As the world around us evolves due to changing economies, governments, natural resources, and the environment, municipalities may face strains on assets and resources. Cities and towns are proactively building strategies to limit the impact of acute shock and chronic stress that threaten them or weaken their foundation on a day-to-day or cyclical basis. Sudden, sharp events like disease outbreaks, national and international political and economic disruptions, terrorist accounts, and extreme weather and natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods are hard to deal with without proper pre-planning and disaster recovery plans in place. Stresses like inefficient public transportation systems; high unemployment; endemic violence; and power, food, and water shortages or interruptions also pose challenges for municipalities.
We have all been there at some point…stuck in our car behind a garbage truck as it makes frequent stops to collect waste and recycling. We see and smell the dark plumes of exhaust released from these loud, diesel-powered trucks. We might even wonder if there is a more environmentally friendly way to collect garbage.
Numerous cities and towns around the world have joined the ranks in developing into a notable Smart City. The cities and towns of today must grow and evolve to embrace and excite the urbanization and resiliency of tomorrow. Municipalities and their leaders are creatively leveraging technology innovations to develop enhanced, smarter offerings that go above and beyond today's city services. While key infrastructures and core city services receive a makeover, some cities have launched new forms of interactive advertising and outdoor technology to engage with citizens and promote local businesses. Some real-world innovative solutions that spark enthusiasm include SolarBox, Citi Bike, and elevate DIGITAL interactive kiosks.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is well known to most people involved in technology innovation. Need a refresher? Check out one of our recent blog posts which defines IoT. Simply put, it’s a growing network of physical objects that feature an IP address for internet connectivity where the communications occur between objects and other Internet-enable devices and systems. IoT projects are found across most industries – higher education, healthcare, manufacturing, logistics, consumer electronics, automotive, etc.
When it comes to government, the promise of IoT is designed to solve everyday problems associated with urban living. Urban IoT initiatives are flush with sensors for fire and smoke detection, remote monitoring and performance of infrastructure related to core city services, reporting the structural integrity of roadways and bridges, alerting consumers to parking availability, broadcasting public service announcements or city events and news, tracking lost items (people and pets, too!), smart lighting, and more.
Most state governments know that emerging technologies can transform the delivery of state services and are looking for Chief Information Officers (CIOs) who can see the potential, understand policy, and deliver productive use of technology. How is this different from a private sector CIO? In many ways, the skills are the same.
Today’s successful public sector CIOs are change agents. They are the primary technology business leaders of the state. They do more than manage hardware, software, IT procurement, and training. Today’s public sector CIOs don’t just automate processes, they transform the business of urban management through the use of innovative technology. They can anticipate policy implications and public expectations, define and deliver tangible results, and articulate project plans to all constituents.
Did you know it’s Plastic Free July? Have you taken the challenge to reduce the amount of plastic you use, specifically single-use plastic? If not, a few weeks remain in the challenge. However, there’s little reason to not continue to adopt changes for the long term. It’s an effort many cities would applaud!
Cities and towns worldwide are banning plastic – from plastic bags to single-use plastic and Styrofoam containers. The reasons vary from sustainability inaititives to cutting waste management costs. A recent example that you may have heard in the media was New York City's ban of expanded polystyrene foam which cannot be recycled and cause environemntal harm.
There’s a groundswell of effort focused on educating and raising awareness of the amount of single-use disposable plastic in daily life. Organizations like Plastic Free July are also challenging people to do something about it by simply reducing their use of single-use plastic. For many people, the first step – a rather easy one – is to avoid plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups, and straws.
Each year city leaders take on the task of balancing budgets while keeping a close eye on core city services. If there’s a deficit, one line item that might face reduced support is recycling-related efforts and programs. While they do require budget dollars to maintain, these recycling efforts also promise to save a city money (and environmental impact) in the end.
Recycling costs vary from one city to the next depending upon proximity to landfills, labor cost, real estate prices, and method of recycling. Despite varying financial benefits, there are many positive reasons both economically and environmentally to recycle.
When it comes to recyclable materials - aluminum, glass, plastic, and paper - some recycle more easily than others and their life spans are extraordinarily long. In all cases, recycling of these materials results in energy and natural resource savings.
Is disruption the same as innovation? We believe they are quite different. Disruptors are innovators, but not all innovations cause disruption. Both change, make, or build new markets, processes, and services. However, disruptors are more dramatic in the sense that they change behaviors or thinking. They cause changes in how people learn and work. Disruptors change lives. Innovation is more subtle – it does not displace an existing market, industry, or technology.
What defines a Smart City? Traditionally, a Smart City is a municipality that uses information and communication technology to make its critical infrastructure, services, and utilities more efficient and interactive, and at the same time builds awareness among residents to city services and related programs. The creation of a Smart City requires investments in human and social capital, communications infrastructure, and wise management of natural resources. This combination helps support sustainable economic development and higher quality of life for residents, visitors, and businesses.
Modern cities face many challenges accompanied by the corresponding opportunities: from providing a high quality of life to ensuring socio-economic development; from efficient and innovative business development to the reduction of crime. Central to successfully addressing challenges and capitalizing on opportunities is the adoption of innovative information and communication technologies.
Have you ever wondered what enables the Smart Cities of today and prepares them for greater, smarter tomorrows? Sensor technology is a prime candidate. These electronic devices measure, track, and report information on just about all city functions, making it easy for cities to capture, aggregate, and analyze the constant flow of information. The goal is to make real-time decisions and at the same time mitigate negative impacts on the daily lives of city residents, visitors, and businesses, and ensure the efficient and effective use of city budgets and resources. Cities and towns are able to leverage sensor-based technology and data in ways that give insight into their city that aid in keeping daily operations and core services running smoothly, effectively, and efficiently.