Smart Cities to Watch Part 1: Boston and Atlanta

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

According to IDC, U.S. spending on smart cities initiatives may reach $26 billion by 2022. That spending will encompass a combination of services and assets, with support from software and connectivity.

When entering this market, here are three things to consider:

Focus on the city’s goals and align your solution accordingly. Cities are trying to deliver better, more efficient services. Focusing on delivering that improved service goes a long way to show your desire to be the city’s long-term solution partner.

Develop strategic partnerships. For long-term success, smart cities applications and pilots need to be integrated with other platforms and applications. Seek out partners working on complementary applications and platforms and present the city with an integrated solution.

Align your technology to the delivery of services to citizens. Smart cities technologies need to deliver improved services to the citizen. Ensure that your technology delivers that outcome.

With that said, here’s what’s happening in two leading smart cities: Boston and Atlanta.Boston: Improving the transportation landscape

Boston consistently ranks among the top in nationwide smart cities indices because of the proliferation of smart city projects and programs. The goal of one such program is to create a transportation landscape with zero deaths, injuries, disparities, emissions or stress with the help of two initiatives: Go Boston 2030 and the Mobility Innovation Lab.

Go Boston 2030 has been in development since 2015. Emphasizing analytics and guided largely through constituent input, the primary targets for 2030 are to:

  • Ensure every home in Boston is within a 10-minute walk of a rail station, key bus route stop, Hubway (bike share) station or car share
  • Eliminate traffic fatalities
  • Decrease Bostonians’ average commute time by 10 percent

Your approach here should be to work with the city not only in facilitating the data collection for each of their neighborhoods, but also in analyzing the data to make strategic and actionable recommendations.

The Mobility Innovation Lab, envisioned as a “teaching hospital for technology,” aims to decrease the lag time between studying a solution and implementing by using a digital simulator and a network of peer cities. Projects that succeed will be able to quickly scale to the city at large and collaborating cities statewide. As many of the technologies “grown” here come from emerging tech start-ups, partnerships will be key. What technologies can you offer that help extend the reach of these emerging smart city applications? Could they benefit from a comprehensive platform, more robust network security or enhanced analytics?

Atlanta: Using data for improved city services

In the southeast, Atlanta is going to be a city to watch as they expand their smart city efforts through partnerships with the community. One of their initiatives is utilizing a data-centric model to leverage descriptive, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive analytics to improve city efficiency, service delivery and transparency.

In support of that initiative, Atlanta created the North Avenue Smart Corridor in collaboration with Georgia Tech, supported by $3 million from the Renew Atlanta bond. Data collected along this corridor can be leveraged in city planning to improve transportation congestion, speed up law enforcement response times and more. Your approach here should be to work with the city to operationalize the analytics and techniques developed by Georgia Tech, enabling Atlanta to deliver results.

The Atlanta Department of Public Works has partnered with Rubicon Global, to develop a smart waste management program that utilizes a cloud-based app to optimize trash collection. The app tracks drivers’ progress through GPS, hydraulics, truck speed and vibration along the route to learn the usual route and create more efficient paths, without driver input. While this particular program is already operationalized, there are other areas of the city that can use this approach and they will be looking to the vendor community for help in the development and deployment of the program.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the technology that goes into the development a smart city, but it’s important to remember that a smart city’s goal is to deliver improved services to the citizen – be that faster, better, or less expensive. Focusing on the city’s goals and delivery of those services through strategic partnerships will be key to success in this market.

In our next installment, I’ll take a closer look at smart cities initiatives in Denver and Richmond.


Keep up on SLED trends by subscribing to immixGroup’s Government Sales Insider blog.

View this video, “Selling to SLED: Opportunities in Making Cities Smarter,” filmed during the 2018 Government IT Sales Summit.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: