Alan Miller: New ‘Smart Tech’ section helps navigate rapid changes in technology – Opinion – The Columbus Dispatch

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Alan Miller: New ‘Smart Tech’ section helps navigate rapid changes in technology – Opinion – The Columbus Dispatch


Fast and furious is how technology comes at us these days, and we at The Dispatch want to arm you with information that could help you embrace it.

Perhaps it’s all relative: The move from horse and buggy to automobile was a big leap and learning curve for the people of that era. Moving from oil lamps to electricity was another. From outhouse to indoor plumbing yet another. And for some folks, such as my farmer grandparents, all of those things came at about the same time.

That might have seemed like a dizzying pace in the first half of the past century, but if they were here today, I think they’d agree that those advancements came at a slow walk compared with today’s race toward such technology-laden devices as self-driving cars and smart speakers that turn on lights and read us the news.

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It’s a fascinating, sometimes mystifying world we live in today.

A week from today, on June 17, we will launch a new section in print and on Dispatch.com to provide you with stories, photos, graphics and videos that we hope will help demystify some of the changes you are experiencing.

The “Smart Tech” section was inspired in part by the Columbus Smart City initiative.

Greater Columbus won a $40 million Department of Transportation grant and a $10 million grant from Vulcan Inc. to develop intelligent transportation systems that likely will result in driverless vehicles as well as roads, stoplights and other devices communicating with one another digitally to improve traffic flow.

The city of Columbus and the Columbus Partnership, a group of corporate and civic leaders, are leading the effort and have secured commitments and partnerships that total more than $500 million — about $23 million of that in cash — to further the Smart Columbus effort.

We at The Dispatch were brainstorming the best ways to cover the multifaceted Smart City initiative and its effects on the region, and while covering the actions of the Smart Columbus organization and related city and corporate partners is important, that approach doesn’t necessarily get at the impact of the related technology on your daily life.

Covering the development and implementation of strategies to make a smarter transportation system — and the spending of millions of dollars to do that — is important to inform the community about progress toward the big goal and to perform our watchdog function.

But it isn’t necessarily all that exciting, and it doesn’t tell you about the technology or the mindset at the heart of this big, regional experiment in developing the smart city of the future.

That led us to the idea of Smart Tech, a monthly section in print that also will be published online and updated frequently on Dispatch.com with all sorts of news about technology and how it is helping or affecting us daily.

While the Smart City initiative is focused on transportation, and our first edition of Smart Tech will carry a transportation theme, our technology section going forward will be much broader and deeper than just transportation-related technology.

We’ll explore how technology is changing everything from agriculture to worship, from communication to health care and from home products to grocery shopping.

The section will include staff-written stories and the best of the wire-service stories on these topics. We’ll also include a technology advice column.

We plan to apply a theme to the section each month. Our current plan is to focus on the following: transportation in June, health and science in July, entertainment in August, home services in September, environment and energy in October, communication in November and finance and banking in December.

That doesn’t mean that every story in the section each month will be tied to those themes, but at least some will.

Technology touches almost every aspect of our lives, and our goal with Smart Tech is to help you better understand how it all works and how you can benefit from it.

Alan D. Miller is editor of The Dispatch.

amiller@dispatch.com

@dispatcheditor



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