Smart cities and sunshine – could Florida be the first fully “smart state”?

Florida
Photo by Gaetano Cessati on Unsplash

Florida has been winning awards recently. Not for our sunshine or our beaches, but for our burgeoning smart city projects. Around the world the use of information and communication technology (ICT) and Internet of Things (IoT) devices is transforming the lives of urban citizens. And it has set in motion the “smart city” revolution. This is nowhere truer than in America. 

So, why are we getting so excited about smart cities?

By deploying various sensors within existing and developing urban infrastructure – for example, in streetlights, buses, and traffic lights – it is possible to harness the power of data and improve the lives of everyone in our cities in ways we cannot yet imagine. In addition, the city’s various services will be coordinated and will improve safety, quality of life, cleanliness, etc.

Smart deployment of technology combined with the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) open the door for revolutionary innovations in traffic management and public services, public safety and security, efficient energy and waste management. Whether it is smart parking, applications through which the city finds you the parking space, or open data access, allowing citizens to monitor energy consumption across different buildings – the possibilities are endless.

Installation of energy efficient lighting and alternative energy sources allow cities to cut costs and carbon emission, making the clean, green future ever more achievable. Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is taking this particular approach, and has plans of being carbon neutral within the next few years. Efforts like this, along with responsible use of natural resources, are paving the way to a brighter world.

Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida has made clear that for him it is no longer a question of developing smart cities, but a question of how Florida can become the first “smart state”. On the same lines, Joe York, president of AT&T Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, who worked with DeSantis for his election campaign, said Florida has the chance to lead the nation in data infrastructure at a moment when 5G is rolling out and IoT is changing the nature of connectivity itself.

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In Orlando, citizens are getting behind their mayor’s vision of a smarter city. Having won an award for smart city readiness, Mayor Buddy Dyer is seeking additional funding for projects, along with a call out for a private sector consultant who can provide the necessary know-how and technological capabilities to turn his dreams into a roadmap with a full-proof strategy.

“Our vision is to become the most environmentally friendly, socially inclusive, technology-enabled, and economically vibrant city in the Southeast…we strive to be one of the most sustainable and resilient cities in the U.S,” Mayor Dyer said.

Fellow Floridians in Miami are making strong progress towards their own goal of being a smarter, cleaner place to live. The city also received a Smart City Council Readiness Award, alongside Orlando and three other cities. City of Miami Chief Information Officer, Kevin Burns, has spent time recently focused on spreading the message about the emergency response benefits of a more connected city. 

King tides, rising sea levels, and storm surges are a threat to many citizens living near the shore. With the help of 3D mobile mapping technology, not only can the resulting solution predict sea level rises, it has advantages in hurricane situations, allowing dynamic predictions of crisis effects.

“My ultimate goal is to automate that tool – turn it into an application that citizens or businesses can opt into,” Burns said. His idea is that signage would display warnings automatically according to threat levels of emergency weather, keeping citizens safer and more informed.

Another place in the United States transforming itself into a smart city and setting a high bar for Florida to follow, is Albuquerque, New Mexico. Making the right partnership has been instrumental to the city’s success. Through EnvisionABQ, Citelum, the French lighting company and smart city experts, are reducing the city-wide lighting costs and the carbon footprint of New Mexico’s largest city. 

At the end of 2017, Mayor Richard Berry completed a 15-year deal with Citelum to convert over 20,000 streetlights to LED energy efficient lights, implement IoT architecture, and make use of a central management system for operation and maintenance of the city.

“EnvisionABQ is the result of Mayor Berry’s vision for the future, as well as a tremendous collaborative work effort between the city’s and Citelum’s teams to engineer a custom lighting master plan and implement an innovative performance-based contract,” said Citelum U.S. general manager.

With Citelum, the city of Albuquerque has partnered with a global operator, managing many other major cities around the world – from Copenhagen, Dijion, and Barcelona, to Mexico City. Securing partners like this is necessary if cities are serious about their smart ambitions. And the example of Albuquerque just goes to show how with the right intentions, and the right private sector involvement, smart cities are very achievable.

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