Smart City Chicago
Who will you meet?
Cities are innovating, companies are pivoting, and start-ups are growing. Like you, every urban practitioner has a remarkable story of insight and challenge from the past year.
Meet these peers and discuss the future of cities in the new Meeting of the Minds Executive Cohort Program. Replace boring virtual summits with facilitated, online, small-group discussions where you can make real connections with extraordinary, like-minded people.
I have traveled to Chicago over 40 times for business and family. I’ve enjoyed concerts in Millennium Park on warm summer evenings and dressed for the Antarctic on winter nights when the wind chill was minus 70. Chicago is one of our Top 10 Walkable Cities. With 2.7 million living in the city and 10 million in the region, the city has a long history of urban innovation from being the first city with skyscrapers to having the most green roofs to now leading in smart city technology.
Cities are enthusiastic about smart city technology, but also constrained by budgets, stakeholder conflicts, and evolving technology. Chicago’s best smart city initiative is the installation of 270,000 smart street lights that quickly pay for themselves by saving energy and in saving millions in maintenance.
Follow the Money
Of the 300 million streetlights in the world, few use efficient LED lighting and very few use the Internet of Things (IoT) that can leverage their value and create a path to smart cities. According to lighting provider Acuity, 12.5 million U.S. street lights are now LED. By 2026, 73 million are forecasted. Ninety-five percent of U.S. street lights use old-fashion dusk-to-dawn controls. Only one million U.S. street lights are smart-city enabled with IoT. Chicago’s Smart Lighting Project with 270,000 IoT-connected LED lights is a huge step forward.
Chicago may cut its annual energy cost for street lighting by 60 percent. Millions more will be saved by not using expensive trucks and labor to patrol streets looking for burned-out bulbs. Using the internet of things (IoT), the light poles will include sensors and wireless communication and communicate when an LED light needs replacing. To improve safety, the light poles will be integrated with the city’s 311 system, which provides a portal for access to city services. In the future, street lighting may also be integrated into the 911 system.
Argonne National Laboratory, headquartered in Chicago, is a partner in making some of the street lights much smarter. Fourteen-inch cylinders with multiple sensors and cameras will be attached to some poles. This will lead to data about everything from heat islands to asthma clusters. The project, named the Array of Things, has 500 installations including some street lights. In the future, the light poles could include other safety features like cameras, motion detection, recognition of people screaming for help, and gunshot detection sensors. Along with sensors and data that facilitate health and safety, comes the concern of lost privacy.
Chicago’s smart lighting project is facilitating an IoT platform for broad Smart City initiatives. In the future, some light poles could be upgraded to street kiosks.
Innovation and Technology
With sensors and IoT, added data can be collected at 270,000 points in the city. The city already has 600 data sets on its open data portal for planners and app partners. Rich in data, the city has the foundation for a smart city platform. With open data, the city is not going it alone with only its own money. A wealth of open data is leading to open source projects and strategic partnerships.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has stated that he wants to transform Chicago into “the most data-driven government in the world.” That means it must catch and pass the leadership of cities such as Barcelona, Copenhagen, London and Singapore.
Microsoft is a partner in City Digital. One pilot project uses sensors to test “green” ways to curtail urban flooding, and reduce pollution flowing into the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Another pilot uses sonar technology to produce virtual maps of the mess of cables and pipes beneath the city’s streets, potentially lowering maintenance and construction costs for many vendors. With rich data, analytics and machine learning can model where to best improve traffic flow, reduce flooding, improve water quality, and respond to health risks.
Rich in local data, with apps and web services, people can find stores, restaurants, and child care. They can map safe walks, bike-friendly rides, and park paths for winter cross-country skiing.
Smart city technology can dynamically adjust parking pricing to demand, allow people to find the best available and lowest cost parking, and give apps data to guide people to the least cost parking. Reduced driving and congestion result.
Chicago Transit Authority makes bus travel faster by using transit signal priority (TSP) on priority corridors. With TSP lights turn green sooner as buses approach and stay green until the bus has cleared the intersection. In the future, more sophisticated vehicle to grid and to vehicle to vehicle (V2X) will enable autonomous cars and shuttles to move faster and safer through the city, reducing congestion. These vehicles could be routed along rodes with inductive charging and parked remotely off-peak. Smart mobility will be dimension in making Chicago a smart city.
Like most other cities, Chicago needs faster broadband networks for V2X success. Broadband may come from Wi-Max or 5G networks. Fast networks with low-latency response are needed by all cities for full smart city implementations.
Smart City Forecast
Navigant forecasts that the global market for smart city solutions and services is expected to grow from $40 billion in 2017 to $98 billion in 2026. The report includes a number of smart-city use cases:
- Smart lighting
- Connected cities
- Smart parking
- Smart traffic lights
- Weather sensors
- Digital signage
- Acoustic sensors
- Water and gas metering
- Traffic monitoring and control
- Autonomous vehicles
- EV charging
- IP security cameras
- Air quality
- Waste collection
- Energy-efficient demand response
Chicago’s Smart Lighting Project with 270,000 IoT-connected LED lights is an excellent step forward in scope and in advancing smart-city data and IoT infrastructure. Chicago’s smart city progress will be advanced by projects that provide a fast return on investment, improve safety and health.
With smart lighting, IoT, and 600 data sets open-sourced, Chicago and its partners have a platform to keep extending Chicago’s Smart City leadership.
Leave your comment below, or reply to others.
Please note that this comment section is for thoughtful, on-topic discussions. Admin approval is required for all comments. Your comment may be edited if it contains grammatical errors. Low effort, self-promotional, or impolite comments will be deleted.
Read more from MeetingoftheMinds.org
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
Since the Great Recession of 2008, the housing wealth gap has expanded to include not just Black and Brown Americans, but younger White Americans as well. Millennials and Generation Z Whites are now joining their Black and Brown peers in facing untenable housing precarity and blocked access to wealth. With wages stuck at 1980 levels and housing prices at least double (in inflation adjusted terms) what they were 40 years ago, many younger Americans, most with college degrees, are giving up on buying a home and even struggle to rent apartments suitable for raising a family.
What makes it hard for policy people and citizens to accept this truth is that we have not seen this problem in a very long time. Back in the 1920s of course, but not really since then. But this is actually an old problem that has come back to haunt us; a problem first articulated by Adam Smith in the 1700s.
More than ever, urban transit services are in need of sustainable and affordable solutions to better serve all members of our diverse communities, not least among them, those that are traditionally car-dependent. New mobility technologies can be a potential resource for local transit agencies to augment multi-modal connectivity across existing transit infrastructures.
We envision a new decentralized and distributed model that provides multi-modal access through nimble and flexible multi-modal Transit Districts, rather than through traditional, centralized, and often too expensive Multi-modal Transit Hubs. Working in collaboration with existing agencies, new micro-mobility technologies could provide greater and seamless access to existing transit infrastructure, while maximizing the potential of the public realm, creating an experience that many could enjoy beyond just catching the next bus or finding a scooter. So how would we go about it?
Dedicated anti-trafficking actors across the nation are trying to build better systems in big jurisdictions like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, and in smaller but scrappy jurisdictions like Waco, Texas and Boaz, Alabama. They all share the same need, for stronger interconnectedness as an anti-trafficking field, and more collaboration.
The Forging Freedom Portal is a one-stop shop where a police officer planning a victim-centered operation can connect with their law enforcement counterparts, and the right service providers ahead of time, collaborating to make sure they’re planning for the language skills, social services, and legal support that victims may need. The portal is a place where the people who care most about ending human trafficking, who are doing the hard work every day on the ground, can learn from each other and share best practices to raise the collective standard of this work.