As our nation at the federal level winds its way through a difficult and contentious transition, local government should be celebrated for its focus on maintaining and continuously improving the good governmental practices that yield services to constituents and uphold the 244 year traditon of democracy in America. A special “shout out” to the ca. 18,000 town, city, county and state clerks across the USA who conducted the national election in quiet, orderly fashion, despite the crowds and press and confusion and accusations. They make America proud…. again.
The Smart Cities Council has the following annual program rewarding cities that offer winning proposals for “smart city” improvements. Ten cities are finalists, seven from the USA, one from Australia, one from Mexico and one from Russia. They include small and large communities. The finalist projects, listed below, offer suggestions for possible “smart cities” technology improvements to local governments everywhere.
Each city’s projects –
Brisbane City Council, Australia is a bustling city on the east coast of Australia. With over 2.3 million population and known as one of the fastest-growing cities in Australia. It is known for its vibrant urban precincts, outdoor lifestyle and friendly locals. In fact, it is the HQ for Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand. The projects Brisbane submitted include:
- Data Collection – The ability to collect accurate and timely data provides the foundations for Council to make informed decisions. The significant geographic spread of the Brisbane Local Government Area (LGA) means Council has thousands of kilometres of land and assets to manage, which in turn requires a sophisticated data collection plan. Council is in the process of implementing a number of initiatives to support the collection of operational and city data.
City of Colorado Springs, CO, USA is has cultivated a stellar reputation, continually earning a spot on the U.S. News Best Places to Live ranking with a population over 478,000. The projects Colorado Springs submitted include:
- Smart Street Lighting – Significant community planning has been completed in their SmartCOS Strategy and they are in the middle of a successful pilot with this program, scaling our project is a high priority. The data demonstrates that this program saves energy, lowers costs, and increases neighborhood safety. Since this data matches the desired outcomes, the City believes they have a solid business case for scaling. If the City could show the significant energy savings in LED lights over HPS, and revise how we pay the Utility for streetlights, they could make a case to rapidly convert streetlights from HPS to LED, thus reducing their carbon footprint and saving taxpayer money currently going toward energy usage and maintenance.
- Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan – Smart Transportation was identified in our community-engaged SmartCOS strategy planning sessions, which highlights electric vehicles (EV) expansion as a high priority for the City. We have just begun the development of an EV Readiness Plan as the planning document that will have widespread implications for the city, including its future development and land use policy.
- Smart Waste – The City of Colorado Springs has over 9,000 acres of parkland and 500 acres of trails. The livelihood and work of our residents is intimately tied to the natural beauty of our surroundings, which makes proper waste disposal and protection of the environment paramount to our city’s services. Further, the potentially decreased service costs and advertising revenue would allow the City to further scale the smart waste project, or allow for allocation of funds to other smart cities projects. The outcomes we will assess to measure program success are number of pickups per bin per week; livability; air pollution levels; noise pollution levels; CO2 emissions; reduced overflow complaints.
- Microgrid Plan – The lessons learned by Colorado Springs during COVID-19, like so many cities across the world, Include the need to ensure that our hospitals, evacuation centers, schools, food distribution centers, and other community assets have energy resilience in times of disaster. The City’s partner in this project, Colorado Springs Utilities, recently voted to retire community coal plants earlier than initially called for and replace that retired energy with distributed natural gas generators, non-carbon generation, battery storage, and energy efficiency initiatives. Our effort to re-brand Colorado Springs as an epicenter for clean, renewable energy is augmented by a commitment to microgrid technology.
- Smart Building Management System – Many of the City’s buildings have already adopted Building Automation Systems (BAS) and have illustrated their energy saving benefits. However, there is a need to further expand digital controls and implement an overarching Smart Building Management System (SBMS) that not only automates facility operation, but also integrates Internet of Things (IoT) deployments that have beneficial use cases. This project will be measured by utility usage and energy savings; operational functionality of HVAC systems, lighting systems, and (IoT) communication frameworks; and cost savings from more efficient utility use.
- Digital Road Infrastructure Management System – City staff gather data on the volume, speed, distance between signals, and the timing of individual intersections. When the data has been collected a study is done to determine the best timing and coordination of all intersections involved. This may require that the timing of the intersections be adjusted to facilitate the best flow of vehicles. While this system has served the city well, the rapid rate of which their population is growing and their desire to embrace complete streets for residents demands a more technologically-driven solution. Smart Kiosks – Like many other cities, Colorado Springs faces a disparity between home internet access and income levels. In the face of unprecedented challenge from COVID-19, having reliable access to broadband is vital to work, education, and social lives. The city aspires to eliminate this gap by creating a Citywide broadband network. While this process is under development, they plan to use kiosks to narrow the gap by equipping residents with access to internet hotspots at no cost.
Town of Morrisville, NC, USA has a population of more than 24,000 with a projected grown rate near 30,000 by 2035. Morrisville geographic location at the heart of the Research Triangle, its business-friendly climate and enviable workforce attract not only Fortune 500 businesses in technology, health care, and pharmaceuticals, but provide ample support for start-ups in a range of industries. The projects the Town of Morrisville submitted include:
- Connected Park Initiative – This is the Town of Morrisville’s inaugural smart city project. The project encompasses everything a smart city project should and uses IoT sensors and data to optimize park management. They will install flood sensors and ground moisture sensors at a pilot park that will send data to a centralized IoT dashboard. This data will then be used to make decisions to automate park and field closures. If the park is flooded (happens often) or all fields are too wet for play, the front gate will automatically close and the digital signage will be updated to indicate that the park is closed. The goal is to feed the real-time park data in to a public-facing dashboard for citizens to view before visiting the park.
- Smart Corridor Initiative – Traffic and transportation have been an important topic to citizens in all recent surveys and studies that have been conducted. Morrisville is working to identify a stretch of road or two that they are calling their smart corridor(s). Once established, they will issue a request for pilot to receive innovative solutions that could pilot along the corridor(s). They will use benchmarks (decreased commute times, increased average speeds along corridor up to speed limit) to evaluate the successfulness of the piloted solution to determine feasibility for widescale deployment and overall value to the Town.
Nashville, TN, USA is known as the home of country music as well as the home to a wide variety of universities and colleges. The city serves as a major center for the healthcare, publishing, banking, automotive, and transportation industries. Its current population is 1,249,000, a 2.04% increase from 2019. Nashville submitted project includes:
- Equitable Approaches to Urban Flooding -The city is looking to develop the capacity to make their community’s infrastructure and social ecosystem more resilient – capable of surviving and prospering as we face natural and other disasters.
City of Omaha, NE, USA is Nebraska’s biggest city and a regional manufacturing, transportation, trade, and service hub with a metro population of 835,000. Projects submitted by Omaha include:
- Market to Midtown Bikeway– In an effort to support safer and more attractive ridership options for people riding bikes and scooters across the region, Metro Smart Cities, alongside Bike Walk Nebraska, are teaming up to build two protected bikeways as pilot projects in order to collect and analyze data pertaining to street ridership behavior. Showing an increase in ridership along Harney Street will display the need for additional infrastructure for multimodal transportation in the greater Omaha metro region.
- Curbside Management – The curbside management pilot aims to create safe and efficient use of the curb at busy pick-up and drop-off points for ride sharing. Using a smart technology solution will create a safe zone for passenger pick up and drop off in two entertainment districts in the Omaha metro.
- Online Engagement Tool -An educational tool aimed to empower people to make informed decisions about the true cost of transportation. Cost transparency made available to the public will build support from the community of the long-range transportation plan (LRTP) being build by the Chamber’s ConnectGO initiative with Metro Smart Cities and others serving as partners.
Orange County, Florida, USA estimated population is 1,436,070 and is a well-traveled destination with over 60 million visitors each year. Orange County submitted projects include:
- Sustainable Materials Management Master Plan –A holistic planning process which will result in the identification and analysis of potential near-term and long-term end-of-life materials reduction and diversion (possibly including, byproduct utilization, materials recovery, remanufacturing, economic development) and disposal options for the County.100% Renewable Energy by 2030 – Orange County is currently ranked #1 in the state with the amount of solar installed per capita and plan on keeping that ranking. The County will be singing on to a set of new commitments in 2021 such as the Global Covenant of Mayors, and Sierra Club’s 100% by 2030 Challenge. The project requires collaboration with municipal utilities and investor utilities. Enhancing redundancy, infrastructure resiliency, and positively impacting socio economic workforce programs is a priority.
- Transportation Technology Initiative – A concerted effort by 13 municipalities to address the growing population. Central Florida region is projected to add more than 1,500 residents every week. By the year 2030, projections have the regional population at 5.2 million.
Palmdale, CA, USA has consistently been one of the fastest-growing cities in California and in the country with population of 156, 300. Palmdale continues to cherish the small-town values of a family-oriented community while enjoying all of the conveniences of its booming retail and commercial sectors. The City of Palmdale submitted the following projects:
- 5G and Small Cell Technology Program -The City is exploring public-private partnership opportunities for deploying smart technologies on City facilities from multiple small wireless facilities service and infrastructure providers. The City will consider revenue-sharing options through lease of infrastructure (streetlight poles, and/or fiber or conduit), and options to improve city processes for an expedited deployment of 5G and other advanced technologies.
- Palmdale Drones Policy for Public Safety Communication– Developing use case for DRONES program to provide public safety benefits including
- Search and Rescue Operations
- Geographic Mapping of Inaccessible Terrain
- Crowd Monitoring at Public Events
- Reconstructed 3D Models for Security Planning
- Building Safety Inspections
- Coordination with Law Enforcement
- Coordination with Fire Department
- Water Rescues
- Delivering Medical Equipment
- Mass Notification System– Emergency notification system with ability to send mass notification via text, email, phone, sirens, etc., to residents or employees during an emergency or if there were an imminent threat including Earthquakes, Wildfires, Flooding, Mud Slides, High Wind Damage, Civil Unrest, and potential target for terrorism.
- Palmdale Complete Streets – Transportation is a major factor of consideration for businesses looking to locate in the City. Additionally, with accommodating High Speed Rail, the secondary effects of a station located in the City will bring economic benefits to the City.City of Palmdale is near completing a complete streets plan which will enable multiple modes of transportation (walking, driving, public transit, and bicycles) to utilize the same right-of-way in a safe and efficient manner.
- Public Safety Cameras & Smart Technology– The City currently does not have safety cameras. City-wide installation of security cameras and smart technology as community safety measures, such as Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs) to automatically capture license plate numbers that come into view along with location, date and time. Law Enforcement can use the data to determine if a vehicle was at the scene of a crime and can also help identify traffic patterns.
- Land Management Permitting System– This project involves the implementation of an integrated permitting/licensing/code compliance system and will allow for better coordination between various Departments and eliminate existing redundancies between Divisions.Community Choice Aggregation Virtual Power Plant & Microgrids– Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) can provide cleaner, local energy at competitive rates, while keeping energy dollars local to be reinvested back into the community through City programs and energy projects. Introduction of Microgrid capability for City’s Critical facilities will provide resilience and stability for the community.
- Paperless Solutions Program for Paper-based Applications -This is unique to the City because our current processes have not been evaluated in twenty plus years. This project can reduce the overall Carbon Footprint and administration cost associated with paper based applications.
- Battery Storage Program -Palmdale’s CCA, Energy for Palmdale’s Independent Choice (EPIC), will create an incentive program to help customers with the installation of battery storage, which will not only serve to stabilize the current energy grid, but also provide energy resiliency to customers.
Philadelphia, PA, USA Philadelphia is the largest city in Pennsylvania and the fifth largest city in the United States. It has a population of over 1.5 million people with largest freshwater port in the country.
- Data Privacy and Ethics in SmartCityPHL– As SmartCityPHL begins to pilot new approaches to serving Philadelphians better using tech, they intend to learn from experts and from other cities and establish foundational policies around data privacy and ethics. This project is led by the SmartCityPHL team with the guidance of the SmartCityPHL Advisory Committee and Working Group. They have already begun to collect scholarship, case studies, laws, and policies around these issues and intend to establish a task force to guide policy development for Philadelphia.
- Equity and Resilience in the Built Environment – In partnership with State of Place and Penn Praxis, SmartCityPHL is piloting an approach to prioritizing City projects and funding based on measures of quality in the public realm. The State of Place software uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze images of each block in a study area and assess inequity in the built environment
- Road Quality Assessment – In collaboration with the Philadelphia Streets Department and NC company GoodRoads, SmartCityPHL is piloting GoodRoads’ inexpensive, portable devices for efficiently assessing the quality of Philadelphia’s streets and prioritizing repairs. The images captured by the GoodRoads devices are analyzed using artificial intelligence to identify faults; we are also working with the company to train their algorithms to identify potholes, faded pavement markings, manhole covers, litter, and road signs.
- Building Circular Economy -Metabolic’s analysis shows strong potential for the recovery and reuse of building products, reducing the GHG impact of new construction and diverting waste from the landfill. The City currently exploring ways to incorporate this effort into a broader push for a circular economy in Philadelphia.
- SmartCityPHL Innovation Academy – The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology has partnered with a local university to run an Innovation Academy for city government employees since 2014. SmartCityPHL envisions supporting an Innovation Academy cohort focused on smart city technology and innovation.
Moscow, Russia is a vibrant capital overflowing with history, art and culture. It is fast-changing metropolis with a population of 12 million. Moscow was very proud to submit projects including:
- The Official Web Portal of Moscow Government – Mos.ru- During the COVID-19 pandemic this spring, mos.ru became the main instrument for interaction between the city and residents: almost all public services were provided online only. In addition, special services were launched for residents during pandemic. During that time mos.ru became the source of the latest official information about the situation in Moscow, the spread of the coronavirus infection in the city and city life during the period of self-isolation, presenting a number of special projects: “Coronavirus: Official Information”, “Working from Home”, “Culture Online ” and others. As a result, the traffic of the portal during the pandemic more than doubled compared to the average monthly figures, and went up to 36.4 million visitors (in April 2020).
- MOSECOMONITORING Moscow municipal institution for environmental monitoring – Moscow “MOSECOMONITORING” presents full data on air quality in Moscow in real time. At any time one can get updated on air quality, air pollution rate, visibility range, meteorological information and much more.
Municipal de Santa Caterina, Mexico is one of the municipalities of the State of Nuevo Leon with a population of over 281,600 (as of 2010). As a first year applicant Santa Caterina submitted projects include:
- SanCard App (San Tarjeta App): Platform of e-goverment for a digital city – SanCard App is a E-Government platform that will digitize all the services that the city offers to the community, in order to improve the life conditions of citizens, promote their integral health, and give a priority approach to social and human development. What makes this project unique is that it is a low cost solution, consisting in a single mobile application (that will be developed) that will give access through QR codes to government services (procedures, payments and collection), transport and mobility services, as well as the cultural, artistic, sporting and tourist offer of the city to facilitate its navigation, and promote a social and human development and integral health.
- Clean Air Program: Santa Catarina City – The purpose of the Clean Air Program: Santa Catarina City is that the citizen can breathe better air quality using state-of-the-art technology that monitors in real-time the pollution levels and, based on this, filters the air to improve environmental conditions. Likewise, this panel of environmental indicators will be available to people through a mobile app, that will graphically show the real-time situation of the environment.
- Smart Destination App: Nuevo Leon Extraordinario – The tourism and culture agenda is currently offered by a mobile app, and thanks to the placement of more than 400 beacons (Bluetooth Low Energy technology), all visitors or citizens can receive notifications, suggestions or information about an iconic place in the State that they must visit to enjoy the experience. The tourism sector is an important area of economic development for the country, and State is characterized by business tourism, university tourism, adventure tourism and medical tourism. Today, it is very important to support this sector more than ever, which was greatly affected by the pandemic. They firmly believe that technology will be a value tool to boost the tourism sector and deliver a smart experience to visitors.