San Diego joins an exclusive club of top global smart cities with the announcement of the largest city-based Internet of Things platform in the world. More than 3,200 smart sensors will be deployed through city streetlights to help optimize mobility, public safety and sustainability.
Many US cities have taken a slower approach to the smart city movement, launching careful pilot projects or choosing to invest time in important strategic planning. San Diego has taken a super sonic approach, quickly aligning city leaders, streamlining processes, cutting bureaucratic red tape and fostering an environment of collaboration and innovation.
When I visited San Diego in December of 2016 to co-host a round table with Mayor Kevin Faulconer, I got the sense that something important was about to happen. There was a contagious excitement about the promise that smart cities could bring to the city. Now I know that they were laying the groundwork for this inspiring deployment of connected technology.
Yesterday, the City of San Diego announced it will partner with GE to upgrade streetlights, which will reduce energy costs by 60 percent. This has major impact on air quality, which matches San Diego’s commitment to environmental leadership. Add to that the replacement of 14,000 streetlights which saves taxpayers an additional $2.4 million each year. The combination of environmental mindfulness and economic advantage makes complete sense — and cents.
Beyond the positive environmental impact and cost savings, these sensors will also provide real-time data to guide drivers. This includes everyone from first responders who need to quickly assess the best life-saving routes to downtown shoppers who are looking for a parking space. Even pedestrians and cyclists benefit when the data collected is used to increase the safety of public intersections. It seems that there is something for everyone.
San Diego is a city that gets it. The leadership knows how to move quickly to put the right technology in place that can elevate what matters most to citizens and residents. Other cities in the US and around the world can definitely benefit by learning from their approach.