Across the United States and around the globe, the next several decades will bring unprecedented investment in smart-city technologies that leverage the IoT (Internet of Things). Cities will need to respond to citizens’ demand for connected services, they’ll need to upgrade their infrastructures and provide IoT services to remain competitive in a connected world, and they’ll need to take advantage of the benefits of data-enhanced decisionmaking in smart city applications such as energy and utilities, transportation and logistics, security, and more.

Ridgeland, a small, urban city in central Mississippi, isn’t waiting around to get the ball rolling when it comes to making its city smarter. This fall, Ridgeland will test IoT-enabled smart lighting and traffic analytics applications in municipal operations. To bring the pilot to fruition, Ridgeland has partnered with C Spire,, a telecommunications and technology services company. Ivy Kelly, technology strategist at C Spire, says the two-month trial, which is planned for October and November, has a couple of goals. “While we’re still working out what’s possible for both applications, one thing we’re hoping to see with smart lighting is what controls or settings can be adjusted to reduce energy usage,” Kelly says. “With traffic camera analytics, we’d like to evaluate the application’s ability to identify and alert anomalies such as accidents and perhaps point to better ways to handle traffic flow.”

For the smart lighting piece of this equation, Kelly says C Spire will use cellular modules at a number of existing light poles that provide connectivity to a centralized dashboard, remote control capabilities, and energy usage data. For the traffic application, Kelly says an analytics engine will be added to the city’s existing traffic camera system, which will once again feed a dashboard that will provide crucial data and generate alerts. Both applications will help the city run more effectively and efficiently.

“Smart-city applications are all about using connected things smartly in order to improve efficiencies, including time, personnel, energy, and ultimately cost,” Kelly explains. “Smart lighting has the potential to reduce energy usage, which in turn reduces the city’s energy bills. Traffic analytics has the potential to reduce the need for continuous human monitoring of multiple camera feeds by automating problem identification and solutions.”

By looking at ways to reduce the costs of existing services, Ridgeland will theoretically be able to offer new and better services to its citizens at no additional cost. Additionally, the data derived from the pilot could improve existing services dramatically, for instance, by enabling faster response times to traffic accidents and reducing roadway congestion.

In the future, smart-city IoT applications will become commonplace for small cities as well as large ones. “The choice to use these types of applications are more obvious for large cities, where efficiencies can be identified fairly easily,” Kelly says. “However, even smaller cities and towns have adopted various smart applications because of the advantages they bring. As long as connectivity continues to improve and IoT technologies become more cost effective, people will become ever more creative as to what can be connected and made smart.”

Challenge: Develop a smart-city strategy in Ridgeland, Miss., via a two-month pilot program designed to focus on smart lighting and traffic analytics.

Risk: Success may be difficult to measure after just two months.

Solution:  Partner with C Spire to deploy IoT-enabled smart lighting and traffic analytics solutions.

Payoff: Anticipated ROI (return on investment) includes increased efficiencies, quality-of-life improvements, and economic development opportunities.