UW-Eau Claire proposals regarding energy-tracking software and a regional video network were among the 30 second-round winners announced recently in Foxconn Technology Group’s Smart Cities-Smart Futures competition.

The competition is intended to promote innovative ideas to enhance quality of life, improve working environments, inspire creative city planning, promote sustainable energy solutions and expand transportation networks and living spaces in Wisconsin.

Second-round winners from UW-Eau Claire were materials science and entrepreneurship major Grey Larson, with a proposal in the energy and environment category; and Mike Rindo, assistant chancellor for facilities and university relations, with a project about education. All second-round winners will receive $1,500 to help further develop their projects, according to a Foxconn news release.

Larson and software engineering and information systems major Alex Stout, both seniors, submitted their proposal on behalf of the seven students involved with Clearwater Labs, a software consulting group the pair founded on campus.

One of Clearwater Labs’ first projects involves building an energy dashboard to gather energy usage data from across campus and put it in a user-friendly database. They believe the green initiative has the potential to help the university reduce energy costs and better track the effectiveness of conservation projects.

“We’re pretty excited about this project because we think it has a lot of potential for stakeholders across campus,” Larson said, adding that Clearwater Labs already has gathered more than 6 million data points dating back to 2013.

Rindo is part of a team entry that also includes, MJ Brukardt, special assistant to the chancellor and executive director of marketing and planning; Kimera Way, executive director of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation; and Kent Gerberich, associate director of learning and technology services and technical support services manager.

The group’s proposal involves creation of a northwest Wisconsin 8K video network that would use the existing Chippewa Valley Internetworking Consortium. The project would focus on installation of 8K video technology in strategic locations in the region that stretches about 100 miles north to south and 50 miles east to west, with the ability to reach a population base of more than 315,000, including sparsely populated rural communities.

The proposal calls for the “hub” of the network to be located in Eau Claire, where institutions and organizations such as UW-Eau Claire, Chippewa Valley Technical College, Mayo Clinic Health System Northwest, Pablo Center at the Confluence and the YMCA would originate programming not readily available or accessible in smaller cities or rural communities within the market. Partnerships between the organizations could enable unique and coordinated programming offerings such as medical training, consultation and rehabilitation; transmission of live performances from the Pablo Center; teaching Advanced Placement classes to students in rural school districts that cannot currently offer AP courses; and instructor/therapist-led fitness and physical rehabilitation sessions.

With estimates indicating 8K video provides resolution that would be the maximum a human eye can perceive, sharing programming via the 8K video network “would literally make you feel like you are looking at the individual(s) face-to-face in the same room,” a summary of the proposal states.

Second-round competitors were required to write a 1,000-word essay and create a two-minute video pitch about how their idea could be used in a smart city.

The 88 first-round winners, selected from a total of 325 submissions from across the state, already received $500 apiece. Ideas were submitted by students, faculty and staff from UW System campuses, technical colleges and independent colleges statewide.

Second-round winners now move on to the final round of the competition, in which 50 judges will evaluate proposals based on clarity, impact, marketability and other criteria by the end of April. Up to 16 winners will be announced and receive $5,000 and technical support to further develop and implement their ideas, the company said.

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