Smart cities are more than just a trend. The International Data Corporation (IDC) defines smart city development as the use of smart initiatives combined to leverage technology investments across an entire city, with common platforms increasing efficiency, data being shared across systems, and IT investments tied to smart missions. There are a a range of definitions of a smart city, but the consensus is that smart cities utilize technology to connect components across the city in order to improve the quality of life for citizens and visitors. Smart City initiatives are one of the most important developments worldwide in public sector digital transformation, according to the IDC.
"Smart Cities" may sound like 1990's sci-fi movie, but municipalities across the country are adopting digital transformation with no signs of slowing down. Early adopters of smart city technology were European cities, but US cities have quickly picked up steam and are incorporating technology into municipal infrastructure.
To recognize outstanding Smart Cities projects, IDC launched its Smart City North America Awards (SCNAA). Here are the smart cities that prioritize leveraging technology to improve public safety in their community.
Chicago, IL - Smart Living in the Windy City
The City of Chicago offers residents and visitors a portal that contains data sets including crime, food inspection, water quality, city employee salary, business licenses, and more. It’s free and has a user-friendly dashboards and downloadable, machine-readable data. The data collected in automatically updated on a daily, hourly, or minute basis. Administrators receive email alerts and the easy to use interface allows technical and non-technical users to automatically publish data.
Chicago also has an Array of Things. AoT is a network of sensor boxes mounted on light posts that collects a host of real-time data on Chicago’s environmental surroundings and urban activity. In the public safety realm, Chicago sends multi-channel alerts on various emergency and non-emergency situations taking place around the city, and provides its residents with online personal safety profiles.
North Andover, MA - Prepared for the Unthinkable
This past fall, a series of gas explosions set off dozens of fires in this Boston suburb. Power was cut to more than 8000 homes in the area. There were three separate explosions, and as many as 80 homes were burned or damaged. The spontaneous gas explosions and fires mystified officials, but North Andover was prepared for the unexpected.
The explosions, caused by faulty gas line pressure, killed one person and injured more than 20 others. To prevent more casualties, authorities in North Andover knew they had to message residents to evacuate their homes and advise them to avoid doing anything that could ignite another blaze. Using mass notification technology, North Andover officials were able to send notifications to continually update residents about the present danger and provide them with next steps for staying safe as crews worked to shut off gas lines and stabilize the region.
Louisville, KY - Innovative Transportation & Safety Infrastructure
The city built a database platform called "Waze WARP" using traffic information from Waze and other data to build a traffic analysis module. Louisville then founded the Open Government Coalition, a network of government agencies working on open source projects. Louisville's Waze WARP now gives 600+ government entities access to data to improve mobility, pedestrian and bike safety, road conditions, and emergency response. The OGC has now embarked on additional projects to foster innovation.
The Kentucky Derby brings in more than half a million visitors into the city for the weekend. The City of Louisville also uses mass notification to power its LENS (Louisville Emergency Notification System) Alert solution. With one text, the 500,000 Kentucky Derby attendees could opt-in to receive Derby specific notifications. This technology provides Louisville with an easy way to send targeted and broad communications throughout the city’s festival season to visitors and residents of event updates and potential emergencies.
Atlanta, GA - First Biometric Terminal
Atlanta is also making strides in in transpiration and safety innovation! At Terminal F in the Atlanta airport, Delta Air Lines launched the first curb-to-gate biometric terminal in the United States. For international flights, Delta uses facial recognition at check-in kiosks, bag drop counters, TSA checkpoints, and departure gates. Nearly all 25,000 passengers who travel through Atlanta's Terminal F each week are choosing this optional process to check-in to flights. This technology helps passengers get through the airport more efficiently, which helps decrease the need for larger terminal infrastructure and space.
The city of Atlanta uses online personal safety profile technology to better protect residents and visitors. This technology came into use when Atlanta hosted the Super Bowl earlier this year and the city had an influx of guests!
Houston, TX - Smart Buildings & Severe Weather
Houston is implementing a first-of-its-kind comprehensive smart city initiative that encompassed the entire city. With a focus on the city’s key priorities of disaster recovery and response, building and school safety, and more efficient, capable transportation, the initiative currently includes 22 planned engagements. Together, these 22 engagements make up the base of the broader smart city initiative, which will be expanded over time as new projects are added to leverage IoT solutions that create a connected foundation for Houston.
Montgomery County, TX and the greater Houston area are proned to severe weather. As such, they harness technology to build out a robust plan for response, proactively collaborate with residents and facilitate better communication among responders and their region at large.
Smart cities are the wave of the future. But a city cannot be truly 'smart' if it doesn't acknowledge mental illness. Understanding mental health is a key to safety that money can't buy. In the upcoming webinar, former Dallas Police Chief David Brown explains how ignoring mental health concerns in your community can potentially have a major, wide-reaching impact.