means to afford fancy technology or high-speed internet access,” Salisbury said. “We have actionable steps we have taken which allow for these groups to gain access to internet and information about the community; like jobs, and current events.

“We will also be ensuring this project encompasses more than just a digital kiosk and grow deeper into the community with technologies driven by the data and feedback from the citizen and government groups,” Salisbury continued.

This technology was originally inspired by smart city projects occurring around the world. The minds behind smartLINK saw a niche business model unfolding and knew they could provide insights that were game changing and would make the model even successful.

SmartLINK is creating this vision in cooperation of multiple local entities including: Nexigen, Beast Carbon, and John Heal with Heal Design Services. This united group will be providing the technology, cyber security, physical engineering, design and construction of the Nodes as well as carbon fiber styling.

“When you are telling a city, business or university you will not only install a very expensive node for free, but that you will actually pay them every month to install and manage the node, you really catch some attention,” said Jill Cohen Co-Founder smartLINK. “After that, it doesn’t take much to explain how the model is possible and sustainable.” 

"Working with a City like Newport who has such incredible leadership and accessibility allows for businesses to innovate on behalf of the city," Salisbury said. "Mayor Jerry Peluso, Newport City Commissioners, (City Manager) Tom Fromme, (Assistant to City Manager) Larisa Sims, and a team of others have been so supportive and instrumental into making this project a reality. We truly want to thank Newport City Officials for having faith in partnering with smartLINK on this important project."

-Staff report