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A Smart City Living Laboratory In Spokane

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We Stand For Energy is on the left coast looking at smart cities in states adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. The first stop is Spokane, a city with a population of around 210,000 and located in the eastern part of Washington State. It’s home to a number of universities, which makes the city attractive to innovators—and its smart city initiative is capitalizing on that talent.

The City of Spokane and partners Avista, Itron, McKinstry, the University District Development Association, and Washington State University (WSU) have created Urbanova—a smart city living lab to design cities of the future. Located in the 770-acre University District, adjacent to Spokane’s downtown core, Urbanova’s goal is to harness data to gain insights, empower people, and solve urban challenges in new ways.

Urbanova’s first project is to install energy-efficient, networked streetlights that also will monitor air quality. Urbanova also is working on pioneering a shared energy economy pilot project. Through this project, a resident’s private solar panels would be connected to a smart meter. The meter could then determine when to send excess energy to the grid or to use excess energy to charge batteries. Urbanova will eventually grow to include energy-smart building control systems that will enable greater energy savings.

Data and research from this smart city lab will be analyzed by Urbanova’s university partners. Information gleaned from the research will guide future efforts to enable healthier citizens, safer neighborhoods, smarter infrastructure, a more sustainable environment, and a stronger economy.

Spokane’s collaborative efforts to establish Urbanova will allow the city to road test smart city initiatives that will make city systems and infrastructure work better and be more responsive to the needs of residents. This will mean a safer, healthier, and more efficient city of the future.