Finding the Right Technology Fit for your City Is Easier than you Think

The old saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” is still true today. Similarly, when in LA, do as the Los Angeles commuters do, sit in traffic. Naturally, the Los Angeles County officials are looking for the best way to ease this day-to-day pain of congestion. Los Angeles is quickly becoming a city with infrastructure which cannot keep up with the needs of its citizens, especially commuters.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 15 million people commute to work every day in California and a staggering 470,000 people sit in traffic for more than 90 minutes in Southern California. City officials are spending endless hours trying to figure out how to alleviate these problems.

Many cities are embracing technology which is key for their citizens’ needs, as well as improving other city initiatives. City of Pittsburgh, for instance, is revitalizing its economy in the autonomous vehicle, artificial intelligence, and green energy industry. City residents want clean energy, clean water, and environmental friendly infrastructure, while keeping the former Steel City charm alive. The city is also a technology hub for companies like Google and Uber. First, Uber pioneered their autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh and now Ford Motor Co. is working with Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute and local AI (Artificial Intelligence) firms to spearhead their autonomous vehicles division, investing in Smart City initiatives the city is keenly moving toward.

Choose the Right Technology Which Delivers

So how do cities find the right technology fit? Cities first need to assess whether they will focus on city-centric or citizen-centric services. It is inherently easier to know this earlier rather than later, since this will drive project development and make it easier for both parties. There is no need to despair if an outright solution is not in sight, some tech-savvy solutions propose strategies to gain the favor for both audiences.

Updating infrastructure often comes with budget constraints, laden with paperwork and lengthy government processes. Governments must also implement services that work for everyone and it can take time to gather resources for larger projects. Studies suggest that the easiest type of projects cities can improve is by improving parking related woes. If cities improved congestion, cruising, and parking spaces, it’s an easy home run. Properly implemented, many tech-savvy solutions are available in today’s market which are geared towards building higher revenue streams for cities from parking. Any initial or ongoing investments are recouped within 2 years or less; a win-win for both cities and citizens.

Currently, the 32-billion-dollar parking industry (National Parking Association) is in the process of getting a tech overhaul and continuing its growth into international markets. Technology has made this industry an iterative, more data-centric, and user-driven market. Data collected by companies are used to re-imagine the way cities function; using analytics to curb parking demand, creating higher enforcement compliance, occupancy, etc. Large cities are on board but so are smaller cities and municipalities, who are beginning to see the benefits of using technology to drive growth.

Other smart city projects that are easy to implement are using energy-saving LED lights, which can significantly reduce electricity usage and replacement costs. Some LED lights are retrofitted with Wi-Fi and have real-time cameras, which provide useful surveillance for crime fighting in cities. Some offer data that monitor traffic patterns and pedestrians for the transportation industry. There are major benefits for implementing technology with meaningful implications in peoples’ lives.

Smaller manageable products and technology integrations offer greater citizen engagement and improve quality of life in addition to timely accessibility of services. Using lower-cost and easy to implement technology is crucial. Slowly easing into smart city projects and is a key element for social and environmental sustainability in addition to creating new revenue opportunities for cities.

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