San Diego Speaks About Largest City-Based IoT Platform In World

We spoke with the City of San Diego, recipient of one of the 2018 Smart 50 Awards, about their winning project. Learn more about how San Diego deployed the largest city-based IoT platform in the world.

City of San Diego is empowering communities, fostering innovation, and improving infrastructure to enhance quality of life in the city. In partnership with Cleantech San Diego and Current, powered by GE, City of San Diego is upgrading 14,000 streetlights to reduce energy costs by 60% as well as transform them into a connected digital network that can optimize parking and traffic, enhance public safety, and mobility opportunities. The deployment of 3,200 smart sensor nodes is the largest city-based deployment of an “Internet of Things” platform in the world.  These smart sensor nodes capture real-time anonymous sensor data to do things such as direct drivers to open parking spaces, help first responders during emergencies, track vehicle, pedestrian and bicycles, reduce GHG emissions, and identify intersections that can be improved to enhanced mobility options for citizens. The sensor data is accessible through open APIs that gives city administrators and app developers the opportunity to make neighborhoods safer and smarter and to grow the app and sharing economy.  Thanks to the City’s Open Data initiative and real-time sensor data from this new network, San Diego is empowering its citizens with transparency and efficiency and unleashing innovation from the developer community.

Q: What does the term ‘smart city’ mean to you, and how does your project contribute to a larger smart city vision?

A: A smart city is a municipality that serves, connects, and empowers its citizens with technology, information, and communications to enhance the quality of life and improve the economic growth.  This sensor network project laid the foundation of the digital infrastructure that is open at the top and open at the bottom.  With future-proofed design, the sensor node is extensible to neighboring devices for new use cases.  The open APIs allow City of San Diego to enlist the local developer communities, universities, start-ups, and entrepreneurs to build innovative apps solving city challenges.  It not only enhances the livability and work-ability of the city, it also brings more job opportunities and economic growth.  Smart City San Diego is truly built for the community, by the community.

Q: Why is the implementation of your project transformational in our current society?

A: The deployment of 3,200 smart sensor nodes is the world’s largest city-based Internet of Things platform. It transformed the lighting network into a digital infrastructure and put powerful, real-time anonymous sensor data into the hands of developers to create apps and software that can benefit the community. San Diego is demonstrating a true partnership with its citizens to build a city of tomorrow. It is beyond transformation.  It’s arevolution.

Q: What advice did you receive along the way that helped you complete your winning project?

A: Always put San Diegans first.  Focus on the vision to build the city for the community and by the community.  Involve the city early in the decision-making process.  We hosted a block party in partnership with GE more than 1 year before the deployment to inquire, inform, and involve the citizens to take pride in the transformation.

Q: What advice would you give a city community or a solution provider looking to implement a municipal-level project?

A: Always put your citizens first.  Look beyond the silo focus from each department.  Work together across departments, with local universities, communities, trusted technology advisors and business partners.  Keep your citizens informed and involved.  Focus on the long-term vision with an open and extensible platform. Be visionary!

Q: What does it mean to you to win the Smart 50 Awards?

A: It is a honor to be recognized and endorsed with the Smart 50 Awards.  We believe the digital transformation of San Diego will lead the City to the world’s smartest city in the near future.  We are also willing to share our experience with all of our peers to make the world a better place to live, work, and play.