Sep 28 2018

Smart City Innovations Hinge on Beneficial Data Applications

Cities look for ways data can provide citizen services in utilities, transportation and infrastructure in advance of Smart Cities Week.

With Smart Cities Week approaching, municipal leaders reflect on the potential ways they can employ data to improve the lives of their constituents. 

In exploring smart city innovations, tech managers turn their attention to challenges of service modernization to benefit city citizens  whether in utilities, transportation or infrastructure.

MORE FROM STATETECH: Find out how successful smart cities focus on practical projects! 

Smart Utilities Measure Water and Wastewater Consumption

The importance of water and wastewater utilities to any city cannot be overemphasized. That said, new smart city development may offer an advantage in tackling water challenges. Take the case of the planned city of Belmont, which Bill Gates is sponsoring, in Arizona. The state has a water shortage problem, and smart city planners must quickly confront it. 

“Perhaps the project’s single biggest advantage within the context of water conservation is that building a smart city from scratch enables builders to integrate innovative water technology at the ground level rather than having to retroactively do so,” writes Gillan Taddune, CEO of Banyan Water, in Smart Cities Dive

Implementing smart water initiatives maintains and conserves water while pacing the consumption of energy. “Water harvesting and groundwater monitoring applications will rely on the support from Fog/Cloud computing infrastructure, such as wireless sensors, smart meters, GPS devices, Fog gateways, Cloud platforms, IPv6 technology and cellular communications,” notes Smart & Resilient Cities.

Singapore revolutionized wastewater treatment with smart tech. According to The Business Times, “The Ulu Pandan wastewater treatment plant which recently won a Global Water Award, incorporated a smart water system in its blueprint and has demonstrated how advanced technologies bring new levels of efficiency, productivity and performance.” 

Careful planning can yield benefits in managing wastewater. Assessing a wastewater system in South Bend, Ind., the South Bend Tribune points to a functional advantage of the city’s wastewater system: “Sensors monitor water levels during overflow events, opening and closing valves to redirect wastewater from blockages.”

Data Collection Depends on Supporting Infrastructure

Leaders in Cary, N.C., recognize requirements for data-driven infrastructure. “As an example of data interacting, issues of wastewater and traffic can intersect, said Cary’s Smart Cities and IT Project Manager Terry Yates,” according to CaryCitizen. Transportation might ideally shut down in the area of a wastewater pipe failure, Yates said, but Cary is largely reactive right now when it comes to problems and needs that arise. But with an increase in technology that registers new information and shares it among departments, Cary plans to become proactive — perhaps, even predictive.

A recent study in Baltimore, part of that municipality’s smart city initiative, concludes that the city must take care to include its poorest residents in smart city development. That may translate to more robust, readily available Wi-Fi, free to residents. “They know what technology they don’t have,” an expert tells The Baltimore Sun, and that shapes their expectations of how the city should help. 

Top Smart Cities Plan Ahead, Long Before Tech Upgrades

StateScoop recently reported on the top smart cities in the world, determined by a study from the Eden Strategy Institute. Twelve of the top 50 cities are in the United States. 

“The rankings, taking stock of 140 smart cities and drawing on interviews with city government officials, employed 10 criteria: clarity of vision, leadership, budget, provision of financial incentives, support programs, talent-readiness, people-centric approach, development of an innovation ecosystem, implementation of smart policies, and track record of previous initiatives and projects,” notes StateScoop.

New York, Boston and San Francisco were the top three U.S. smart cities on the list. Their progress provides all cities with lessons learned in planning ahead for innovation to benefit a municipal population.

This article is part of StateTech's CITizen blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #StateLocalIT hashtag.


zhudifeng/Getty Images