5 Projects Prove Colorado is Committed to Smart Cities

Cross-sector collaboration is a common theme in smart cities. Implementing successful smart city partnerships require a complex level of engagement between government, industry, academia, and community advocates. While this is easily demonstrated with a Venn Diagram, the long-term implementation and maintenance of these partnerships and resulting projects are contingent on the presence of an organization that brings all of these stakeholders together under a common vision. 

The Colorado Smart Cities Alliance is an example of a successful smart cities convening organization that recruits and rallies its members to invest in the future of the region. The Alliance states this intention boldly on their website, “We are built to advance smart cities investments that are outcome-driven and can be applied regionally to advance civic innovation in Colorado.” 

The Alliance’s small-but-mighty team, led by Executive Director Tyler Svitak and Sr Manager Chelsea Barrett, work with members to implement an impressive list of projects that seek to make a positive impact in the lives of Colorado residents.  

Smart Parking

Parking is one of those activities that has multiple impacts to city infrastructure but are often difficult to see. Drivers who can’t find readily-available parking are forced to circle city streets, creating intensified traffic, potential hazards to pedestrians, increased vehicle emissions, and result in an overall frustrating experience. To address these issues, The Alliance brokered a partnership that resulted in a smart parking solution that  digitizes all parking assets across a community and communicates them to the public. This initial effort has successfully scaled to three jurisdictions in Colorado as well as outside of the state.

Vehicle-to-Grid EV Charging

The Alliance is able to identify innovative initiatives that both satisfy the needs of individual contributors as well as create value for the community. As an example, the City of Boulder is testing one of the first vehicle-to-building fast chargers in the country. With support from the University of Colorado Denver and Fermata Energy, two programs are underway that allow Electric Vehicles (EVs) to supplement energy needs of commercial buildings. The reduction of peak energy demand delivers significant cost savings and optimizes renewable energy efforts. This is all part of a broader effort to revolutionize energy systems providing benefits to residents, businesses, and the environment.

Air Quality Monitoring

Poor air quality has a sizable impact on residents’ health, especially for children and other vulnerable communities. In partnership with Denver Public Schools (DPS), the Alliance is playing a pivotal role replicating Denver’s Love My Air program across multiple jurisdictions. Real-time data is available, by neighborhood, to support responsible interventions, education, and community empowerment activities. Beyond immediate impacts to mitigate health concerns, this information also enables informed urban development. 

These are a few of The Alliances’ many active programs in addition to several major projects in the pipeline. 

The Smart Futures Lab

With the support of a $2 million U.S. Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant, The Alliance is establishing a smart cities accelerator with a special invitation for underrepresented populations to envision, launch and build smart city solutions. Twelve companies, all led by BIPOC, women, and People with Disabilities, were just accepted into the Accelerator’s first cohort. These entrepreneurs and innovators will have access to a 5G network and Living Laboratory located on the University of Colorado-Denver campus. Stay tuned for announcements from this exciting and high-impact program.

Connected Colorado Challenge

Cities often need support aligning innovative city solutions with procurement processes. The Alliance responded to its city members’ needs with a creative, challenge-based procurement program resulting in 11 smart cities projects across Colorado. Nine cities are testing innovation solutions based on four community-defined problems. The program has plans to scale across the state and the U.S. 

This list is a small sampling of the many exciting initiatives underway through the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance. This organization is proof that smart city projects can be both community-focused and led while also inspiring innovative, technology-forward solutions that make a difference in the lives of citizens and residents. This model, which runs on partner participation, is a framework for the nation. 

Smart Cities Connect is thrilled to return to Denver for our Spring 2023 Conference & Expo. We are grateful to the team at the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance and their long-list of influential partners for being our hosts, friends, and collaborators. We look forward to sharing more information about their incredible contributions to the smart city community this May.