Military bases, occupying large expanses of land and providing housing, work and leisure facilities for thousands of people, share many of the same characteristics as cities and many of the same needs as well.
“A smart base employs technologies’”artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, machine automation and robotics, and data analysis, to name a few’”to improve the quality and speed of its functions and services. Taken together, they collect and process large amounts of data that enable more economical operations and help military staffers make better decisions.”
The US military is already adopting smart city solutions and approaches for use in military installations. During 2016, the US army has installed a 250-acre smart solar energy farm on Fort Stewart, Georgia, which can allow the base to operate independent of the local power grid in case of an emergency, and is also making use of renewable energy. Nearby Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the biggest military base in the world, is testing driverless vehicles for the transportation of wounded personnel, with the aim of later using them on actual battlefields as well.
Energy is an important field in which military bases can take lessons from smart cities. With the US Department of Defense being responsible for over 30 million acres of land (more than the total area of the state of Pennsylvania) and hundreds of thousands of buildings, the use of smart city technologies to manage power, water and constructions costs can provide extreme efficiency. The US Army’ s ongoing smart energy program is estimated to have saved nearly $150 million in costs.
Efficiency and quality of life is another field in which smart city technology can be applied to military bases. Smart sensors that distinguish between base personnel and transient visitors can help reduce congestion in the base during rush hours or during large public events that attract visitors. Smart sensors in garbage cars or on the shelves of stores can facilitate waste management and automate inventory requests for new items.
Of course, the most critical area in which bases can benefit from smart technology is security, especially when it comes to terrorist threats. A smart base can have networked cameras and license plate recognition sensors that recognize new visitors and direct them to entry gates with tighter security measures. In the event of an actual attack, a smart base can immediately notify emergency response services within the base to deal with the threat, base officials and services to lock down facilities such as schools and hospitals, and base personnel about which areas to avoid.
At the same time, smart technology and the use of smart devices for military installations carries risks, as digital infrastructure can be a major target for hacking attacks. Extra security measures and rigorous security protocols, however, can more than offset these difficulties. Smart bases are safer and more efficient, at a lower cost for taxpayers.
The original article can be found on Wired.