Plans for a Smart City

Photo credit: Karamie Sullivan

Photo credit: Karamie Sullivan

Jai-Anna Carter

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Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin delivered the State of the City address at Columbia College’s Cottingham Theater, Jan. 31.

The speech provided insight into the new development and connection the city is making to bring life to the North Main corridor. By acknowledging some of Columbia’s accomplishments and recognitions, Benjamin included Columbia as one of the top 30 best small cities in America, according to National Geographic and the best city in the country to visit in April 2018, according to Expedia. I can see Columbia’s growth as a community in its vibrancy and diversity.

From the speech, I was excited to hear about the soon-to-come 5G internet access and the advancement of our police department. Benjamin said the City of Columbia’s driven to create the three “I’s”: Innovation, Infrastructure, and Inclusion. Benjamin discussed that these three elements are what a “smart city” compasses. Frankly, I’ll be proud to see the community evolve. As a result of this evolution, Benjamin announced that there will be educational sessions about economic techniques to recycle, convert energy, and implement a food policy the committee can drastically change the way food is distributed. I see the neighbors becoming empowered through this knowledge by interacting in inclusion.

As a person who commutes to North Columbia, I see disconnect from the children to the adults. A few ways Benjamin suggested to bring people of all ages together was to provide new infrastructure roads with added bicycle lanes and sidewalks. I believe creating multiple ways of transportation makes the travel more enjoyable. I’m sure we would all love to be families going on bike rides to explore the expansion of the city’s parks, such as Finlay Park. The senior citizens at the up and coming senior home would be glad to have a permanent residency close to families without transitioning across town to a retirement home.

Honestly, Columbia’s existing population will continue to grow with new infrastructure. This would allow the historical, vacant areas to be occupied by more commercial businesses. I was born and raised in Columbia, and I’ve seen the relationships among friends and neighbors. By implementing Benjamin’s “three I’s,” North Columbia can be vested in safe communities filled with historical value, social equity, and new explorations in new career opportunities. I believe that with these changes, the heart of South Carolina will become a seamless paradise.

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