How to create a smart city, a case study in Dallas

The benefits and processes of creating a smart city

DALLAS–Jennifer Sanders, the executive director and co-founder of the Dallas Innovation Alliance, gave a talk titled Creating a smart city legacy: innovation, sustainability and collaboration for future generations, at this year’s TMForum Innovation InFocus. Sanders spoke about the possibilities of using IoT to build a smarter, safer city, detailing a number of use cases the Dallas Innovation Alliance is currently testing.

The Dallas region has had to evolve and innovate to keep up. It houses 19 Fortune 500 company headquarters, and has the ninth largest concentration of technology jobs in the U.S., with 360 people moving to the Dallas region every day. It is currently ranked the 19th smartest city globally.

Inside smart city development: How Dallas is transforming

According to the Dallas Innovation Alliance, a non-profit public-private partnership invested in Dallas’ evolution as a forward-thinking, ‘smart’ global city, a smart city is one where social and technological solutions facilitate sustainable economic growth, increase resource efficiency and improve the quality of life for its citizens.

smart city

Sanders says it is not a matter of whether the smart city will come into fruition, it is a matter of when, and a multi-phase approach needs to be taken to get there.

The Dallas Innovation Alliance is using the Central Business District (West-End Historical District) as a living lab pilot zone. That particular area of Dallas has seen a dip in revenue over the years, but presents an area of potential for the city.

According to Sanders, the five Es of smart city benefits include:

  • Economic development
  • Efficiency
  • Education
  • Equity
  • Exposure

The Dallas Innovation Alliance is taking a cyclical approach to developing the metroplex into a smart city: Research>Iterate>Align>Design>Execute>Measure, and before beginning its project, the group spoke with members from other cities who were open and honest about their mistakes in attempting to develop for a smart city.

Smart city use cases

Asset mapping is one of the first pieces in getting started, so that areas can get to know the initiatives already in play that support smart cities.

“A lot of organizations didn’t know their initiatives counted toward the smart city,” Sanders said. “Some of those initiatives include Dallas OpenData, 100 Resilient cities, university partnerships, Smart services: 311 reporting app, big data initiative, etc.”smart city dallasDallas had to make sure they were leveraging national networks like the Envision America, Metrolab Network, Smart Cities Council, as well as federal initiatives including the White House OSTP and other agency efforts.

What is Dallas doing?

Dallas is creating a Phase I living lab by incorporating five to seven projects in the downtown, West End area. These projects include smart lighting, waste management, digital citizen-centric kiosks, smart irrigation, smart parking and public Wi-Fi. They are testing KPIs around economic development, energy and water cost and usage, public safety, transportation and others.

The outcome of all of these initiatives is to provide a case study for the city to see what worked and what didn’t and determine what to built going forwrad. The project has been successful so far, with many new tech companies moving to West End, like Snapchat and Accenture.

More specific projects include:

  • Intelligent LED Lighting: street lights in the living lab along market street will be converted to LED and will be on intelligent controls for remote adjustments and outage tracking.
  • Sensors measuring environmental impacts, including air quality and crowd/noise detection.
  • Waste management: solar powered waste management system increases capacity and productivity, sensors reduce CO2 and tells trucks when waste is high.
  • Interactive digital kiosks allow for public Wi-Fi, energy services and wayfinding/transit options.
  • Free Wi-Fi fiber/cellular LTE to provide coverage.
  • Smart parking – There is access of parking downtown, but no one knows where to find it.
  • Smart irrigation – demonstrate water and maintenance savings.
  • End-to-end mobility solutions. Working with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), the DIA is giving citizens a single-point solution, incorporating all modes of transit, including: mass transit, car, rideshare, bike sharing, walking and smart parking solutions.

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