Before you launch a street light project, consider 5 success factors

What makes a smart cities project a success? Whether you’re trying to build a business case for an initiative or trying to articulate the impact of a project you’ve launched, that’s likely a question you’re asking yourself.

Successful projects have much in common. They deliver real results for the community for a reasonable investment. So how do you deliver that? Itron, a Council Global Lead Partner, has put together a helpful success checklist. Consider these five factors before you start work, and refer to them during implementation to ensure you remain on track. — Kevin Ebi


By Dan Evans, Senior Director Smart Cities and Smart Lighting

As with many of today’s technologies, the pace of IoT adoption and smart city initiatives is moving quickly, giving cities opportunities to modernize their infrastructure to improve energy efficiency, reduce costs, drive economic growth and protect citizen safety. By introducing devices and sensors connected seamlessly through an open standards-based, wireless network, cities can build resilient and resourceful communities.

Here are five core concepts to consider when crafting a smart city initiative:

1. Include citizens in the planning process. Engaging citizens in the process of planning smart city initiatives is critical to ensure they understand and support the benefits to the city and the people who live in and around it. A recent smart city consumer research study conducted by Power Over Energy and the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability Advanced Grid Research in conjunction with Itron, confirmed that the success of any smart city mission is firmly rooted in the citizens.

2. Build it once, use it for everything. City-wide networks must support multiple applications; it’s the most cost-effective approach. With an extensible standards-based network platform, a city can start with a priority use case such as LED street lighting or smart metering, while maintaining the flexibility to enable additional smart city applications in the future.

3. Embrace technology standards. Technology standards must be widely supported, formally ratified by a recognized body and include testing to achieve certification. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Wi-SUN® Alliance approach, along with established internet standards like IPv6, are well positioned to become the connectivity model for large-scale, outdoor wireless networks. This open standards-based approach helps cities maximize flexibility, encourage price competition and avoid vendor lock-in.

4. Nurture an environment of innovation. An open ecosystem allows innovation to flourish. Cities should be able to tap into the diverse communities of start-ups, academic institutions and established solution providers to increase efficiency and enhance quality of life. Cities can encourage home-grown innovation by providing access to a rich library development tools and reference resources to ideate and prototype new solutions.

5. Learn from other cities. Over the last few years smart cities have moved from concept to reality. Cities can learn from some of the early adopters, including the City of Lights. Paris upgraded its lighting fixtures with integrated smart street lighting and traffic signal controls to improve operational efficiencies and energy savings. In the U.S., Florida Power and Light implemented the world’s largest connected smart streetlight program. From large, investor owned utilities (ComEd, OG&E) to large and small municipal utilities (CPS, MID, SMUD) and international cities (Copenhagen, Bristol, Halifax and Providence), multi-purpose networks are forming the foundation for smart cities worldwide.

When cities engage citizens, chose the right foundational technology and learn from others, they can improve energy efficiency, reduce costs, drive economic growth, enhance citizen safety, and execute their vision for a smarter city.