What is a Smart City?

By Rachel Eckert, SLED consultant

Most of us who have been in and around the state, local and education space (SLED) have seen the term “smart city” more times than we can count. A simple search for “what is a smart city” returns dozens of examples, definitions and solution sheets that explain specific implementations being done under the heading of “smart city.” In a nutshell, a smart city is one that aims to improve the delivery of services to its citizens using technology.

That’s a simple definition and easy enough to understand, but, how does a city become smart? What technologies do they use to be smart? How does a vendor approach a city to make it smarter? And when you add in the typical SLED wrinkle with each city being its own fiefdom, finding a common definition and a strategy to target a smart city is understandably difficult.

Let’s dive into that definition a bit deeper. Cities provide all sorts of services to their citizens including public safety, transportation, health care and more. Each year, cities see their populations grow, thus increasing the number of people to whom they must now provide those public safety, transportation or health care services. The problem is that most cities aren’t seeing the same increase in budgets, leaving them with taxed resources and an ever-growing mission.

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Smart Governments Get Smarter with AI

By Rachel Eckert, SLED consultant

It’s no secret that state and local governments are getting smarter, rolling out smart city pilots that range from smart street lights to entire smart transportation corridors. The deployment of Internet of Things technologies is enabling governments to become smarter and faster, but can they do more?

In one word, yes!

Artificial Intelligence is that tool, the tool that can enable state and local governments to connect seamlessly with citizens, speed processing time and facilitate a more connected government. In the consumer world, AI is being used for marketing in technologies like virtual assistants that learn our lifestyle, preferences, schedule, etc. and recommend products and services tailored to us.

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Opportunity for Vendors to Shape IoT Standards in State Government

Rachel Eckert_100 x 135

By Rachel Eckert, SLED consultant

Like many other states, Ohio has a multitude of smart, connected projects that include a drone detection system, autonomous and connected vehicle corridors, and a federally funded smart city project in Columbus. You can now find another project underway: the development of a new common framework for the state’s digital transportation technologies.

A contract to create this framework was awarded to AECOM Technical Services and is pending state legislative approval. AECOM has been tasked with developing strategies to ensure device interoperability, proper data management and effective government-industry partnerships. The goal of this exercise is to make sure that all of the technology developments that go into creating autonomous vehicles can be implemented on standardized technology platforms that will enable an autonomous vehicle to traverse the entire state without problems.

To understand the magnitude of an endeavor like this, you must understand how the typical IoT or “smart” project is developed. Typically, governments develop ideas and pilots in a vacuum, each embarking on their own “from scratch” initiative. Each initiative requires the development of infrastructure and networking, selection of devices, deployment of technology, and collection of data and analysis. For governments like the City of Columbus, this doesn’t present an insurmountable task as many of the necessary pieces already exist. However, where this becomes a barrier is at smaller local governments who don’t have the staff, resources or funding to plan and implement each of those steps.

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How you can help cash-strapped states get funding

Rachel EckertSLED, funding grantsBy Rachel Eckert, consultant

Budgets are tight for state and local governments and education (SLED) and there is no relief in sight.

An expanding list of priorities and mandates are competing for funds that don’t seem to be growing at the same rate. With efforts focused on legacy application migration or other mammoth projects, where does SLED find the funds for new and innovative technology? Grants.

Grants and federal assistance can provide those funds to explore new and innovative technology and programs like the internet of things (IoT) and autonomous vehicles. They also provide funds to address major challenges like the opioid crisis. State and local governments and educational institutions can apply for funding that can help to continue efforts to drive innovation in government. And for industry, this means that tight budgets don’t have to push your deals.

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3 ways to be part of smart transportation

Rachel Eckert Rachel Eckert, SLED consultant

Transportation is increasingly becoming more connected as part of ongoing smart cities/states initiatives. States are connecting transit and working on multi-modal systems to facilitate easier and quicker commutes that efficiently move people and goods throughout a region.

This requires a great deal of data, compelling state and local governments to look to the private sector to develop technology that can collect, store, analyze and visualize that data. This information can then be turned into things like mobile applications that allow users to purchase tickets for buses and other transit through one streamlined application.

Here are three ways state and local governments could be utilizing this data:

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What you need to do to sell IoT security to state and local

Lloyd McCoy Jr.IoT, cybersecurity, SLEDBy Lloyd McCoy Jr., DOD manager

State and local governments are becoming more proactive in their approach to IT and cybersecurity, together spending more than the federal government. They will invest $101.3 billion on IT this year, with counties and states increasing their budget by about 1.5 percent annually, according to e.Republic.

It’s safe to say a good portion of their budgets will be spent on cybersecurity, a push triggered by the internet of things (IoT) and how it’s being used for smart cities projects. State IT executives are more aware of IoT cybersecurity implications than at the federal level because they’re dealing with certain functions only at the municipal level like industrial systems and facilities HVAC.

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How tech companies can step up after latest ransomware attack

Lloyd McCoy Jr.By Lloyd McCoy Jr., DOD manager

Most of us are still reeling from the turmoil brought on by the WannaCry malware last weekend. While most of you reading were not directly affected, the global scale of the ransomware attack cannot be ignored. Even though our federal, state and local governments were spared the brunt of the attacks, they are, by no means, immune to the dangers posed by ransomware.

Some sectors of government are more vulnerable than others and so the IT industry, particularly those companies specializing in anti-ransomware solutions, should be aware of these distinctions.

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