Smart City Innovations

Smart City Technology is All Around Us

Smart City Technology is surfacing all over the United States. To most of us, smart city is a broad term used to describe how technology will make things better in the future, but it is hard to come up with a quick example of how technology actually makes a city smarter.

Smart 50 Awards in partnership with Smart Cities Connect honors the 50 most transformative smart projects each year. Among 2020 award recipients are several projects that rely upon GPS tracking and telematics. With that in mind, we have picked three of the 50 award winning projects to share with and inspire our readers. The official summaries of those winning projects follow.

San Jose Smart City

Smart City San Jose, CA

Emergency Response Times Improved

San Jose transformed traditional emergency vehicle preemption through a multi-domain solution expanding Central Traffic Management, integrating real-time CAD, and connecting vehicle presence. The results: response times fell by 24 seconds per trip benefiting life and safety; reduced accidents for first responders; and over $1.5 million in higher reimbursements.

After failing to meet mandated response times, the City of San Jose sought methods to improve response times. Traditional means to improve response times was through the further deployment of emergency vehicle preemption hardware to allow emergency vehicles faster passage to their destinations. In late 2016, emergency vehicle preemption equipment had been deployed at approximately one-third (or 336) of the city’s signalized intersections. Because this system required hardware installation at each intersection signal, system expansion and ongoing maintenance was too costly– at a rate of approximately 15 intersections per year, and an average cost of $15,000 per intersection and total cost of $9 million.

The City of San Jose made the decision to take a new approach to providing emergency vehicle preemption that leverages existing infrastructure and software systems already in use and eliminating the need for costly new hardware installation and maintenance. Creating a solution that is geo-aware, route in advance, real-time, and fast to deploy protects the lives and safety of residents, protects first responders from high in-transit accident rates, and provides the City with significantly higher revenue in the form of reimbursements.

Response times fell by 24 seconds per trip, preserving life and safety for residents Pre-cleared intersections reduce accidents for first responders in transit -Meeting response thresholds enables over $1.5 million in higher reimbursements from County partners -Solution saves the community 90% of the cost of traditional emergency preemption.

Pittsburgh Smart City

Smart City Pittsburgh, PA

Trash Collection Improvements

Sensors embedded within Pittsburgh’s trash receptacles measure the fill level of each container and transmit that information to the people responsible for servicing them. Waste collection process is made more efficient by only picking up containers above a certain fill level (e.g. 80%), saving money, time, and reducing environmental impact.
The project improves the efficiency of the waste collection process by measuring and reporting the fill level of every container, and then dispatching the collectors to only the containers which actually require collection. Pittsburgh sought to remove inefficiency within their trash pickup operation while reducing their carbon footprint and promoting costs savings. With the Relay system, they were able to maintain an accurate inventory of the locations and fill levels of more than 1,300 smart containers throughout the city.

The data gave them confidence in the decision to consolidate all of their containers into a centralized litter division, and also to reduce the staff responsible solely for picking up trash from 25 crew members down to 9. The 16 additional staff members have time to work on other tasks, which had been de-prioritized with the focus on trash collection. By picking up only the containers reaching 75% or 90% full, the city is saving money on truck drivers, laborers, fuel costs, equipment costs, and depreciation costs from the reduced wear and tear on collection trucks. Drastically cutting the amount of time these trucks are on the road also dramatically reduces the city’s environmental impact.

Streets are cleaner (less litter), containers are no longer overflowing, heavy diesel trucks are taken off the road (reducing greenhouse gas emissions and traffic delays to nearby drivers), taxpayer dollars are not going towards unnecessary trash collection, deferred public works responsibilities can have freed-up resources refocused on them.
Washington DC Smart City

Smart City Washington DC

Public Transit Improvements

Luminator Technology Group (Luminator) and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) partnered to install digital displays across the metro area to provide passenger information, including real-time arrival and departure times. The agency improved rider information and gained operational efficiencies through centrally managed updates.
In an effort to further connect the Washington D.C. metro area to real-time information, this implementation across the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) service area resulted in increased and improved access to key route information, with WMATA seamlessly updating displays and real-time data from a single location. By eliminating the need to manually update paper signs, the project brought mutual benefits to riders and the agency. Riders have access to real-time information incorporating any delays or closures, meanwhile, WMATA has decreased labor costs associated with manual changes of paper signage. With Luminator’s involvement in WMATA’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), the transit agency is able to provide information that increases the intelligence and efficiency of the solution, making stations brighter and easier-to-navigate. Luminator is also increasing efficiency throughout the system enabling future expansion.
WMATA currently has 400 of Luminator’s digital passenger information systems installed across its service area and will add another 400 over the next five years. With Luminator’s support, WMATA is improving and advancing these displays to meet the needs of approximately 120 million annual bus riders.

Congratulations to the Smart 50 Award Winners.

We congratulate all of the winners and look forward to participating with our City and County Government clients to welcome the future with Smart City initiatives. To learn more about the Smart 50 Awards visit