Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group, Apple supplier and one of the largest electronics contract manufacturers in the world, announced a joint project with the state of Wisconsin to develop smart cities, in addition to its pledge to invest US$1 million for the venture.
Universities in Wisconsin will hold the “Smart City, Smart Future” competition in the fall, aiming to find innovative smart city ideas. Foxconn said it will provide the winners with the needed financial and technical support to turn their ideas into reality.
The goal is to encourage discussion, research and recommendations on innovative new ideas for smart, connected cities and systems to better serve Wisconsin, the company said.
“If you are an energy provider, we want to bring in sustainable energy and actually have a grid that would connect to different places,” said Foxconn’s Director of U.S. Strategic Initiatives Alan Yeung.
Smart city generally involves integrating digital technology with city functions. Data can be used to improve efficiency in things like parking, street lighting and timing of traffic signals. Big data may be analyzed to anticipate traffic patterns and adjust traffic lights.
Foxconn encouraged students and faculty to think big, suggesting that flying cars will someday be on the horizon. Considering the advancement with drones and driverless cars, the next frontier is likely to be in the air space, Yeung said, adding that Foxconn is already thinking in that direction.
The company is looking at drones to move materials, and smart highways that would share information with autonomous cars.
More details about the initiative will be announced on August 7 in the “Smart Futures Summit” at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
The “Smart City, Smart Future” program is wide reaching, involving designs for workplaces, homes, transportation and communication systems. Foxconn may even help the winner develop products and create new businesses.
The company is currently building a $US10 billion manufacturing facility in southeast Wisconsin to make ultra-high-definition display panels. Foxconn has the plan to create 13,000 jobs at the factory. The panels may be used for the smart city initiative.