Author: Mary Scott Nabers – Strategic Partnerships Inc. | 6.29.2021
Smart City competition continues, and benefits are coming not only to citizens at the local level of government but also to the entire country as new initiatives are launched, tested, and perfected. Recognition for exemplary effort is now more prevalent than ever as states and national organizations seek out and reward public agencies for visionary efforts.
The legislation called the “Smart Cities and Communities Act of 2021” was introduced in May. The bill proposes federal spending of $1.1 billion over five years to aid and coordinate resources for local governments interested in pursuing a Smart City agenda. The bill would establish an inter-agency council to oversee the funding.
Another bill, the Smart Intersections Act, would establish a Smart Technology Traffic Signals Grant Program to improve the functioning of traffic signals. Many planned Smart City projects will result in collaborative initiatives with private-sector contractors.
Orange County, a recent global winner of the Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge, was rewarded for its work on a 100 percent renewable energy plan, a sustainable materials management master plan, and numerous upcoming transportation technology initiatives.
Some of the short-term initiatives planned by Orange County include:
- Installing solar photovoltaic and energy storage systems on county buildings with a specific goal of having 50 percent of the power used by county-owned buildings from clean energy sources within 10 years.
- Creating a five-year Buildings & Infrastructure Resilience Plan to complete facility hardening and risk mitigation projects for all county facilities. The county will use the priorities and strategies set forth by FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program and the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council’s Regional Resilience Plan.
- Completing a Comprehensive Stormwater Infrastructure Plan to identify specific basin requirements, impairments, and erosion control needs. This effort involves implementing a Stormwater Inventory & Maintenance Data Management System.
- Evaluating and deploying new technology integration in surface water and stormwater ponds to include quality, inspection, monitoring, and flow control.
Colorado Springs is working on two Smart City plans for both a Smart Building Management System project to automate facility operation and a plan to integrate Internet of Things (IoT) deployments that have beneficial use cases. The project will be measured by utility usage, energy savings, operational functionality, IoT communication, and cost savings.
The city also introduced smart street lighting and began a pilot study. The data demonstrated lower costs and increased neighborhood safety, and the likelihood is that the city will retrofit most streetlights.
The town of Morrisville introduced a Smart Corridor Project, and its plan is to identify a roadway to be utilized as a smart corridor. Once established, the town will seek innovative solutions for a pilot project. The plan will call for benchmarks (decreased commute times and increased average speeds) to evaluate the success of the piloted solution and to determine feasibility for widescale deployment.
The city of Omaha is working on a Smart City Curbside Management Project. This pilot’s objective will be to create safe and efficient use of the curb at busy pick-up and drop-off points for ride-sharing. Using a smart technology solution, the project will create a safe zone for passenger pick up and drop off in two entertainment districts in the Omaha metro area.
The city of Palmdale is considering a citywide installation of security cameras and smart technology. The preference is for smart cameras that offer Automatic License Plate Readers.
The city of Columbus won the Smart City Challenge competition in the previous year and received a $40 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Columbus also received $19 million from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. In 2021, the city wrapped up its Smart Columbus findings in a report that outlined projects that would contribute to sustainability for the city. Some of the initial work included the adoption of electric vehicles, self-driving shuttles, parking guidance technology, and a pilot project for technology that alerts drivers to red lights ahead and detects potential collisions with other connected vehicles. The projects also included mobility assistance for people with cognitive disabilities and prenatal trip assistance.
The city of Westerville’s 2021-2025 Capital Improvement Plan proposes a smart and connected community. The plan outlines leveraging current fiber infrastructure to address critical challenges – parking, traffic management, lighting, and public safety. It also would enable Westerville to provide citizens with internet connectivity and access to citywide services.
The city of Scottsdale implemented a Smart City Strategic Roadmap in 2019 and has continued efforts to implement projects. In April, an interdepartmental team of city staff was formed to coordinate Scottsdale Smart City efforts. Suggested projects include:
- The use of gunshot detection technology (GDT). The GDT collects information and critical data to enhance public safety.
- Projects to use various types of environmental, optical, public safety, or other sensors and implement multi-sensor nodes strategically. Sensor capabilities examples include vehicle counting, vehicle type recognition, vehicle proximity, and presence detection, and height warnings to tall vehicles approaching underpasses. Other abilities include parking space monitoring and occupancy, adaptive lighting controls, pothole detection, road status monitoring, people counting, public space monitoring, air quality monitoring, noise monitoring, and more.
- Smart streetlights to reduce operating costs and enhance safety. The poles could provide a secure location for other technology installations which would provide revenue-oriented partnership opportunities.
- Projects to develop existing and new connectivity including the enhancements of existing fiber, 4G, and 5G services.
Cities throughout the country are aggressively pursuing Smart City status. An abundance of contracting opportunities results when public leaders embark on visionary initiatives that enhance citizen services, public safety, and resiliency goals. The plans being announced are worthy of note because they all represent upcoming collaborative opportunities.
By Mary Scott Nabers | 6.29.2021
Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released book, Inside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America is a handbook for contractors, investors, and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.