Does it Smart? Lesson from Intertraffic

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Does it Smart? Lesson from Intertraffic

I’m always asked “what is new at Intertraffic?” After walking around for three days, the answer is “Everything is “SMART.” It is like half the booths have added the word “Smart” to their titles or descriptions. SMART parking, SMART Sensors, SMART Technology, SMART gates, SMART controls, SMART apps and of course the ubiquitous SMART City.

When you ask the denizens of these vendors what SMART means, they look confused, then say something like “you know, our technology is SMART.”

I decided to look it up.

Smart

adjective

smart·er, smart·est a. Having or showing intelligence; bright.

  1. Canny and shrewd in dealings with others: a smart negotiator.
  2. Amusingly clever; witty: a smart quip; a lively, smart conversation.
  3. Impertinent; insolent: That’s enough of your smart talk.
  4. Energetic or quick in movement: a smart pace.
  5. Fashionable; elegant: a smart suit; a smart restaurant; the smart set.
  6. Capable of making adjustments that resemble those resulting from human decisions, chiefly by means of electronic sensors and computer technology: smart missiles; smart machines.

intransitive verb

smart·ed, smart·ing, smarts

  1. To cause a sharp, usually superficial, stinging pain: The slap delivered to my face smarted.
  2. To be the location of such a pain: The incision on my leg smarts.
  3. To feel such a pain.
  4. To suffer acutely, as from mental distress, wounded feelings, or remorse: “No creature smarts so little as a fool” ( Alexander Pope )

noun

  1. Sharp pain or anguish: the smart of the wound,
  2. Iintelligence; expertise: a reporter with a lot of smarts.

So we can say intelligent, or fashionable, witty, clever, all good. But I think we mean something like:

Capable of making adjustments that resemble those resulting from human decisions, chiefly by means of electronic sensors and computer technology: smart missiles; smart machines.

So smart means machines making decisions or adjustments that seem human, albeit, very quickly.

We have a tendency to hijack terms and then allow their definition to drift to fit whatever we need. SMART is a classic example. Four decades ago we used the term to either mean “She is Smart” as in “Gets straight ‘A’s” or “She looks good, well dressed, probably businesslike.”

Today we use the term to define a city, a phone, a sensor, a gate, a computer application. Do we mean “that city get’s straight “A’s”?  As I was rummaging around Google, I found this – an acronym which I had heard before but like so much, forgotten:

  • Specific – Can the detail in the information sufficient to pinpoint problems or opportunities? Is the objective sufficiently detailed to measure real-world problems and opportunities?
  • Measurable – Can a quantitative or qualitative attribute be applied to create a metric?
  • Actionable – Can the information be used to improve performance? If the objective doesn’t change behaviour in staff to help them improve performance, there is little point in it!
  • Relevant – Can the information be applied to the specific problem faced by the marketer?
  • Time-bound – Can objectives be set for different time periods as targets to review against?

I rather like applying this to the technology that overwhelms here at Intertraffic. Its not that the technology is ‘intelligent’ or ‘can make adjustments that resemble those resulting from human decisions,’ but considers the information in a real-world way. Can it be measured, can you use it to better performance, is it relevant to a specific problem and can it be measured against time.

Then again, maybe I’m just not SMART enough.

JVH

John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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