Smart Cities to Watch Part 2: Denver and Richmond

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

In my last blog post, I looked at smart cities initiatives in Boston and Atlanta. This time, we’ll take a look at what’s happening in two more forward-thinking cities: Denver and Richmond.

Before we do that, however, it’s worthwhile to revisit the three things you’ll need to keep in mind as you build an ongoing relationship with decision-makers in those cities:

Align your solutions to each city’s goals. To become a long-term service provider in the smart cities landscape, you need to show that your technology can help provide better, more efficient services.

Tie your technology to the delivery of citizen services. Technology doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Make sure that you can explain how your technology can improve services to citizens and the value it brings to the city.

Strategic partnerships are key. Smart cities need to technologies to integrate with other platforms and applications. Partnering with vendors that provide complementary applications and platforms will offer an integrated solution that city decision-makers will find compelling.Denver: Innovation and improvement through technology

Spurred by the US Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge and Panasonic’s move to Denver, the city created Denver Smart City in 2015 to bring innovation and improvement through technology.

Denver has partnered with other cities in the state through the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, in which private companies, universities and strategic organizations statewide collaborate on overcoming challenges and develop best practices. For example, Arrow Electronics is planning to open a smart cities lab this year to aid in the development and testing of technologies. Like what we saw in Boston, this will be an area where you can form key partnerships with emerging technology companies to expand your reach and deliver real value, all the while developing relationships with key city stakeholders.

Given the ever-growing population in the Denver metro area, the city aims to use data to combat issues associated with congestion, aging public infrastructure and smog and other environmental problems. In one such project, the Denver Department of Public Works will collaborate with delivery and freight companies to install communication devices, allowing them to reroute trucks to improve traffic flow and prioritize speed of delivery. Communication devices will be tested in up to 1,500 city fleet vehicles to provide real-time reporting of traffic and road conditions.

Richmond: Using multiple stakeholders to improve efficiency

Richmond, along with the Commonwealth of Virginia, is taking a “shared services” approach through the Virginia Smart Communities Working Group, recognizing that smart technology can be developed and implemented with greater efficiency when more stakeholders are engaged. No one vendor or city can do it all themselves, it takes the expertise of many to create a smart community. Cities like Richmond are utilizing lessons learned, technologies, and strategy used by sister cities to develop a more efficient smart city implementation plan.

In one example, the Greater Richmond Transit Company is providing ADA eligible riders with an app that matches them with a vehicle and an UZURV driver that meets their needs in a much quicker and efficient manner. UZURV has been successfully operating in Richmond since August 2017. With such success, UZURV might look for partners to help them scale to other cities.

Separately, the Virginia Department of Transportation is working in partnership with StreetLight Data to collect and utilize transportation-related data. Data is collected from mobile devices and the StreetLight Insight platform analyzes the traffic patterns. StreetLight Insight is being used to evaluate congestion mitigation tactics on I-95, I-66 and other traffic-ridden commuter corridors.

Identifying heavily congested areas and potential mitigation tactics are just the first step in delivering true results. The Virginia Department of Transportation will need to test the tactics and operationalize them; that’s where you, the vendor, come in – helping the department test, analyze and deliver tactical plans.

Smart cities are still in their relative infancy in the United States, but the momentum is clearly growing. By considering their long-term goals, the citizen services they provide and partnerships that offer integrated solutions, you’ll be better able to find a way into this business that will make you a trusted vendor now and in the future.


Keep up on SLED trends and subscribe 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.

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