The Town of Cary Starts with Campus Test Bed

Where do leaders begin? With themselves. That’s exactly the strategy Cary, North Carolina employs as they embark on the journey to become a smart community.

Though not quite large enough to be a city – Cary can claim status as the second largest town in America, the community’s ambitions are anything but small. By the time summer rolls around, they plan to have a fully functioning IoT town campus in beta.

Cary has an active citizen community complete with a plethora of technologists and programmers.  In addition the Triangle J Council of Governments ensures CIO collaboration across seven communities in the state. But even with all of this coordination, it hasn’t always been easy.

“[Smart city technology] is hard to sell; it’s been seen as a nice-to-have,” Chief Information Officer Nicole Raimundo said. “Because there aren’t [smart city] standards, it’s unsettling to make a big investment. We also have to look at regional efforts. For example, if there were opportunities to control all street lights throughout the county, we would have to be on the same technology and with a lack of standards, that’s difficult.”

After looking at how larger cities, like New York, Chicago and Boston, are approaching the integration of smart city technology, Cary realized that its own town campus would work as a perfect lab to test scalable technologies.

Included in its upcoming beta phase, the town will monitor parking and control street lights with sensors, offer free outdoor WiFi, and even provide notifications when trash and recycling bins are full.

Two parking “swap spots” will reside just outside of the police station, complete with camera monitoring and extra lighting. When residents really want that affordable pre-owned furniture from Craig’s List, for example, but don’t trust the seller, Cary’s swap spots can help facilitate a safe exchange.

Residents have been supportive of smart city initiatives and are engaged about technology initiatives that serve to benefit the town. There have been high levels of participation in the Information Services Advisory Board, hackathons, Open Data Day, internships, and even college capstone projects that analyze real city data.

Cary collaborates and lives out its smart city vision every day in the town center. Learn more about their efforts on their website, and catch Nicole Raimundo at the Smart Cities Connect Conference & Expo this June.