Episode 13: Making Smart Cities Smarter - How the Virtuous Cycle of Innovation will Transform Our Cities

Season Two | Episode 13

Making Smart Cities Smarter: How Innovation Transforms

Smart cities powered by space tech will make them smarter, allowing for real-time connectivity in a way that we can only imagine while creating living environments customized to every individual's needs.

Thank you to our guest on this episode of Lockheed Martin Space Makers for his time and expertise:

Peter Penegor from Lockheed Martin

Episode Notes

To dig deeper into some of the topics referenced in today’s episode, please follow these links:

Hope and Opportunity: Raising the Science of Space at the Speed of Innovation

Blurring the Karman Line: Bringing Digital Transformation to Space

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Host: Welcome to Lockheed Martin Space Makers, the podcast that takes you out of this world for an inside look at some of our most challenging and innovative missions. My name is Ben, and I'll be your host.

[00:00:14] In season two, we explore Lockheed Martin's bold new vision of a future we call "Space 2050." We partnered with our Advanced Technology Center to bring you an inside look at the innovations and technologies we are developing to make that future a reality. Because getting there is just the beginning.

[00:00:35] It's estimated that's half of the Earth's population live in a smart city, 3.5 billion people. It's projected that by 2030 that number will rise to over 5 billion. So how will the future of space make smart cities well, smarter? My colleague Natalya Oleksik takes a closer look.

[00:00:58] Natalya: We are here with Space Makers and I'm speaking with Pete Penegor. Can you tell us what you do at Lockheed Martin?

[00:01:04] Pete Penegor: Yeah. So I'm Pete Penegor, I'm the smart city lead for Commercial and Civil Space’s Advanced Programs development group at Lockheed Martin Space. And I've been in this role about a little under a half a year. Before that I was a structural dynamicist on the Orion Program for the last seven years about.

[00:01:21] Natalya: What does your day look like when you come in the door? What kind of challenges do you tackle on a daily basis?

[00:01:26] Pete Penegor: Working in smart cities is pretty new for Lockheed. So, day-to-day, a lot of the work is trying to figure out where we're going and, and the best business models that will help us get there. I think along with the technical side of things, you need to think about how you're implementing a lot of these solutions. And with the smart city side of it, we have a lot of great technical solutions out there at Lockheed stretching across the military side of the commercial civil side. We're really trying to brainstorm how we get to where we're going by integrating these technologies and really building the smart city of the future.

[00:01:57] Natalya: So, let's paint a picture about what that looks like just in a high level.

[00:02:01] Pete Penegor: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

[00:02:02] Natalya: When you're talking about smart cities, you're talking about cities where?

[00:02:05] Pete Penegor: It doesn't even have to be a city.

[00:02:07] Natalya: Okay.

[00:02:07] Pete Penegor: So, let's start there. It could be a smart economy. It could be a smart town. I think a lot of the times when people talk smart cities, they think these big metropolitan areas, and I've seen a stat that said 70% of people are gonna be living in a smart city by the year 2050. But that doesn't necessarily mean they're grouping up in these large cities, that might mean that the smart city is more bleeding over into rural areas and smaller towns and areas that you wouldn't expect. But I did bring a, a couple definitions of a smart city that I like that I think kind of frame... that will help frame that for everyone. So, one of them that's more the base level definition. Smart city is one that uses electronic methods to measure data and uses that data to manage assets, resources, and services efficiently.

[00:02:49] Natalya: Okay.

[00:02:50] Pete Penegor: That's kind of the base level, but I think this is something that can spread to a lot of different areas, rural areas, towns, not just large cities. So, I think it's important to think about what the solution is targeted for. So, another definition about the smart and smart cities is that smart is defined as the efficient use of digital technologies to provide prioritized services and benefits to meet community goals, such as economic vitality, equity, resilience, sustainability, or the quality of life.

[00:03:15] Natalya: Okay.

[00:03:15] Pete Penegor: So, I think that's, it's important to keep in mind who these solutions are targeted for. It's really us in our daily lives.

[00:03:21] Natalya: The solutions you're talking about, we are finding up in spaces. We venture further into deep space and create technologies that help us gather information from, and resources from there. Is that correct?

[00:03:32] Pete Penegor: Yeah. I think there's a lot of alignment in the technologies that we're using in space exploration and smart cities. I could list off numerous examples. One, I think it's a matter of... When you're doing deep space exploration, it's a matter of limited resources, right? And that's what we see in a smart city is, we have limited resources or we wanna use our resources as efficiently as possible. Like those definitions, definitions we're saying. So, it's about for, food, for instance, in the agricultural industry. How do you grow and how do you maintain your food resources as close as possible to where they're being used?

[00:04:05] So, if you think of deep space exploration, you're gonna think of some sort of vertical farm that is helping grow and sustain the astronaut population maybe on the surface of the Moon. And that, those same technologies that are automating the harvesting of those agricultural resources and efficiently using all of your water, you know, the seeds that you have to grow from, those same technologies can be applied in urban farming and what you'd see in the middle of a city, and how you can really cut supply chains down and get what people need closer to where they're living.

[00:04:36] Natalya: That's connectivity, communications, data gathering, all of those things. Can you dig a little deeper into what, you say technologies, but what technologies?

[00:04:44] Pete Penegor: Yeah. So, like I was saying, you, we're doing a lot with different technologies to connect things better. I think a big one that is very relevant to smart cities is 5G. You hear about 5G coming. What that really does is it allows connectivity to a lot of different devices at once, and that's the definition of an internet of things network. You're connecting all these different, pieces of sensors or what have you that are collecting data. You're connecting those together in real time, so that one, one sensor, or if you're in your car, you're connected to an array of sensors, not just in your car, like using as example. Smart cars of the future have tons of sensors all over them to detect where you're going, where there's things you may run into. But if you had a flow of data coming in from every other car on the highway, that's just only gonna improve things going down the line.

[00:05:30] So, 5G is one capability there. Right now, Lockheed Martin's doing a lot with remote sensing that is very applicable to smart cities as well. We have a lot of technologies that can do that remote sensing. One great example is, you know, fire detection technology. So, if you live in a forested area, that would be of great benefit to have a real time look at the area around you and know when there's some sort of, you know, catastrophe coming in the form of a fire. Being able to identify that as early as possible and tying that into a system that automatically or in the future may deploy drones to go fight that fire in a completely automated sense. It would be very beneficial. And so those are the kind... I see a lot of the technologies for smart cities really falling into the category of communications and remote sensing. I think those are the two big areas. But it's really about using those communication assets maybe through a space layer to connect all that data together and really make better conclusions on how to manage things back on Earth.

[00:06:27] Natalya: So, the remote sensing network will live in space, correct, but it will benefit Earth? And where are we on that? How close are we to getting that kind of network activated and instrumental in all of these things that we envision?

[00:06:40] Pete Penegor: It's hard because space is expensive, and you really have to have goals aligned to get some of these remote sensing technologies into space. Like the technology is there. It's just a matter of launching it and the cost behind launching it and making sure that you have a customer that can pay for it. But things like geo carb that's, that we're helping build a sensor for is monitoring air pollution. We have an array of sensors we've deployed to Mars, for example, to do remote sensing there, but we don't even have some of those here looking back at Earth.

[00:07:07] Natalya: So, there's work being done up in space right now with remote sensing. But at the moment they sound like discreet or separate systems. Is that correct? So, there's one looking at potentially Mars. There's another one looking at the environment on Earth, but they're not connected right now.

[00:07:23] Pete Penegor: Yeah, exactly and they're all designed for very specific purposes with a specific science objective in mind. A lot of those systems are trying to openly share their data, but they're not connected in some sort of, uh, greater network that's drawing better conclusions for them. And that's happening to some extent. But I think doing more of that is really the key to unlocking the power of what you think of a smart city is connecting all that data together to do more with your data.

[00:07:48] Natalya: Is it something like, let's just say the state of Kansas has a higher need than other states to know about supercells, because of their history of tornadoes. So, is this something where maybe a state government would invest in their own particular, not satellite, but satellite so that it can help them?

[00:08:09] Pete Penegor: Yeah. You need to think about the community that is using these technologies. And exactly like Kansas may be way more interested in supercell coming through than a desert area in Arizona or something like that. A heavily forested area, and maybe in the Rockies is gonna be way more concerned about forest fires. You need to take into account what the community values and how you align your smart city solutions around those. I think things like this will happen at a state level, at least in the United States with the federal infrastructure funding that's available or going to be available is not something that the federal government is gonna direct. It's gonna be something that they allocate to states because they know that those states know what they need. And that money is gonna be spent on upgrading and improving infrastructure. And those kind of infrastructure improvements will go right along with smart city developments.

[00:08:59] I think the other important fact when you're thinking about smart city improvements, the National Institute of Standards and Technology actually just released a report defining their key performance indicators for smart city developments and how to apply those. And the biggest piece of those key performance indicators were understanding the values of the community and making sure that those values are tied to your key performance indicators when you're assessing a new smart city initiative. I think one great example of that happening already is the Copernicus Program, which is the European Union's Earth Observation Program that is doing a lot of different Earth observation techniques with space-based satellites and not just doing the recording of that data, but they're compiling it and making it available for free to the public to do various things across Europe. You know, help with land management, track resources, all of that. And I think it's a great blueprint for how you can apply a lot of these remote sensing techniques, 'cause it's not just about recording the data, it's about getting it into a format that's digestible and people can act on and disseminating that information as well.

[00:10:05] Natalya: Is there a whole other level of solutions that's private industry oriented?

[00:10:08] Pete Penegor: Oh yeah. A lot of smart city technologies these communication aspects can be applied to manufacturing. I think a lot of what we're thinking with communication solutions for smart cities is providing always on connectivity. So, any sort of outage in power or communication, especially in a world where you have smart manufacturing going on and they're doing their own internet of things with all their devices and their factory, anytime you lose power or communications, that may force you to shut your entire manufacturing operations down. And the restart of all that may take some time and that time is lost money. And so there are opportunities to solve some of those commercial problems.

[00:10:46] Natalya: What other technologies are we working on that will help these Earth based smart cities?

[00:10:51] Pete Penegor: Yeah. I think the remote sensing in the communication piece is thinking about how you can apply existing space technologies directly to help smart cities. But I think the other side of it, at least from our perspective is how do you align technology development for things we normally do like space exploration. How do you align that stuff with smart cities as well? And I think a big piece there that is obviously applicable is AI and machine learning. You know, we're doing a lot there. I think Orion has a couple of different projects with flight software review. I know we did some AI and machine learning techniques and applied them to Orion's drop tests when it got dropped in a pool to predict results.

[00:11:30] On a high level, AI and machine learning is about taking mass amounts of data and drawing better conclusions from it. And that is so applicable in everything from smart cities to space exploration. And I think we're looking at ways to align those types of technology developments so we can apply them in ways that benefit our traditional businesses and new ones here at home that benefit everybody. We're already applying AI and machine learning techniques, but thing like power beaming, uh, could be very useful for applications on the lunar surface, but also back here on Earth. And those are just in their infancy.

[00:12:02] Natalya: Tell us a little bit about power beaming. I've never heard of it. So-

[00:12:05] Pete Penegor: [laughs] Yeah. Well, just like any sort of communication signal, you're sending a beam of energy. This is just a very powerful beam of energy. And at least right now it's not very efficient. So, you lose a lot of energy. But going down the line, we may find better ways to create energy with nuclear power. I mean, that's something that is being looked at to be used on the lunar surface. And when we have more efficient power sources and maybe we don't care as much about the energy loss, that power beaming technology may be viable and that's only gonna improve. But we're, that's something... That's an example of something that's in that's infancy now.

[00:12:37] But we have a lot of technologies like AI and machine learning that we're applying now already. So, I think, you know, we have a large breadth of the full technical readiness level or TRL level for a lot of different things, and we're trying to find new ways to apply those back on Earth. And I think that's the hardest part is, some of the applications of these technologies on Earth were never thought of before. And that's what we're trying to do now.

[00:12:57] Natalya: What do you think is the game changer coming everyone's way that we don't even know about yet? Is it that within 10 years, we'll all be driving cars that have remote sensing capability?

[00:13:08] Pete Penegor: In my mind, I don't want there to be a massive moment where all of a sudden everything changes. I think a lot of this stuff should be happening in the background, and the everyday person... You shouldn't be worried about the detailed technical side. You should be worried about getting the information you need in the quickest, most efficient way possible. I mean, there's a lot of applications in the virtual reality in the AR, the augmented reality world. We're talking about an internet of things world. Imagine you're at the airport when a plane's coming in, every once in a while, a plane needs to have some sort of maintenance. It obviously needs to be refueled. There are things that need to be checked. In  a world where that plane's connected seamlessly through some sort of 5G network, in an internet of things that data's coming off the plane before it's even landing.

[00:13:50] That data could be transmitted to a system that's telling the technician that's gonna be working on that plane, what needs to be inspected, how much fuel needs to be loaded, what other things need to be checked. And if there was some sort of maintenance that needs to be done, maybe that maintenance and the work instructions for that maintenance are sent directly to this technician's augmented reality headset. And they just look at a part on the plane and says, “unbolt this, unbolt that, look at this. This is what you're looking for. Here's a picture of what a common failure here looks like.” There's so many applications of augmented reality and VR in a smart city as well. And those are also technologies that we're looking at too.

[00:14:28] So that same example of the airplane... I know on Orion, we're already using augmented reality in similar ways to track inspections, to track installations, to make sure we're doing everything right, and also record the inspections. 'Cause there's always an issue where something was torched down just a little different, or something looks a little off. And if you have the ability to go back in time and look at the video from the actual installation, from the technician's eyes, that's extremely valuable. Even in the augments aand virtual reality worlds. There's so many use cases we haven't even explored yet.

[00:14:58] Natalya: So, tell us a little bit about the value of Orion having that on the Artemis missions. How valuable is that to drive this forward as an applicable technology that will be essentially spread out to all humanity?

[00:15:11] Pete Penegor: But yeah, it's extremely valuable. You need to put these things to of use, you need to get hours under the belt to the people using 'em. You need to work out the kinks and that takes time and having opportunities to do that is important. And being able to do it on such an important piece of hardware, like Orion is amazing to be able to do. When we're looking at the Artemis program and, and what we're gonna be doing on the lunar surface, I think there's opportunities to test augmented reality as well. You know, just having the visor of an astronaut be able to tell them exactly what's going on in their lunar base, seeing different pieces of the lunar infrastructure and data coming from those would be extremely valuable and save so much time when time is very precious there. And being able to test that out in an isolated environment where you have a limited amount of backup hardware, and all troubleshooting needs to be done remotely, I think that's extremely valuable. 

[00:16:00] Natalya: So, I have a broad range question for you. We are talking about smart cities; we are talking about Earth and we are talking about where all humans live right now. But we know from our conversations with other scientists at Lockheed, that while this may be your focus and the technologies that you are helping develop and predict are focused on how that will help Earth and help cities from everything, from medicine to traffic congestion, to food sustainment. Can those cities go up onto space?

[00:16:28] Pete Penegor: I think in an ideal future, they may be interchangeable. In the near term though, there are aspects that go both ways, things you would wanna apply from existing smart cities to a lunar outpost or a Martian base and vice versa. One might be water filtration. We're doing some work into trying to figure out the best ways to filter lunar regolith out of ice that we would collect on the lunar surface. And I'm sure people have heard stories from Apollo about how the Apollo astronaut suits were torn apart by the lunar regolith 'cause it was so sharp and cutting to those suits. It's not easy to filter water that has stuff like that in it, and among that everything else that would require it to get to a level that's drinkable. We wanna align our technology developments that apply to smart cities with things that are happening in space exploration and looking at how a smart city might exist on the lunar surface like water filtration, same thing with air purification. Those are all things that apply directly to our lives here on Earth.

[00:17:27] Natalya: What about mobility?

[00:17:28] Pete Penegor: That, that's a great one. Yeah, mobility, same way. I mean, before we put humans back in the Moon again, and while they're there, we're gonna have rovers helping 'em out and you may have fleets of little rovers doing mining operations for ice, and you need to control where they are. You need to know where they are. And that same technique is already being applied in delivery drones that you see on college campuses, that you see videos of tipping over and falling down and people interacting with them. But, like, those are great use cases for how you control such systems. Like what happens when it tips over? How does it flip itself back up? Do you do the same thing on the Moon? Like, the more you do this stuff, the more you test it, you know, the more insight you gain and the more you realize how else you can use those technologies.

[00:18:07] Natalya: Pete, everything you're talking about is... The vision of the future is incredible. It, it includes smart cities on Earth, smart cities on the Moon and beyond. It includes connectivity like we've never seen before, data that helps humanity. What about security though?

[00:18:24] Pete Penegor: Yeah, that's a really important question. Protecting a lot of those systems has to do with the communication networks that they reside on. Are these secure networks really secure? Do you have solutions in place that prevent people from gaining access to the network and moving laterally through the system to other things that they should not be accessing? That's definitely an area that we're focused heavily on. And obviously Lockheed has a lot of experience in designing these types of systems for military applications, but we're looking at how we can take those applications and use them to protect us at home.

[00:18:53] Another piece of it is just personal data. People don't want their data getting out there, but if you're using your data in a way that is collaborative and it aggregates it with other data, there's so much you can do with it. And you can be so much more efficient. I think that is important to think about when we're designing smart cities and how you're bringing all of these pieces of data together. In our mind, we think always on connectivity is extremely important and that comes in a secure way and a resilient way. You wanna be able to protect yourself and you wanna be resilient against any unforeseeable disasters that shut down pieces of your communication system. And if you have such a resilient and secure communication system in place, that is the backbone that you can build a lot of these smart city solutions off of. That is a key piece and the next step that we need to implement.

[00:19:41] Natalya: And so you're in the thick of it. And that's very exciting. What gets you up in the morning? What excites you the most about this?

[00:19:47] Pete Penegor: I think, you know, I'm in a position where I can help craft the strategy around this. And I think any solution we create in smart cities is gonna benefit a lot of people. Everyone is gonna see benefits from smart city technologies being applied and improving our day to day lives. And I think that's something that really brings me into work every day, and the nerd in me also love the fact that I get to engage with some extremely sharp people, learn about things and get, as they say, just dangerous enough to talk about it-

[00:20:17] Natalya: [laughs]

[00:20:17] Pete Penegor: ... in a lot of different areas. It's the ability to improve the world that we live in and do it with some of the coolest technology that I've ever seen.

[00:20:25] Natalya: Well, thank you, Pete. I've been speaking with Pete Penegor about smart art cities and the future of space, and all of the technologies we're bringing to that future to move humankind forward. Thank you.

[00:20:35] Pete Penegor: Thanks so much for having me.

[00:20:37] Natalya: Smart cities powered by space tech will allow for real-time connectivity in a way that we can only imagine. We'll have smart environments customized to the city down to an individual's needs. Artificial Intelligence will play a significant role in making all this possible.

[00:20:55] What are the biggest challenges of integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into everything we do on Earth and in space? How is AI critical to establishing everything from human colonies on the Moon – to trade routes to Mars? Find out more in our next episode, "Intelligent Life."

[00:21:13] Host: You've been listening to Pete Penegor at Lockheed Martin, and Pete, is a space maker. Whether you're a software engineer, systems, engineer, finance, or HR professional, we need space makers like you to make the seemingly impossible missions a reality. Please visit this episode’s show notes to learn more about what you just heard in this episode or the careers available at Lockheed Martin. If you enjoyed this show, please like and subscribe so others can find us and follow along for more out of this world stories. To learn more about our missions, products and people, follow our new Twitter handle @LMSpace and visit lockheedmartin.com/space. Join us on the next episode as we introduce you to more space makers.

[00:22:00] Space Makers is a production of Lockheed Martin Space.

[00:22:03] It's executive produced by Pavan Desai.

[00:22:06] Senior producer is Natalya Oleksik.

[00:22:08] Senior producer, writer, and host is Ben Dinsmore.

[00:22:11] Sound design and audio mastered by Julian Giraldo.

[00:22:14] Graphic design by Tim Roesch.

[00:22:16] Marketing and recruiting by Joe Portnoy, Shannon Myers, Mallory Richardson, and Stephanie Dixon.

[00:22:21] A huge thanks to all the communication professionals at Lockheed Martin who helped make these stories possible.

[00:22:28] Thanks for joining us and see you next time.