Evolution in city planning has become more advanced as cities see numerous ways that they can become “smarter” by integrating technology.
Local governments in the U.S. are expected to implement more smart cities technologies in 2016 as they seek to make operations smoother and more accessible to the tech-savvy public. In a recent whitepaper, Onvia found that cities across the country are making smart city investments to achieve greater livability in three overarching areas: Transportation, public safety and digital government.
3 Cities That Have Embraced the Smart City Mentality
Indianapolis, Indiana is a shining example of a city that has revolutionized its transportation by providing more options for citizens to get around. Scott Manning, Communications Director for Sustainable Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Department of Public Works described the city as one where “cars have been such an essential part of the culture” in an October 2015 takepart article. City officials have changed that culture through smart city thinking, and today, the city’s transportation landscape is drastically different that the previous norm. Melanie Haiken, the author of the article, describes the current perception of the city as one where “visitors to Indianapolis today see a city that looks more like Portland, Oregon, than like Detroit, where traffic lanes have been replaced by broad, tree-lined pedestrian paths.” In addition to building pedestrian paths, the city has also added more than 90 miles of designated bike routes in the last five years, introduced the new Pacers bike-share program, and is even implementing an all-electric car-share service called Blue Indy.
The advent of gunshot detection systems has aided police and safety personnel in fighting crime. These systems are installed in or on buildings, or along streets to listen for gunshots and can provide real-time notifications to law enforcement to help triangulate the location of shooters. These detection systems are even capable of recognizing the direction the shot was fired and the type of gun.
Denver, Colorado will expand its ShotSpotter detection system in 2016. The city has already received more than 400 alerts from the system, leading to dozens of arrests. Now, the city will triple the coverage to increase safety and livability for a broader swath of residents.
Digital government has had a profound impact on government’s relationship with its citizens. In November 2015, the Center for Digital Government named the City of Shawnee, Kansas, as the No. 1 city of up to 75,000 population for its efforts in digitizing its functions. The city has set up “Shawnee Connect” as a community Internet portal and mobile app to warn city departments about potholes, file a police report, and pay for traffic citations, among other updates.
More Cities Will Adopt Smart City Innovations in 2016
While Indianapolis, Denver and Shawnee have fully embraced the smart city concept, many cities across the U.S. are just getting started. In the coming years, city officials, such as mayors, city council members and CIOs, are predicted to become more vocal in their support of smart city investments.
Ruthbea Yesner Clarke, Research Director of the global Smart Cities Strategies program at IDC, wrote in a column for GovTech, “We predict that by 2017, at least 20 of the world’s largest countries will create national smart city policies to prioritize funding and document technical and business guidelines.”
Clarke and many other experts believe cities will begin to understand the impact, benefits and challenges of the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT describes the network of physical objects, such as mobile phones, software and sensors, which are connected and able to collect and share data and is intrinsically connected to the thinking behind smart cities. By collecting and sharing this real-time data via IoT technologies, cities can see countless benefits including decreased energy usage, improved sustainability efforts and reduced traffic congestion.
Experts at the SmartAmerica Challenge have forecasted that city governments across the globe will invest about $41 trillion in the next 20 years to upgrade their infrastructure to reap the benefits of smart city implementations through IoT technologies.
City leaders in the U.S. don’t want to be left behind and are joining the smart city movement to improve key areas of service including transportation, public safety and digital government. Government contractors offering solutions in these areas should continue to monitor which local governments are talking about smart city concepts and begin conducting outreach efforts immediately.