Ericsson conclave targets urban advances
By Nina Lincoff
Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson is betting that information and communications technology will be the next big thing for urban improvement, enough so to build a new pavilion for the launch of their Networked Society City Index 2013 at NEST, a conference held in Miami Beach over the past three days.
“Why Miami? Anyone who has been to Stockholm in November wouldn’t ask,” said Helena Norrman, senior vice president and chief communications officer at Ericsson. On a practical level, the answer is clear. When catering to an international clientele, choose a relevant city.
“Miami is the center point between Latin American and North America,” said Angel Ruiz, head of Ericsson’s North America Region.
The Networked Society City Index ranked 31 countries based on information and communications technology maturity versus leverage from economic, social and environmental development. With the updated index, Ericsson hopes to highlight the relevance of infrastructure like high-speed connections, fiber-optic broadband and mobile phone data for urban development.
Of the three US cities ranked, Miami (12th) comes in third behind New York (eighth) and Los Angeles (11th). Sweden’s own Stockholm is ranked first.
Information and communications technology improvements could already be benefiting Miami. By opening up communications and data systems within the county, transportation and emergency response services could drastically improve, said Angel Petisco, Miami-Dade County’s chief information officer.
With accessible real time data, first responders to a fire or scene of a crime could be able to download building plans to choose the best points of entry and identify where potential areas for risk are.
“The day that we can do that organically, dynamically, across the air, is the day I’ll be able to satisfy that request,” Mr. Petisco said.
About 120 guests attended the conference, and 105 rooms at the Raleigh Hotel at 1775 Collins Ave. were booked for the event. Rooms were also booked at the W Hotel South Beach at 2201 Collins Ave.
Construction on the Beach isn’t atypical, but buildings aren’t usually built with an intended lifespan of three days. The “Hexagon,” a white pop-up free-standing pavilion built specifically for this event, was constructed next to the W and took five weeks to build, said an Ericsson representative.
“Typically [companies] use our conference space. In this case they wanted to make an out-of-the-box facility,” said Amaury Piedra, general manager at the W. Construction didn’t disrupt daily operations of the hotel, said Mr. Piedra, and it was taken care of by Eventstar Structures Inc., a design firm based in Florida.
Made largely of polystyrene – a commonly used industrial plastic – and aluminum sheeting, dismantling of Ericsson’s Hexagon will be much quicker than its construction. Unlike information and communications technology, which Ericsson and company view as integral for urban development, Miami included, the Hexagon has a Nov. 29 deadline to clear the area before Art Basel takes over.