Smart City Leaders Use Tech to Improve Residents' Lives

IT leaders in locales as diverse as Baltimore and Opelika, Ala., know that technology solutions should deliver real-world benefits.

When it comes to smart cities, IT governance is people governance. That is to say, as a municipal leader, your interest in smart solutions is directly tied to how they best help your fellow citizens.

No one is a greater evangelist for this idea than Stephen Dawe, CTO for Opelika, Ala. Dawe has been working tirelessly to implement solutions for his city of roughly 30,000 inhabitants. He’s interested in investing in technology only if he can see how it will improve the lives of people, and he warns against the trend to run pilots and trials without an achievable, and immediate, end goal in mind.

While Dawe leads initiatives to shape Opelika into a smart city, he seeks solutions that will help his fellow residents — whether it’s better streetlights, sensors for firefighters or crime prevention measures. Each of these smart city projects will improve conditions across the municipality. Explore more of these plans in “Successful Smart City Projects Emphasize Citizen Rewards Now, Growth for Future.” 

MORE FROM STATETECH: Discover how innovation zones serve as test beds for smart city solutions! 

Smart Cities Can Improve the Quality of Life for Residents 

Smart city initiatives ultimately produce a better life for municipal inhabitants. Think of the humble streetlight, often the backbone of a city’s first foray into becoming a smart city. Modern LED streetlights use less electricity, but smart streetlights also respond to the presence of people, serving as wayfinders for travelers and even potentially collecting information to improve their lives. Streetlights or other designated posts that carry sensors can transmit information on the conditions of the roads or the air, and city leaders can respond to that data with projects to improve quality of life.

While technology is critical to achieving these goals, how to help urban citizens should remain top of mind. Baltimore City CIO Frank Johnson highlights the results of a survey conducted by the University of Maryland about what residents want from a smart city. The top answer from the residents of West Baltimore was greater broadband access. This is a great example of keeping an eye on what people want.

Cities grow in powerful ways with smart city projects, but they need to work alongside their residents throughout the journey.

Wenjie Dong/Getty Images
Oct 01 2018