Las Vegas (f11photo/

Las Vegas partners with Cisco on innovation district

If Amazon knows when you need toilet paper, then your city should know when your street light is out. That’s Michael Sherwood’s philosophy -- and as Las Vegas' director of technology and innovation, he thinks smart city technology will make that a reality.

Las Vegas’ push to become a smart city is about using data to make better decisions, Sherwood told GCN: “It's all about resource optimization and efficiency.”

The effort to bring sensor-based, internet-of-things technology to the city began before Sherwood joined the local government, he said. But it soon became clear it needed a way to manage the information that these projects would produce.

The city opted for  Cisco’s Smart+Connected Digital Platform that aggregates data from multiple data platforms and suppliers through its application programming interfaces, Cisco's Senior Vice President of U.S. Public Sector Larry Payne said.

This technology will play a big role in Las Vegas’ new innovation district, where it plans to test new transportation infrastructure and mobility technologies before rolling them out citywide. The platform, along with new sensing technologies, are currently in the pilot phase at 10 intersections, where it will track lighting, traffic, crowd measurement and environmental and waste management.

The new sensors can measure carbon emissions at intersections to determine when traffic is backing up and when to change signals. They can also count traffic -- both vehicles and pedestrians -- in near-real time, so the city doesn’t have to rely on hand counting as it has in the past. The city is also starting to look into dedicated short-range communications, which Sherwood said will play a pivotal role in the future of autonomous vehicles.

This platform is delivered as a cloud-based service charged on a per-sensor or per-device basis. It collects data from city systems and third-party devices then transmit it to the cloud where it is available through the APIs for third-party applications.

When a city is collecting this amount of data, securing it is critical. The Cisco platform has integrated the security necessary to protect it, Payne said. It uses OAuth 2.0 for authorization and an identity-based key management mechanism to protect data end-to-end across the system.

Payne said these technologies have big potential to make an impact on cities. “Las Vegas will have the ability to securely connect and share information between city agencies to deliver more efficient public services,” he said. “It means that when a citizen has an emergency that the response can be faster, the roads can be safer and the environment more sustainable.”

Las Vegas has already invested $500 million in smart infrastructure, having charted a course to become a smart city by 2025.

Editor's note: This article was changed July 6 to correct Larry Payne's title.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a former reporter for GCN.


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