Imagine a city so connected that snowplow drivers know which of the busiest streets have the most snow and can clear them first. A city with sensors that dim street lights until there’s traffic, with traffic signals that respond to traffic patterns, with ultra-high-speed broadband connections for business to grow.
Imagine a city with smart sensors for air quality and for monitoring electric loads. Picture a city with microgrids that respond to neighborhood energy-usage patterns.
It could be the future for Colorado Springs, if the agenda for the city’s sustainability office gains traction with residents.
Mayor John Suthers is on board. He recently convened a task force to create a SmartCOS strategy, leveraging the city’s collaboration with Panasonic for the U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame’s technology.
The initiative goes hand-in-hand with efforts by the Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce to make Colorado Springs one of the U.S. Ignite SmartCities. The Ignite program brings high-speed internet solutions to education and businesses through a nonprofit group that focuses on cities across the nation. Ignite is still in its infancy here, but stands to be a game-changer in the way businesses access the Internet of Things.
It makes sense.
Look at Panasonic’s work in Denver, known as CityNow. By partnering with Denver and Xcel Energy, Panasonic is pushing the envelope on clean and sustainable energy solutions. Used in Colorado Springs, those solutions could lead the way to closing the Martin Drake coal-fired power plant far earlier than anticipated.
Panasonic is also working with the Colorado Department of Transportation to ease traffic jams on Interstate 70. Imagine knowing that a mile ahead, cars have turned on windshield wipers; that 10 cars ahead, cars are suddenly stopping. Connecting cars via smart technology could reduce traffic accidents, save lives and create smoother traffic flows.
Panasonic is also planning to test a driverless shuttle at its Peña Boulevard facility near the Denver International Airport. The shuttle will take light rail riders to their offices — about a 15-minute drive. Panasonic officials say they are working to solve the “first mile” and “last mile” issues with using public transportation — how to get to the station without using a car and how to get to the office from the light rail station.
In the Springs, work is now focused on the U.S. Olympic Museum — creating a one-of-a-kind interactive experience as part of the City for Champions initiative. But the city doesn’t plan to stop there. The goal is to use IoT to improve sustainability, reduce traffic and pollution, create jobs and lower crime.
It’s an ambitious goal, but the local economy will only benefit from a more connected, more sustainable city.