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IDC names "best and brightest" North American smart city projects

The winning projects include an Alexa-assisted citizen contact centre and data-driven systems to reduce flooding and address road accident hotspots.

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Albuquerque is the first city to integrate an Alexa voice assistant with a 311 contact centre
Albuquerque is the first city to integrate an Alexa voice assistant with a 311 contact centre

IDC Government Insights has announced the 13 winners of the third annual IDC Smart Cities North America Awards (SCNAA).

 

The awards recognise the progress North American communities have made in executing smart cities projects, and aim to share best practices to help accelerate progress in the region and beyond.

 

Following more than 2,500 votes, winners were named in 11 categories, relating to the use of technology and data, partnerships, funding models and community engagement.

 

The winning projects include an Alexa-assisted citizen contact centre and data-driven systems to reduce flooding and address road accident hotspots.

 

"Winners on this list represent the best and brightest change agents within government and their successful projects offer a roadmap to others."

 

"It is clear from the overwhelming number of impressive responses we received to our third annual SCNAA awards, government officials across the country are committed to implementing innovative smart city initiatives, designed to bring about meaningful changes to the way we live, work, play and interact," said Ruthbea Yesner, vice president, IDC Government Insights and Smart Cities Strategies.

 

"Winners on this list represent the best and brightest change agents within government and their successful projects offer a roadmap to others looking to implement effective change and radically transform urban environments for the better."

 

The winners are:

 

Civic engagement

 

Albuquerque, New Mexico: Albuquerque 311 Digital Voice Channel

 

Albuquerque is understood to be the first city in the world to integrate an Alexa voice assistant with a 311 contact centre, giving citizens a new way to report issues and request assistance, even outside business hours. It also boosts accessibility for citizens with disabilities.

 

Albuquerque’s solution pairs Alexa with Oracle Service Cloud, which provides centralised service request management regardless of channel.

 

 

Smart buildings

 

Washington, DC: Using open-source tools to acquire energy and performance data from municipal buildings

 

Washington DC has committed to halving its greenhouse gas emissions by 2032, compared to 2006 levels, and to becoming carbon-neutral by 2050.

 

Buildings account for 74 per cent of the district’s total emissions and are the largest contributor to the city’s carbon emissions.

 

DC’s Department of General Services (DGS) deployed an open-source energy data platform named VOLTTRON, providing an integrated layer where data from controllers, switches, meters, sub-meters and various devices in buildings can be collected and managed in a secure, single platform.

 

The project went live in September 2019. The city forecasts $1.5 million per year in energy savings and that initiatives enabled or supported by the data collected via the platform will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 70,000 tons by 2020.

 

Smart water

 

  • Town of Cary and City of Raleigh: North Carolina regional water-level monitoring data-sharing pilot

 

Public and private partners are working together in the region to create vendor-agnostic architecture guidelines, common datasets and recommendations for responsible use of city data, starting with the shared use case of regional water-level monitoring to improve responses to stormwater emergencies.

 

  • Markham, Ontario, Canada - Smart City Accelerator Programme

 

Markham and a technology consortium led by Bell embarked on a project to trial Internet of Things (IoT) and other technologies to deliver a platform to give the city real-time visibility in one place.

 

Ultrasonic storm/flood sensors were installed under manhole covers and in rivers installed on hangers to gather data on water levels to predict flooding. In-pipe pressure sensors provide insight into potential water main leaks.

 

Markham and a technology consortium led by Bell embarked on a project to trial Internet of Things (IoT) and other technologies to deliver a platform solution to give the city real-time visibility in one place.

 

Sensors on hydrants allow the city to triangulate anomalies to pinpoint pipe integrity issues so cracked pipes can be fixed before they break and location accuracy reduces dig repair costs.

 

Acoustic sensors inside water mains also listen to the water stream itself and can flag issues to proactively schedule repairs.

 

Transportation: Connected and autonomous vehicles

 

Peachtree Corners, Georgia: Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners

 

Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners is a 5G-enabled autonomous vehicle test track and smart city ’living laboratory’. It is one of the world’s only real-world testing environments where people, autonomous vehicles and smart city technology interact every day.

 

Transportation: Infrastructure

 

Miami-Dade County, Florida: Adaptive signal control technology

 

In 2016, Miami was the fifth most congested city in the US and the 10th most congested city in the world, according to a study by Inrix.

 

The Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works deployed adaptive signal control technology, resulting in a 10 per cent reduction in travel time along the corridor where the traffic controllers were used.

 

 

Police and law enforcement and emergency management

 

Chattanooga and Hamilton County, Tennessee: 911 Project – Predicting hotspots for accidents

 

Traffic volume, geographic centrality and unique geology have led to an increase in traffic accidents and fatalities every year since 2015, with roadway accidents now the leading cause of death for residents under the age of 55 in the area.

 

The Chattanooga Smart Community Collaborative (CCSC), part of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Center for Urban Informatics and Progress (CUIP), launched the ’911 Project – Predicting Hotspots for Accidents’ in early 2018. It uses machine learning, specifically multi-layer perceptron (MLP) neural network models, to analyse both historic and current 911 data to identify accident trends.

 

This dataset is cross-referenced with DarkSky weather data, roadway geometric data and accident time, date, latitude and longitude. The dataset is then used to create a visualisation of accident ’hotspots’ within a virtual grid of Chattanooga helping to determine mitigation strategies.

 

 

Sustainable Infrastructure

 

St Petersburg, Florida: University of South Florida, College of Marine Science

 

The University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science is launching ’Guardians of the Gulf’, a pilot Marine Science STEM and youth programme that will provide an interactive learning experience about the coastal environment and marine life.

 

This follows St Petersburg’s Innovation District receiving a three-year grant from Spectrum for smart lighting, traffic safety and marine science initiatives.

 

The programme will leverage technologies implemented by Spectrum, including wireless point-to-point connectivity, Wi-Fi, underwater equipment (HD cameras and drones) and a wireless sensor network that will broadcast real-time marine life back to the students, as well as providing smart lighting and traffic alerts.

 

Administration

 

Houston, Texas: Harris County homestead exemption audit programme

 

The Harris County Appraisal District is using a LexisNexis solution to examine homestead exemption filings by combining them with the company’s public records data, identity analytics and advanced linking technology to help investigators detect erroneous and fraudulent filings.

 

The Harris County Appraisal District has reported identifying more than $22 million in tax revenue using the solution.

 

Economic development

 

Topeka, Kansas: Open data and project portal

 

To increase transparency and accountability, Topeka has created data portals for the budget, spending and other projects. This information is machine-readable and filterable.

 

Detailed information is available on 160 projects, representing an estimated budget of $220 million.

 

Topeka is also aiming to reduce staff time and costs by 10 to 20 per cent through the initiative.

 

Public health and social services

  • Sonoma County, CA: Co-ordinated care

 

The 2017 Sonoma wildfires were a catalyst for Sonoma County to begin executing on its vision of integrated service delivery.

 

A data hub from IBM brings together data from various department back-end systems and provides the master data management, business rules engine, authorisations and consents, and alerts and notifications. This supports the county to provide holistic services to individuals with complex needs.

 

The 2017 Sonoma wildfires provided the flashpoint for Sonoma County to begin executing on its vision of integrated service delivery.

 

Reported operational efficiencies include reduced duplications of services; improved workflow efficiencies; increased service and programme awareness; and reduced recidivism.

 

  • State of Oklahoma: OK Benefits

 

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) is moving to a single integrated solution for benefit programmes and service, known as OK Benefits. The strategy aims to support more data-driven decisions while reducing administrative and operational costs.

 

This includes the Master Person Index "a single repository for identifying every person who interacts with DHS".

 

 

Urban planning and land use

 

Santa Clara County, California: Assessment appeals data management system

 

The County of Santa Clara Assessment Appeals Unit processes several thousand appeals applications each year from residents who, by law, can appeal against their property taxes under certain conditions.

 

The manual, paper-driven system was resulting in long turnaround times, high error rates and poor visibility for applicants.

 

The new system, which uses DocuSign and multiple Oracle products, has automated the entire process with centralised appeal data, a reportedly smoother applicant experience, better reporting capabilities and scalability.

 

Using the system, 32 processes have been automated, boosting efficiency by 50 per cent and increasing online filings.

 

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