Photo credit: Urbanova
Urbanova's smart city living lab has had an enviable roster of collaborators in its efforts to advance smarter cities: the city of Spokane, electric utility Avista, construction engineering firm McKinstry, Council Global Lead Partner Itron, Washington State University and others. In recent months it has added Council Lead Partner Verizon and management consulting company Gallup to support and expand its current projects, initiate new ones and greatly enhance citizen engagement in research and planning. Urbanova's projects, strategies and goals qualify the initiative as one other cities would do well to follow, and learn from. — Doug Peeples
Urbanova's expanded mission remains focused on improving the quality of life for Spokane's citizens and establishing the city's role as a smart cities leader.
Its continuing projects include a continuing connected street light pilot to improve public safety, reduce energy costs and monitor air quality, environment-related health research, electric grid resilience and more.
What's to come
With new partner Verizon on board, Urbanova will enhance its focus on smart community solutions that reinforce and expand its work in public safety and include traffic congestion and parking in the city's University District.
Verizon already provides network service to Spokane so it's no stranger to the city. As Mayor David Condon noted, "Verizon already knows our community as one of our major service providers. Now, they will share their expertise around new technology applications and data delivery as our community seeks out advanced ways to serve Spokane's citizens into the future. That is another step forward as we seek solutions that lead to healthier citizens, safer neighborhoods, smarter infrastructure and a more sustainable environment."
Its partnership with the city and Urbanova is expected to increase private sector investment and community and educational services as well as provide smart street light, smart parking and smart safety solutions, according to Verizon.
Engagement platforms to give citizens a voice
Gallup's role will be to work with Urbanova to create, test and implement smart city initiatives based on behavioral, attitudinal and emotional information that was previously unavailable, Urbanova said in its announcement of the partnership. They also will recruit citizens to serve on a panel which as the announcement explained "…will serve as both a research tool and a form of continuous citizen engagement, allowing members to share concerns, ideas and express preferences on issues and priorities that impact the neighborhood and city in which they live."
The intent is to ensure that the city is making the right choices about the pain points citizens experience, identify community priorities and evaluate how effective technology solutions will be in addressing them.
As Urbanova CEO Kim Zentz said, "This approach will enable Urbanova, our partners and stakeholders to make investments that are recognized for the tangible benefit to the local population." Gallup's head of its Global Cities Practice Justin Bibb added "This work represents an important next step in the Gallup-Urbanova partnership, resulting in a replicable, scalable and sustainable model for cities across the world."