“Smart City” brings to mind visions of grand, futuristic looking scenes: perhaps a moving sidewalk with a high-speed railway and crop of wind turbines turning in the scenery. But the reality is that smart cities are just cities that are adopting innovative, technology-driven solutions to improve the efficiency of their city; no moving sidewalks necessary. Here are 10 smart cities in the U.S. that are leading the pack.
10. Boulder, Colorado
A few years ago, Boulder was at the center of a scandal with Xcel Energy over its controversial and expensive smart energy grid—the first in the country. However, Xcel Energy has learned from its mistakes the first time around, and they released a new plan: Our Energy Future. The new plan will reincorporate the smart grid model, but with more sophisticated meters to give consumers a better sense of the prices they will be paying. In addition, the city has shown a strong commitment to fighting climate change and encouraging sustainability. Though they suffered a setback, Boulder seems to have rebounded on the path to becoming a smart city.
09. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Fighting a decreasing population, the city of Pittsburgh has proposals in place forreinventing its infrastructure. With IBM Smarter Cities®, they have worked on MOVEPGH, their transportation improvement plan, which will make the city more bike and pedestrian friendly. Pittsburgh also plans to revitalize the Almono steel site with a microgrid of solar and geothermal energy and make the city greener with LED streetlights and electric vehicle charging stations. Once an industrial powerhouse, Pittsburgh looks poised for a comeback through smart technology.
08. San Francisco, California
San Francisco has an innovative and creative atmosphere that has led to many new smart technologies being implemented in the city. From its many “green” initiatives to its smart parking system, San Francisco earns its reputation of being an avant-garde city.
07. Louisville, Kentucky
While many people may only know it as the host of the Kentucky Derby, Louisville, Kentucky has also distinguished itself as a leader in smart technology. Its initiatives include a data driven application for inhalers to reduce asthma risk and transportation efforts like a plan for a smart lane for connected vehicles. Like the other cities on this list, Louisville is using technology to look to the future.
06. Fresno, California
A three-hour drive from both San Francisco and Los Angeles, Fresno is a midsized city in central California with some innovative ideas about city planning. Some of its projects include the plan to implement a CitiStat model to share and track data and improve transportation through an adaptive intelligent transportation system. Fresno claims to be the best little city in the U.S.A., and its investments in smart technology go a long way in reaching its goals.
05. LaGrange, Georgia
With a population of about 30,000 people, LaGrange is showing the world that it’s not about size. LaGrange has gained international attention for offering free Internet access to its citizens via cable television. They also developed a smart grid system for their advanced broadband network. LaGrange’s impressive smart technology demonstrates the potential of even the smallest cities.
04. Columbus, Ohio
The winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Smart City Challenge in 2016, this mid-sized city has launched Smart Columbus, a citywide initiative that will focus on four main technologies: The Connected Columbus Transportation Networks (sensors and connected infrastructure), Integrated Data Exchange, Enhanced Human Services, and a Smart Grid program (supports electric vehicles). Beating out 77 other cities to win the USDOT grant, Columbus is definitely a city to watch.
03. Austin, Texas
A city on the rise, Austin’s city council has set its sights on becoming a smart city. On their dedicated smart city page on the website, they describe their transportation plans, which involves automated and connected vehicles, intelligent sensors, open data, and real-time traveler information. They have formed many regional partnerships, including with the Texas Department of Transportation, the University of Texas, and Austin Energy. Austin has the plans and the resources to achieve their ambitious goals.
02. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
The modest city of Cedar Rapids is making big waves in the world of smart cities. The city’s ideas for sustainability, health, and efficiency are outlined in the EnvisionCR plan released by the city leaders. While the city was devastated by floods and tornadoes in June of 2008, they have worked with FEMA, the EPA, and state and local partners to implement strategies for smart growth. Cedar Rapids has proven itself a forward-thinking city with a bright future.
01. New York City, New York
The Big Apple (link text to NYC Case Study article) is leading by example. Ranked the 2nd leading smart city globally, this smart city has already incorporated many transportation innovations, and Mayor Bloomberg has outlined many ambitious goals for the city to run more efficiently and sustainably in his PlaNYC 2030. With vision and drive, New York City is paving a path to the future.