It’s no secret that we are in the most rapid increase of technological innovations that the world has ever seen. It’s an exciting time to be alive, and a lot is changing. In turn, many large U.S. cities need to make changes to stay optimized for smart urban development that impacts the ways we live. Smart city technologies continue to pop-up and redefine what life is like in the busy streets that many Americans call home.
What Does It Mean to Be a “Smart City”?
Many cities across the globe are striving to be a “smart” city. What does this mean? Smart cities are leaders in implementing new communication and information technologies to provide better quality transportation, public utilities, and energy efficiency. These improvements, in turn, contribute to less consumption of resources, reduced waste and lower costs of operation. Overall, the goal for a smart city is to increase the quality of life of its dwellers through innovation and technological advancements. All these aspects come into play in the conversation about smart city infrastructure.
Which Technologies Show the Most Promise for Smart Innovation?
The smartest cities are using several technologies to provide value to their residents and make areas more efficient. The tech contributing to the digital transformation of cities and smart municipal operations includes:
- Autonomous and electric vehicles complete with charging stations
- LED streetlights for energy-efficiency and better safety
- Free kiosks to replace street payphones and traditional maps
- Increased citizen participation and access to government services
- Internet connection becoming faster and more accessible
- Open source data for government to understand where resources need allocated
- Mobile computing solutions for Emergency Responders and Law Enforcement to ensure public safety and rapid response teams are effective in their mandate.
Local governments are using these strategies, amongst many others unique to particular cities, to secure spots as technological leaders on the list of the smartest cities in the U.S.
Smart Innovations in Public Safety and Medicine
Two of any city’s largest concerns are public safety and public health. Cities are using audio sensors and brighter lights to ensure safety concerns and medical emergencies on city streets and in public establishments are detected sooner. Public safety systems are improving by quickly alerting first responders and police on threats to the public and getting them the information they need to better prepare for any situation. Firefighters will likely soon begin using drones to analyze the danger of a burning building and determine if any inhabitants are still inside.
Smart innovations in healthcare have also seen many breakthroughs and are redefining the way healthcare professionals access and use technology. Collecting and analyzing patient data allows medical professionals to better tailor treatments to individual patients and their particular health concerns. Educating the public on the impact this data has on treating their issues and how smart cities connect is going to become increasingly important to ensure no one has to worry about their well-being no matter what the location. Cities that prioritize these concerns earn a place in the top smart cities for a good reason.
Top Ten Smart Cities in the U.S.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at which cities in the United States leading the way in smart technologies:
1. New York City, NY
New York City tops the list as the smartest city in the United States. Since 2007, NYC has been making leaps to improve technology around the metropolis and make technological advances to better the lifestyle of city-goers. They are the leading city in the deployment of LED streetlights, which drastically reduce maintenance costs, increase longevity and are much more energy efficient compared to traditional street lights. LEDs also radiate less heat which makes them safer to use in a variety of situations.
The city is also leading the way in mobile computing innovations for cities, replacing outdated street phones with new, state-of-the-art kiosks called “Links.” These innovative kiosks provide many free services to the city’s visitors and residents, which include high-speed gigabit WiFi connection, several USB ports to charge your mobile devices while on the move and, in a pinch, a tablet capable of pulling up maps and other useful on-the-go applications, as well as calls to U.S. phones. The city is also focusing on giving more accurate bus arrival times to allow public commuters easier and more reliable transportation. As the population grows even further in New York City, ensuring that residents can move throughout the area with as little hassle as possible solves an often irritating complaint many citizens have with booming regions.
The local government, tech-knowledgable professionals and other city departments are collaborating on city planning initiatives such as OneNYC, NYCx and others to make all the diverse objectives for the future of the city possible.
2. Boston, MA
Boston is redefining what it means to be a “smart” city. While cost-efficient endeavors and technologically advanced solutions to challenges the city faces contribute to this new definition, city officials and citizens alike believe that making the area a comfortable, pleasurable hub of activity is just as important as the more straight-forward benefits that innovation brings. The city is working closely with the community through frequent public forums on the topic of artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous vehicles.
Boston is creating apps to allow citizens to be better involved, get better updates on street conditions, check their parking status and more easily communicate with each other as one way to make their city a more enjoyable place to live. The city has also created new commercial zones for smarter transportation, installed smart sensors and microHUBs, and looked into better autonomous vehicle policies to take advantage of exciting innovations.
3. San Francisco, CA
Amongst all the facets of what encompasses a “smart” city, sustainability is where the city of San Francisco shines. As more and more people move to the Golden State, many brilliant minds have contributed to innovative techniques, but the influx also has created a strained housing situation and transportation system. City leaders believe that autonomous vehicles are the current generation’s most significant breakthrough in transportation, and plan to use them to launch a transportation revolution that redefines how commuters navigate through the busy city.
Managing San Francisco’s busy traffic is a forefront of concerns, and non-profits such as Joint Venture Silicon Valley are leading the charge. More than 50 percent of residents commute by public transit, bicycling and walking, but almost half a million citizens still rely on their own cars to get where they need to be. This issue has caused SmartCitySF, the organization partially responsible for these technological efforts, to optimize how their transportation works to cater to everyone’s needs.
In addition to transportation, San Francisco also offers the fastest speed Internet in all of the United States and has some unique technological advancements throughout many different industries. While their challenges are vast, they have been making moves to eliminate many concerns with how people perceive the area and challenges they face.
4. Chicago, IL
Chicago is using data to reach for the top of the list for most innovative cities in the U.S. They have pushed their citizens to understand the benefits that data has on establishing an effective innovation campaign. They have incorporated over 500 sensor nodes to collect information valuable to making decisions on many different initiatives. This program has been a considerable success in jump-starting other technological improvements.
They also hope to catch up with New York City’s LED streetlight campaign by replacing 270,000 street lights with LED lights by 2021. Companies such as Philips, GE, Telensa and SilverSpring Networks are to thank for being major stakeholders in this initiative. WiFi kiosks similar to the “Links” used in NYC are also in their trial stage to keep city-goers more connected. Smart sanitation bins that notify waste collectors when the containers should be emptied and increase waste capacity compared to standard disposal techniques are helping keep the metropolis clean and green.
Chicago officials are keeping the younger demographic in the loop by teaching data analytic skills in high school. Chicago will continue educating their residents on the importance of open data platforms and how they directly correlate with city improvements.
5. Seattle, WA
Seattle has grown by well over 70,000 people in half a decade, which has made the issue of improving sustainability and energy use a real priority for city government staff. They are harnessing the power of smart sensors, cloud computing and high-speed networks that save on energy output to help them in these attempts to keep Seattle’s reputation as a great place to reside.
Following the footsteps of Chicago, Seattle is also stressing the importance of data in making sensible decisions for their many residents. They understand some citizens may feel uneasy about widespread data collection, and city officials are making it evident that their biggest concern is preventing the misuse of open-data gathered. Through these outlets and many other operations that are changing around the city, promises about becoming a smart, data-driven city seem very likely, and Seattle is expected to support the 31 percent increase in population that they project in the coming 15 years.
6. Charlotte, NC
Charlotte, N.C., started their “smart” endeavors in 2010, and since then, have made great leaps and bounds. SustainCharlotte is a non-profit organization that has been coming up with ways to solve their sustainability challenges. Energy consumption has dropped by over 19 percent by analyzing the inclusion of electric vehicles on Charlotte roads, lowering carbon emission fuels, educating citizens on sensible energy use, designing new buildings to use less energy than their predecessors, maximizing energy in already standing establishments and other renewable energy outlets.
They’ve also rolled out state-of-the-art technology contributing to increased reach of Internet access, education about technology and overall digital literacy, so the community understands the changes made around their area. Community leaders are rethinking local waste management and reconsidering waste treatment as well. Charlotte is becoming a better place to live for everyone due to all these efforts, as well as many others.
7. Washington, D.C.
The District of Columbia has come together to significantly improve the way of life for residents and travelers alike. Smarter DC has led the city in these initiatives and aims to optimize how “smart” city technology is incorporated into the district. They address city challenges to enhance economic growth, interconnect devices and promote intelligent city infrastructure.
Highlighted projects include smart waste management, video sensors used to analyze traffic volume, better management of water and leak detection, LED lighting, increased connectivity and the preservation of natural landmarks and wildlife centers. The city has also seen brilliant innovations in law enforcement. Projects include having some policemen wear cameras to understand better their day-to-day interactions with citizens, which has increased trust and enhanced transparency between uniformed officers and those whom they protect. Data analysis of this footage in combination with other fronts has improved policies and helped make more informed decisions on how the city runs.
8. Columbus, OH
Smart transportation systems are the leading initiative in Columbus, Ohio. In 2015, the United States Department of Transportation challenged U.S. cities to submit proposals on how they plan to increase the flow of traffic in their area in sustainable ways. Columbus came out on top and landed a $40 million grant to begin incorporating their proposed strategies. Using the government grant and other private sector contributions, they have rolled out a fleet of electric vehicles and vehicle charging stations, as well as other new technology that will make it safer for more cautious citizens such as pregnant women and the elderly to get about their bustling city.
Their goals include becoming the first carbon-neutral city and raising $1 billion solely committed to smart city projects. Since these objectives have been in mind, they’ve created the technology to enable cars to better communicate with one another to reduce accidents and optimize traffic patterns, increased connectivity on the go, enhanced parking availability to support more traffic for events hosted in the city and coordinated large vehicle patterns better.
9. Los Angeles, CA
The City of Angels put their focus on sustainability and resilience when devising their “smart” city innovations. They are carefully analyzing data to develop new platforms and tailor the needs of city innovators on many fronts. They’ve built 2,400 miles of new roads at low cost, increased residency in Los Angeles while improving the quality of life and promoted LA-based startups which has led to over 200 small business generating more than $3 billion in their yearly capital.
LA has the most electric vehicles and charging stations amongst medium-sized states in the U.S., and is the 2nd leading city after NYC in incorporating LED streetlights. They’re also on the trend of replacing basic garbage cans with smart sanitation bins and rank first amongst any state in solar panel technology. Los Angeles has also become the leader in the inclusion of smart meters which record electricity consumption more accurately and frequently, allowing officials to make better decisions on what is essential to keeping goals relevant and useful to citizens.
10. Atlanta, GA
There are many aspects of technology and innovation that SmartATL, Atlanta’s smart city campaign, is looking to accomplish. The city’s operational efficiency, mobility, environmental sustainability and public safety are at the forefront of these goals, and the public, as well as businesses, are contributing to them as well. Coordinating all these efforts has made it easy to form an accurate roadmap on what is most important to those that make Atlanta a great place to live in 2018.
Projects such as reducing street light energy cost, reducing unlawful presence, increasing smart waste management and bettering water treatment are all projects that have seen great promise in their earlier stages. City officials also plan to establish public high-speed WiFi to city goers, deploy sensors to understand better how their projects are changing lifestyles, experiment with autonomous vehicles and more. In the coming years, the changes to Atlanta could be massive, and will undoubtedly be an exciting city to watch.
Make Your City Smarter With Datalux
Public service employees need computing systems that keep up with more advanced software, and that they can take anywhere. When it comes to public safety, healthcare and industrial systems, professionals in these domains need dependable units with long-service life, on-site installation and support, and fully integrated products. Custom solutions that include all-in-one packages can reduce costs and save you from having to shop around for each component. Datalux encompasses all these elements and presents the first Windows-based integrated mobile data terminal for public safety and the first all-in-one computer for hospital use. Working with Datalux can jump-start the way public safety is monitored and how healthcare providers access technology. To find out more about how we can help make your city smarter, contact us today.