Cary, N.C., Tests Smart Technology in Its 'Living Lab' City Campus
Even in some of the most tech-friendly corners of the country, officials stress there’s no harm in starting small when it comes to trying out smart city ideas.

Cary, N.C. — nestled in the state’s much-lauded Research Triangle — is doing just that. The municipality is trying out smart city projects first at its “living lab” located in the city hall complex.

“When we started thinking about how to utilize these smart technologies, we really came to the decision that we should leverage our own campus as a lab, which allows us (to) test out the technologies and prove them out before we deploy them on a much larger scale,” said Nicole Raimundo, Cary's chief information officer. “So we want to make sure that we’re using taxpayer dollars in the best way that we can."

The living lab projects include a community center parking lot outfitted with sensors to tell city officials when a parking space is occupied and for how long. The data, which feeds into Cisco’s Kinetic for Cities platform, is analyzed so the city can deploy the appropriate kinds of parking, when it’s needed.

“We have handicap spots over there that we like to monitor,” Raimundo said. “It’s important for us to understand that utilization. And as it reaches that threshold we can then obviously go over and add temporary parking spaces, especially around the handicap parking space, to make sure that we are providing the best service possible to our citizens and that we are continuing to meet the needs, especially as our community ages."

The city is also equipping new streetlighting in the campus with sensors and other mechanisms to allow the lights to be studied and remotely controlled.

“We’ll be able to track exactly that energy usage. And we’ll also be able to control them … which is great because we have folks coming through that area all the time,” Raimundo said.

The Kinetic platform, which displays data on a dashboard through an assortment of graphics, makes that easier, aids the process.

“The platform is actually a tool for cities to use as they deploy smart cities solutions,” said Larry Payne, vice president of U.S. public sector sales for Cisco. “And there are multiple types of data inputs that are coming from different sensors and other devices. And so those sensors and devices, they all have different pieces of information that they’re transmitting and sending in."

Originally posted on GovTech here.