Newark, N.J., is on its way to becoming a smart city. The city recently launched its first smart city initiative.

The city has partnered with New Jersey Institute of Technology, the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII), and private business to start MetroLab@Newark. MetroLab@Newark is a local version of the White House’s MetroLab, which is a Federal effort to help cities and universities collaborate on smart city projects.

The end goal of the smart city initiative and MetroLab is to make Newark a testbed for smart city technology; MetroLab will work with technology developers and private business to test different types of technology across the city.

The first project of the new initiative is a smart kiosk called BrandNewark. The 10-foot-high digital kiosks will be located throughout downtown Newark and will serve as Wi-Fi hot spots. The kiosks will also serve as interactive portals to local events, retail offers and discounts, transit, parking, and other city services. The interactive portal will use a 22-inch screen that runs on an Android platform. The 55-inch television screens on each side will convey information while a monitor and touch keypad will enable shared access for residents and visitors. The kiosks will also provide 911 capabilities and wayfinding services, as well as limited Internet browsing. To help offset the costs of running the kiosks, the 55-inch screens will also run advertisements.

“The open technology infrastructure we are creating will be a magnet to attract entrepreneurial businesses whose products will reshape urban life using the Internet of Things, and they will contribute greatly to the economic vitality of our city,” said Donald Sebastian, president and CEO of NJII.

The city hopes to use the kiosks to test different applications and sensors from a variety of vendors.

“This is a big step forward for the city, to make us an innovative hub where tech companies will want to locate,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “BrandNewark is a physical extension of that, and a way that the neighborhoods can feel like this innovation is all around them and they are a part of it.  We want to make it happen right here, a smart city, gigabit Internet and a tech-savvy workforce.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs