Smart Cities & Government

The Digital Divide needs compute, not just wifi


Cities, States and other Government entities are grappling with how to take advantage of technology to provide safety, security and value-added services to their citizens. 

There are myriad software vendors, IoT vendors, and hardware vendors that are more than willing to install their wares in your domain. What does the landscape look like when everything is installed?  In many cities, it looks like a clutter of proprietary cabinets and antennas littering the landscape, with citizens wondering what value they have received in exchange for the new “tech litter” blighting the landscape. 

The Digital Divide is a critical problem globally, and if it isn’t addressed in the right way, it will have a detrimental impact upon society, the economy, and government. Bridging the Digital Divide and establishing equity by ensuring that all citizens have access to the internet is a multifaceted challenge. Some states and municipalities have limited connectivity in the way of fiber optic cables. Running these new conduits requires tricky planning, is extremely expensive, and can even disrupt traffic flow while the construction is going on. Finally, the “last mile” problem still exists, because if fiber is run to the edge of a sparsely populated wilderness, the citizens living in that area will still not be able to connect without an enormous additional investment that fiber carriers have no incentive to complete.


Historically, government infrastructure initiatives have been single purpose. For instance, a city CIO wants to solve a problem, such as gunshot detection or object dumping.

The RFI, RFP goes out, a number of vendors might respond, and one is selected. The system gets built as a single purpose solution. Hardware and sensors are installed, and the system does what it was designed to do. But what about next year’s project? And the year after that?  Can existing hardware and sensors be used? Typically “no” –  systems are installed for a specific purpose, and any additional use case requires a new, additional system. Before long, cities are burdened with maintaining multiple, single purpose systems. Multiply this approach by multiple city departments, and then factor in state and federal initiatives. Before long, an army of technology consultants are essentially permanently employed to maintain these systems.

Digital Divide can be closed through the systematic introduction of increased compute capabilities, Edge Intelligence, Serverless Computing, and broadband access via wifi. This has to be a comprehensive strategy, funded by both public funds and private investment and more than wifi is needed to bridge the Digital Divide.  

Bridging the Digital Divide is not just about connectivity; compute and storage are key to the equation. If the nearest data center is 600 miles away, even with great connectivity, things are going to feel very slow.  Why? Because each software request from a phone, IoT device, or web browser has to travel 600 miles to the datacenter, then get processed, and then return 600 miles back to the user or device – that’s 1,200 miles!  Bridging the divide is more easily served by providing local storage and compute, and using whatever connectivity exists. Connectivity will feel fast, even without all the expensive new fiber.  A municipality with a localized compute and storage network can provide a great user experience for its citizens and, in many cases, avoid the huge investment in a new network.


EDJX has come up with a technology breakthrough to enable cities, states, and countries to solve both the problem of multiple single-purpose solutions, as well bridge the Digital Divide.

EdjOS, our multi-tenant peer-to-peer operating system, runs on inexpensive, rugged computers that can be installed anywhere, with any level of connectivity. This includes 5G, 4G, 3G, fiber, wifi, and even satellite connectivity for remote locations. Any type of sensor can be installed to any of our EdjBlock nodes. For instance, one node might have cameras and sonic gunshot detection sensors, while another node has air quality and wildfire or flood detection sensors. Once installed, this network of nodes and sensors becomes a powerful, serverless edge compute and storage environment that can support almost any software application. The EDJX system moves the data center to the edge, into neighborhoods or even remote locations. Nodes can be installed on rooftops, cell phone towers, solar powered poles, traffic boxes – mostly anywhere. EDJX EdjBlock nodes become swiss army knives for your city, state, or nation, with unlimited uses and configurations.

Software written on the EDJX serverless edge platform continues to run seamlessly, even if lightning, fire, or vandalism destroys multiple nodes. The environment is not only available to every department of the state but also available to the public. Computer installation and maintenance jobs are created, and the next generation of high-tech jobs are fostered by sponsoring K-12 software developer subscriptions to the local schools, which builds trust with the community. Applications that benefit the community are crowd-sourced. You no longer face five or six cabinets on a pole but a single network supporting everyone’s needs.

In developing nations and economically challenged  states and communities, building an edge compute and storage network using rugged computers is the most economical solution to bridge the divide. Erecting a fiber optic network and attracting large cloud data centers is not an option for most developing countries. Small form factor edge computing infrastructure, tied to smaller data pipes back to the cloud, is the only way to go.

For more information, please contact us.