When you think of cities of the future, what comes to mind? Are we talking about AVs (autonomous vehicles) and transportation? Sometimes we are talking about the future of supply chains and logistics. And other times we are looking at urbanization and how cities are going to adapt.
Perhaps the most aggressive cities of the future are the ones that are going to adapt by applying innovative tech solutions to the problems posed by urbanization. But as we have examined in this blog in the past, we need to apply technology, such as the IoT (Internet of Things) and other emerging solutions, in ways that are going to improve quality of life.
It’s very important to note that partnerships, including P3s (public-private partnerships), are going to be key to advancing smart cities well into the future. Perhaps the best way to see real success in smart-city initiatives is by looking at a couple of smart-city competitions that are pushing the space forward.
The first one is the 2019 Smart-Cities Readiness Challenge. A couple of weeks ago, the Smart Cities Council—a collaboration between companies and universities, labs, and standards bodies—announced the winners of its third-annual challenge. To be considered, candidates needed to provide a vision for at least three smart-city projects that would make a difference in the lives of their residents.
This year, the Smart Cities Council says it had recorded participation from communities with more than 100 applications.
The winning North American communities for 2019 were Baltimore, Md.; Edmonton, Canada; Montgomery, Ala.; Racine, Wis.; and Cleantech San Diego, Calif.
Winning communities receive a yearlong readiness program, which includes a readiness workshop in their communities that will include mentoring from the council and its network of partners. The support these winners receive is so important.
As an industry, we need to keep celebrating what cities are doing and helping them achieve their goals. There’s also something to be said for making innovation a competition. Cities know that massive change is coming, and they want to be at the forefront of it. It’s great to see these five communities working toward creating ambitious smart-city visions.
Bloomberg Philanthropies just announced seven cities that are earning “What Works Cities Certification” in 2019. What Works Cities Certification rates how well cities are managed by measuring the extent to which city leaders incorporate data in their decisionmaking.
What a fantastic idea, right? They’re celebrating and rewarding cities for how well they use data. This year, certification goes to Arlington, Texas; Kansas City, Mo..; Louisville, Ky.; Memphis, Tenn.; Philadelphia, Pa..; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Washington, D.C.
Let’s dig in to see exactly how some of these cities are leveraging data. Kansas City passed a law requiring that the municipal government use data in decisionmaking.
Louisville built an open platform that analyzes data to improve traffic conditions and road safety. And Scottsdale is using data analysis to predict future challenges and address them proactively. For instance, the city used predictive analytics to proactively conserve water in its underground aquifers.
The hope is that other cities learn from these examples and start relying on more data in their decisionmaking. Here’s a couple more collaborations. Harrisburg, a city in Pennsylvania, is working with Telensa to trial some smart-city technologies, including traffic sensors and monitoring systems for air quality and waste management.
The city has already deployed a smart street-lighting system. In 2016, Harrisburg deployed more than 4,000 connected streetlights and now pays significantly less in utilities. Some say about 60-70% less, to be specific.
And now they’re looking to use this streetlight infrastructure to roll out additional smart solutions. Through the new pilot, they’ll be using sensors and the streetlight infrastructure to measure all kinds of data that can drive value and better decisionmaking.
And here’s one more partnership. Arizona State University and Amazon Web Services have opened the ASU Smart City Cloud Innovation Center powered by AWS.
The initiative focuses on building smarter communities in the greater Phoenix-Metro area using the AWS cloud to solve pressing community and regional challenges.
The cloud innovation center is going to leverage public and private sector knowledge to solve challenges in both the public and private sectors, spurring even more collaboration beyond its walls.
The initiative is dedicated to using open-source software, too, so the solutions and prototypes they create will be available to other communities facing the same challenges.
Partnerships that further research, produce pilots, or encourage people to compete for funds or recognition are a really important part of this space.
Many cities are facing the same challenges, so the more partnerships we can get going between academic institutions, governments, the private sector, and even between cities, the better.
IoT-enabled solutions will go a long way in helping cities address some of the common painpoints in cities, including traffic, crime, pollution, and more. It’s only a matter a time before we say all our cities have some smarts, it’s just a matter of making them all even smarter.
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