Seattle highlights smart city initiatives with new hire
In Seattle, transportation, fire, lighting and utilities departments working on smart city projects
As urban migration takes it toll not only on municipal services and infrastructure, it also has an impact on quality-of-life for residents. Smart city technologies is an umbrella term but the concept is to gain sensory data to institute changes that address both efficiency and how city-dwellers interact with each other and the place they call home.
In Seattle, smart city projects are in the works by the departments of transportation, lighting, fire fighting and utilities. To help driver inter-department success, the city has hired Kate Garman to serve as the full time smart city coordinator. According to the city, her job is “to develop a strategy that ensures the city’s smart city projects are running smoothly and efficiently and are following city standards and policies.”
“Seattle strives to become a smarter city, responsibly use new technologies and data to improve our community’s quality of life. This means bringing together stakeholders from across the city to understand when these technologies can provide value, and to facilitate deployment in a manner trusted by our community,” Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller said in a statement. “We are excited to have a proven leader like Kate help us advance our efforts in this space.”
Garman comes to the new position from Kansas City, another leader in the smart city space, where she served as innovation policy advisor. Kansas City leaders have partnered with Cisco, Sprint and ThinkBig on a smart city program, which aims to make the city the most connected city in the world and attract the technology, innovation and entrepreneurial community. The initiative’s goals include enhanced internet availability, energy savings, new revenue streams, and improved connectivity with citizens, including efforts to bridge the “digital divide”. In the process, the connected city will also produce vast amounts of data, which will serve as a “living lab” for Cisco, Think Big Partners and other entrepreneurs.
The city has adopted a public-private partnership approach, whereby Kansas City will invest $3.8 million over the next 10 years, an investment which Cisco, Sprint, ThinkBig and their partners will match with nearly $12 million. Sprint is investing around $7 million and Cisco around $5 million, according to Startland News.
As part of the initiative, free outdoor Wi-Fi will be deployed in more than 50 square blocks in downtown Kansas City. Sprint will roll out and manage the wifi network in partnership with Cisco. light sensory network of 125 smart streetlights responsive to citizen activity will also be installed along the newly launched 2.2-mile downtown streetcar line. Sensity sensors and integrated LED street lighting installed by Cisco will be able to capture data. Kansas City expects the light sensory network to save money and energy and reduce light pollution while the KC Streetcar Authority is interested in using the sensors to ensure safe, high quality rides.
Back to Seattle and this concept of data integration. By and large, municipal governments have a reputation for being compartmentalized bureaucracies where, oftentimes, one proverbial hand doesn’t know what the other is doing. In the context of smart cities, this is where a focus on data integration as a pathway to broad success comes into focus. Another side of that is making data sets available to external stakeholders–app builders, academics and engaged residents could all potentiall leverage access that data to drive innovation.
Seattle’s approach is its Open Data Portal, which provides broad access to information including everything from city fleet and wage level data, as well as data sets covering education, community-level projects, permitting, GIS layers and more.