Apr 04 2023
Data Analytics

Colorado Springs Continues Quest to Be ‘Smartest of Smart Cities’

The Colorado city’s Office of Innovation announced plans to implement more smart city initiatives in the coming years.

Since 2017, Colorado Springs, Colo., has pushed to adopt emerging technologies to become smarter, safer and more sustainable. Leading that charge is Colorado Springs’ Office of Innovation and Colorado Springs Utilities, which work with public and private organizations to implement smart utilities, solutions and services.

Under the banner of SmartCOS, the Office of Innovation’s mission to build a future-ready smart city was born out of a summit that saw city leaders discuss opportunities for projects that would incorporate technological innovations. Then came a 2018 proclamation to execute a smart city vision. That led to the establishment of a smart city strategy later that year, which identified concepts that would later become pilot projects and programs.

Five years on, the office’s objective is clear: to become the “smartest of smart cities,” a goal that was discussed at the 2023 SmartCOS Innovation Summit earlier this year. The conference gathered leaders from across Colorado Springs’ sectors and institutions to discuss updates on SmartCOS projects, propose new smart city solutions and address community feedback on SmartCOS programs.  

At this year’s summit, city officials held 29 presentations updating the public on advanced technologies including smart streetlights, smart trash bins, fiber-optic network deployment and electric vehicle infrastructure, according to Colorado newspaper The Gazette.

“Every city is different, but the message we sent at the summit is that the way we’re implementing SmartCOS programs is putting the city on the map,” says Colorado Springs Innovation Manager Carlos Tamayo.

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Where Is Colorado Springs on Its Smart City Journey?

The city has implemented several smart city solutions in recent years. The Office of Innovation places programs under 1 of 5 smart pillars (smart data, sustainability, utilities, services and mobilities) and prioritizes their implementation by aligning with Mayor John Suthers’ strategic goals.

Tamayo identified two foundational initiatives that put the city in a position to implement future programs. One is around connectivity, particularly the deployment of a fiber-optic network and 5G small-cell infrastructure. The Gazette reports that it won’t be long before the city’s first fiber-optic customers receive access, while full-scale fiber-optic deployment is set to be completed in 2028.

The other foundational initiative is data management. Tamayo says the city is developing a data platform that integrates all existing databases and cloud-based platforms that different departments have been using to improve security and transparency.

Other active initiatives include using sensors to create smart streetlights that collect weather data and smart trash cans that collect data on foot traffic and notify staff when they are almost full. Along with the smart streetlights program, the city is installing air sensors to collect localized air quality data. The Office of Innovation also produced an electric vehicle readiness plan to prepare for a transition to renewable energy, according to The Gazette.

EXPLORE: How Tampa is putting smart technology in the driver’s seat.

Colorado Springs Will Stand Out With Consistent Innovation

Tamayo says his office places an emphasis on creating digital equity. It helps bridge the digital divide by granting money to local nonprofits that fund projects to improve access to connected devices, digital skills training and one-on-one technical support.

“We want to address accessibility to technology and devices in underserved or disadvantaged communities, and training and education once these communities have access to the actual technology,” he says.

Down the line, the city plans to implement the Smart Fleet initiative to place GPS technology in city-owned vehicles. They can then track drive time, customer service time, snow removal and even harsh braking to improve safety and gas efficiency, reports The Gazette.

Tamayo says that the process of becoming a smart city is an ever-evolving one. He says he has ambitions to create a more comprehensive data integration plan, allowing the city to connect all its various Internet of Things  networks. In the future, he plans to create a digital twin for the city to improve planning and decision-making.

Jacob Boomsma/ Getty Images

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