Johnson City Commission announces ‘smart pole’ partnership

Local

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Johnson City Commissioners voted unanimously to join a pilot program with TVA and Brightridge to install what they call smart poles in downtown Johnson City.

The poles are customizable and can be outfitted with many different components to improve public safety, collect data, and provide connectivity.

TVA will fully fund the poles downtown as part of a $335,000 grant. Similar poles have been in use in several metropolitan areas around the country.

The partnership will require the city to provide TVA with data collected by the poles as part of the pilot program.

Commissioner John Hunter said the program provides the city with an important opportunity.

“To be the pilot program, is great that we can be a part of something like that,” Hunter said.

The poles include cameras, speakers, pedestrian counters, parking kiosks and even a Wi-Fi hotspot.

They also include lights that can cover the streets and sidewalks.

Hunter thinks the lights could help provide a barrier to downtown crime if the city chooses to use some of those features.

“They are also helpful for the monitoring of potential illegal activity, which will again promote a downtown that feels safe for people to come to,” Hunter said.

It has not yet been determined how many will be installed downtown. They must be installed by the end of 2022.

Commissioners also passed several measures in their second reading unanimously, including changes to the Johnson City noise ordinance.

Updated amendments now make it easier for the city and police to enforce the ordinance. It implements the use of a sound measurement procedure to determine if a noise is above the city limit.

There are also new sections for construction, power tools and motor vehicles.

Commissioners also banned the use of tobacco or vapor products on public property. That means residents can no longer smoke or vape in public parks, playgrounds or any public property accessible to children.

Violators can be fined up to $50.

Another ordinance moving to third reading allows Johnson City Commissioners to grant temporary beer licenses to events operating on city-owned property. Those events must be 100 feet away from any school or church. The ordinance includes Freedom Hall.

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