Pennsylvania Avenue

DC revs up smart-city project

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser on Oct. 20 announced phase two of PA2040, an initiative to place more smart-city technology along Pennsylvania Ave.

In the first phase, which began last year, the city installed Wi-Fi and smart street lights along parts of Pennsylvania Ave.

“I can talk to you a lot about street lights,” Bowser joked with a crowd at a press conference. “We’ve been talking about street lights for a long, long time.”

The lights will change brightness based on sensors that can tell when it gets dark or if there is a pedestrian nearby. Data collected by the lights, meanwhile, will be used to “create applications that will greatly improve district operations,” Bowser said. Currently, the street lights are being used only in a few blocks around Pennsylvania Ave, but she added that the goal is to replace all of the city’s 70,000 lights.

Phase two will extend additional smart-city technologies throughout the District. “We will expand services to include smart parking, public safety applications, environmental sensing, water management and interactive kiosks,” Bowser said.

Sensors in trash cans will notify D.C. Department of Public Works when cans are near capacity. The city can use data from this system to make more efficient routes for trash trucks, she said.

Smart parking systems, meanwhile, could cut down on the time drivers spend looking for a parking space, according to Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, who also spoke at the announcement. “So much of your time in a city is spent looking for a parking spot, and if we can reduce that it will cut down on traffic and make it more efficient,” he said.

D.C. was also named Cisco’s first “Lighthouse City” for smart-city initiatives. Robbins said the designation means Cisco will invest in innovation centers and STEM education in D.C. schools to “take advantage of the infrastructure that’s being built here and create job opportunities at the same time.”

The Golden Triangle Business Improvement District -- an economic development organization in D.C. --  also plans to use data collected by sensors in this project to improve local operations and focus.

“PA2040 is an exciting initiative to invest in new infrastructure and technology that is going to enhance the public’s experience not only here on Pennsylvania Ave.,” said Leona Agouridis, the group’s executive director, “but ultimately throughout the city.”

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a reporter/producer at GCN.

Before joining GCN, Leonard worked as a local reporter for The Smithfield Times in southeastern Virginia. In his time there he wrote about town council meetings, local crime and what to do if a beaver dam floods your back yard. Over the last few years, he has spent time at The Commonwealth Times, The Denver Post and WTVR-CBS 6. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received the faculty award for print and online journalism.

Leonard can be contacted at mleonard@gcn.com or follow him on Twitter @Matt_Lnrd.

Click here for previous articles by Leonard.


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