The capital of United States Of America, Washington, DC is preparing itself to welcome a prosperous smart future that’s inclusively righteous. After working hard on the digital platform for more than two years, the city is now regarded as the first ‘Lighthouse City’ of US – a name awarded by the tech giant Cisco to the city where the company’s smart products serve the deployment of mass initiatives.
Being well on the track with other US cities, Washington is accepting the city challenges veraciously with tech associates, universities, and professionals. The city is not just leading the nation politically, it is also spearheading the smart strategies in the nation with the technology of the 21st century.
The 2040 Vision
In 2015, the state and city of Washington announced the implementation of technology initiatives across the Pennsylvania Avenue called as ‘PA 2040’. The first phase began with the deployment of LED street lights and installation of gigabit public WiFi in the avenue.
The LED street lights are the motion sensing lights that turn on/off considering the time when it gets dark and the time when people are around. A smarter feature of these lights is, it collects data that will be used in improving the district operations through tailor-made applications. Moreover, the lights are equipped with gigabit public WiFi that can be used in the proximity. In the long run, DC aims to replace all 70,000 lights of the city with smart LED.
So, with the phase 1 accomplished and the Cisco’s partnership already in motion, Cisco declared Washington as the first ‘Lighthouse City’ of US.
In context with the PA 2040 smart initiatives, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said, “We live in a world today where technology is fundamentally at the heart of the strategy of every organization around the world — and it’s not just the private sector. … It’s happening in cities and countries around the world,”. He added by saying, “Isn’t it appropriate that we choose our first Lighthouse City to be the nation’s capital?”
The Next Level Partnership
After winning the title of Lighthouse city, the District of Columbia has taken the partnership with Cisco to the next level. Cisco has given the word to the city to invest in startups, innovation centres, technology developments across the state. Moving forward, the company will also invest in phase 2 of PA 2040 which includes:
- Outfitting new technology trend in smart parking project
- Installation of sensors in trash cans (part of waste management project)
- Equipping energy and environment projects with the latest technology
Along with Cisco’s technology contribution, the company has promised to establish network education centres and innovation centres for the evolvement of startups and growth of students.
With ample of projects under progress, DC’s partnership with Cisco will prove to be beneficial in opening new channels of opportunities that will create new economic infrastructure, boost up a number of jobs and improve education combined with innovation and knowledge keeping public as well as private sectors in consideration.
While announcing Washington’s partnership with Cisco at an event, City Mayor Muriel Bowser said, “As mayor, I’m always excited when D.C. can set the bar and be the first in the nation, and that’s exactly what we’re doing in Washington,” Bowser said. “Some would have you believe that nothing is happening in cities, and we know that is not the case in Washington, D.C.
The University – City Joint Venture
The University of Washington collaborated with the City of Seattle establishing a new network ‘The Metrolab Network’ as the part of the White House smart city initiatives. The partnership focuses on solutions to bring about 21st century expertise to concrete reality.
The network showcases the partnership among research universities that possess expertise in the field of robotics, engineering and computer science and the cities that are envisioning to be the testing grounds for 21st century tech solutions.
The cities-universities collaboration are working at the forefront to invent innovative sensors by the help of engineers, to exercise study determinants, to analyse the solutions to poverty, to overcome the challenging problems through the new scientific ways and a lot more. Besides, the network will also take input from the employees who’ve been around for a long time and have the experience of facing daily challenges of operating a city.
To be precise, The Metrolab Network will focus on ameliorating three dimensions :
- Infrastructure – providing city services to residents with due attention to middle-class population and underserved people
- Transparent Government – incorporating enhanced democratic governance by active public participation and data-driven planning of policies
- Strong Collaborations – focusing on solutions to common challenges in Seattle with that being shared with other cities too
The Seattle – University of Washington venture will pave way for smart city inventions that can make the city equitable, inclusive, safe, secure, healthy and liveable which will transform the future.
Improvements In Transportation
Reports prove that the roads of Washington are the most congested ones in the nation, with the pressure increasing at peak hours. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that by 2040, the congestion will bring a 43% rise in the total delay caused.
To prevent this from happening, the city is making plans to build a strong transport infrastructure accompanied with focus on investments in mass transits, car sharing, bike lanes and greenways that will cut down congestion and pollution and provide convenience and affordability to citizens.
(From more than 15 years DC has been known as the strong supporter of car sharing practice. ZipCar, a car operator of the last decade launched its car sharing system in the city by opening the second location in 2001. Later DDOT came up with its first bike share program in 2008, launched successfully as the Capital Bike share program in 2010. In 2012, another car sharing system came into the city known as ‘Car2go’. Washington was the third city in the US to bring in ‘Car2go’ point-to-point share. In just 4 years of the span, the Car2go vehicles increased from 200 to 700.
The car sharing practice was gaining grounds since then due to the residents’ need – one-third of the population did not own a vehicle and more than half of the population commuted through public transport. The car sharing program since then boosted the sharing economy of the city. And now for the next decade and future, the innovative car sharing program will take the front seat).
But just the sharing economy will not do for the entire transport infrastructure. For the same, A one and only, historic $16 billion transportation package (the biggest investment so far) was approved by Governor Inslee which will carry on the mobility operations in DC for the next 16 years.
With this investment, a lot more will change the transport infrastructure from roads to vehicles. Some of them are discussed below:
- Renovation of floating bridge across Lake Washington
- Improvements to reduce the number of bottlenecks on the roads
- Redesigning the maintenance strategy of the current transport system with an exceeding $1 billion dollar investment in day-to-day maintenance and safety management
- Improving the bridge structures
Over and above, the projects will keep a check on the unexpected projects and events that lead to exceeding costs and disruptions. Washington isn’t just improving the concrete constructions, it is creating new plans to deliver resilient, safe and reliable mobility system for every individual who wishes to walk, ride, drive, carpool or car share to their destinations. And, at the same time curbing on traffic congestion and carbon emissions.
More than just discussed, there are loads of projects that are well shaping the ‘Smart DC’ of tomorrow.