Philadelphia finds its own lane in smart-city initiatives
For cities like Philadelphia, smart city initiatives open doors. These smart city projects upgrade aging infrastructure, address inequity and promote innovation. But before they can deliver on benefits, experts say, cities often need to do some difficult foundational work.
Emily Yates, smart city director in Philadelphia, said that, to be successful, smart city initiatives require governance of data, among other things, and stronger collaboration among the participants.
Data Silos Plague Smart City Initiative Development
Smart cities usher in rich data from projects such as trash collection and public transportation planning – but the data can’t offer full value if it’s is trapped in silos and sequestered in departments. Many cities see the need to break down these walls so departments can better access data and even work collaboratively on projects.
“I’m working to break down interdepartmental silos,” Yates said. “We want to understand how departments are collecting data, and better share data among departments.”
Yates hopes to combine automatic vehicle location (AVL) data with location data from buses, for example, to prevent trash pickup from disrupting commuter schedules. She has explored how to connect the dots on such siloed city efforts so that projects can amplify departmental efforts rather than work at cross-purposes.
“Can we take our AVL data on trash trucks and overlay it with transportation data so trash collection doesn’t happen during key commuting times?” Yates said. “We are starting to have conversations about how to combine these sources.”
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