Data Unlocks the Power of Infrastructure Investment and Sustainability

Almost a year ago today, Siemens spent two days in Columbia, the capital city of South Carolina, with a team of engaged leaders representing the public and private sectors. We had a clear goal: to develop a path for the city to achieve STAR certification, using data to drive sustainability.

The U.S.-based non-profit organization STAR Communities awards “stars” to cities for collecting more than 500 points of data and tracking their cities’ progress across key indicators over time. These indicators range from ambient noise and light to civic engagement to the strength of the local economy.

Over those two days, everyone, including the mayor of the city, the head of public works, the director of the municipal water utility, owners of local businesses, members of NGOs and the local community, pitched in to provide data and insights around comprehensive sustainability initiatives in the “The Real Southern Hotspot.” In just two days, the collaborative process resulted in Columbia going from no STARs to three – the first city in South Carolina to achieve this status. City leaders also decided their focus as they developed the City’s sustainability, adaptation and resilience programs: a resilience initiative focused on building stronger neighborhoods through promoting community interaction and measuring involvement.

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