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Nation’s capital makes headway as a smart city

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Washington, D.C. launched its Smarter DC collaborative to align smart city projects, partners, and opportunities across all eight wards. By designing a program that explores how smart city technology can be used, the District will leverage intelligent city infrastructure, including connected devices, sensors, and data analytics, with the goal of improving quality of life for residents, enhancing economic growth, and addressing city challenges.

Smarter DC is deploying sensors that will provide data analytics to aid in improving city operations, economic planning efforts, and other ways of understanding and improving the city. For example, temperature data can be collected to produce heat mapping data analytics. Through the Urban Heat Island Mapping project, the District can identify concentrations of hard, dark surfaces such as rooftops and pavement that trap heat. This makes these areas measurably hotter than surrounding natural areas, which means more energy is required to cool buildings.

Capitalizing on the city’s status as an information and learning center, the Smarter DC initiative installed a solar- and wind-powered air monitoring station at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. The station, which comes in the form of an innovative park bench, was developed by the EPA as a unique way to provide zoo visitors the opportunity to understand more about air quality.

Another Smarter DC initiative involves “smart streetlights.” These are energy-efficient LED streetlights that do more than light the way for motorists—they also act as Wi-Fi hotspots and can alert the city when they are not working properly. In addition, the lights are equipped with energy usage meters, so over time and with more data, the city will be able to purchase energy in bulk, saving taxpayers money. Eighty of these new streetlights have already been deployed in the city as a “living lab” to see how they perform.

Smarter DC’s approach uses technology to solve existing problems, while improving the quality of life for both residents and visitors to the District. It’s a strategy that is working for our nation’s capital.