The Most Exciting Smart City Initiatives in the U.S.

Evelyn Long

Sep 10, 2020


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Smart cities in the U.S. are becoming more common every year. Technology helps experts and government officials all over the country make municipalities more efficient for residents and visitors alike. From public transportation to renewable energy, here are some of the most exciting smart city initiatives. 

Denver, Colorado

Denver is taking on several challenges in its path to becoming a smart city. It has created a vision of what community means and how technology can take it to the next level. The plan for Peña Station mixes infrastructure with transit and community needs. 

Based on the plans from Denver, Peña Station will work from a clean energy grid system. Right from the foundation, it will use sustainable technology to build its community. The station will be a place where residents can live, work, shop, eat and most importantly, do it all with efficient transportation. 

Connectivity is key here. Data and Internet of Things (IoT) devices will help people have a more efficient way of living. Wi-Fi-based lighting or electric vehicles are just two of the innovations available at Peña Station. 

New York, New York

New York City is paving the way, in each of its boroughs, for what it means to be a smart city. With millions of people to cater to in a dense space, the Big Apple has its work cut out. However, it’s still making significant progress.

For instance, its LinkNYC program seeks to provide people with fast and free Wi-Fi. It provides accessibility to those who may not have it. Similarly, the Citi Bike program provides transportation in hundreds of locations throughout the boroughs. It encourages people to use a bicycle instead of other forms of transportation, which reduces carbon emissions.

New York is also working on digital literacy. Part of the smart city plan is to provide more access to computers. In low-income or high-poverty neighborhoods, especially, this access creates room for more employment opportunities and connectivity. 

San Francisco, California

San Francisco is known for its trolleys. They act as a unique and efficient form of public transportation. Since the city already focuses on vehicles, this is the gateway to most of its smart city initiatives. 

Reducing travel time is a priority. Traffic causes congestion, which leads to a delay in travel times. In everyday life, this is only a minor inconvenience. In emergencies, traffic could be a more severe hindrance. Due to this dynamic, the city has started projects and research into things like smart traffic lights that fit the flow of cars and autonomous shuttles. 

With this focus on travel, the city set out some goals. One of the most important ones is San Francisco’s commitment to reduce low-income residents’ prices for public transportation by 10%. This city is an example of how a smart city should ultimately help its people.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Transportation is a recurring theme throughout each of these cities — and Pittsburgh is right there with the innovations, too. Autonomous vehicles and traffic patterns have been a key focus of the city. For instance, Pittsburgh implemented Surtrac software at numerous traffic lights, allowing traffic to flow more smoothly. It also reduced travel times by 25% and cut carbon emissions, too.

Elsewhere, Pittsburgh is looking into energy. Clean, renewable power is the most sustainable way forward, so it only makes sense that smart cities pursue it. Green energy leads to a cleaner environment and healthier citizens. 

The city has also laid out its visions for the future, which include better safety, increased mobility and more opportunities. Citizens benefit from each of these plans — which creates a smart, progressive way forward. 

Dallas, Texas

Dallas has taken a unique approach to become a smart city. Much of the plans and integrations operate through the Dallas Innovation Alliance (DIA) rather than from the government. This coalition seeks to intersect community and technology to yield the best results for everyone. 

Dallas is pursuing that integration in several ways. The coalition calculates each move to see how the new tech innovations will benefit all city residents. For instance, smart systems are a path to the future — which is why Dallas is working on things like parking and irrigation to keep the ecosystem moving efficiently. Plus, it all operates on an open-source data platform.

Like many cities, Dallas faces issues with infrastructure, resources and urban density. With more strides in the right technological direction, this smart city can conquer it all. 

Smart City Initiatives Across the U.S.

As these examples of smart cities in the U.S. show, it’s the people who ultimately benefit. Smart city initiatives are exciting because they work toward a better community. These cities are leading the way in integrating smart tech, providing a blueprint for the rest of the world to follow. That’s something that’s good for everyone.

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