While smart city projects are taking flight in large and small metropolises alike, and Illinois is embarking on a quest to become the nation’s first smart state, Snohomish County in Washington has announced its intention to become the country’s first smart county.
The county recently released a request for information seeking partners that can help improve connectivity to all residents — both urban and rural — through a series of technology deployments. In the RFI, the county noted it was open to all ideas, including "integrated information and communications technology, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and data, publicly deployed infrastructure, rural broadband capacity, urban informatics and data analytics, mobile/civic applications, sensor-based networks, and/or urban wireless networks (including 5g)."
“We are wide open to ideas,” county CIO Trever Esko told Government Technology. “There is nothing we have a predisposition for or against, and we are excited about any opportunities people want to put on the table and talk to us about.”
The Issue of Introducing IoT to All Populations
While cities often embrace IoT technologies for specific projects and use cases, challenges arise as larger areas look to balance the needs of both rural and urban residents, Esko told StateScoop.
Esko told the site:
"If you start thinking about the things that we see coming on the horizon five to ten years out, like self-driving cars, and those things that come with it, we think about the road infrastructure that might be needed for that, but you don't always think about the traffic control capabilities that you might embed into traffic lights and traffic monitoring systems and wireless networking that could support that in a better way. It's a matter of figuring out how to marry up that emerging infrastructure with the emerging services and how government can play a role in enabling both of those."
To start, however, the county is turning to its road infrastructure, weighing the idea of leveraging the thoroughfares to introduce IoT-connected sensors and fiber-optic cables to bring further connectivity to its residents, Esko told Government Technology.
“Technology is a large part of everyday life. After seeing the innovative ways that others use technology, I realized that there was an opportunity for Snohomish County to do something similar,” said County Executive Dave Somers in a press release. “The establishment of a Smart County would allow for the application of technology in a way that provides convenience and better service for all of our residents.”