In California, officials in the City of San Leandro are making big changes—and counting on high-speed networking and the IoT—to convert their town from being just another San Francisco Bay Area suburb to a connected smart city. Officials have adamantly made it a priority to use IoT technology to become a smart city, one that connects the community to informative data, makes tech-centric improvements to existing regional infrastructure and increases the percentage of citywide use of renewable energy.
Fast Fiber Loop
One of the most recent mechanisms employed by the City of San Leandro is the construction of a high-speed fiber loop within the city’s existing urban infrastructure. Beginning in 2012 as the Lit San Leandro project, the plan is to construct a 20-mile commercial fiber optic ring that connects businesses and non-profits to the Internet at speeds up to 10 Gigabits per second. The loop will bridge together all accessible IoT-created data, so that information can be transferred to a server for government officials to analyze in the future.
San Leandro’s first IoT projects—automated LED streetlights and a remote-controlled irrigation system—are already installed and operational. The LED lights are predicted by local planners to save $8 million in the next 15 years and will reduce San Leandro’s dependence on nonrenewable energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from dirty power plants.
The gains from these two projects have led the city to pursue additional IoT projects and connect all its IoT data systems on a fiber loop. With this collection of big data gathered in one spot, officials can determine how to best apply information derived from the IoT sensors to better improve the livelihoods of, and resources for, the city’s 84,950 residents.
In a recent interview with Statescoop, San Leandro’s Chief Information Officer Debbie Acosta stated the necessity of addressing the intersection of smart city goals and IoT technology. “Smart city and IoT technologies are important, because they’re going to enable us to gather data about things we couldn’t know about in the past, which allows us to make better decisions.” The United States Economic Development Administration granted the city with $2.1 million to help fund the city’s fiber loop.
Sunny San Leandro
The implementation of smart city strategies in San Leandro isn’t particularly new. While the city itself has a thriving industrial and manufacturing business base, it is located between San Francisco and the Silicon Valley, so it is surrounded on all sides by companies on the leading edge of technology innovation.
San Leandro originally began the shift to smart technology with the installation of solar panels across the city. Ideally, the city could reach 100 percent renewable energy production and consumption as the cost of electricity has dramatically decreased in the last few years.
San Leandro city officials intend to continue the push toward complete dependence on renewable energy, and the plan is currently financially supported by a $1.5 million grant provided by the California Energy Commission (CEC). If city officials determine that this energy network plan continues to be successful, then the city is likely to receive an $8 million grant from the CEC.
A Bright Light in a Smart City
CIO Acosta is one of San Leandro’s biggest proponents of the city’s transition to a smart city. She stated in an interview with Smart Cities Week, that “smart city applications will provide the city with the right data, visualized for easy analysis, needed to make better decisions that improve the quality of life for our residents, businesses, visitors and the city organization. Our initiatives reflect that focus.”
Some specific examples of citywide initiatives include:
● A $5.2 million project to increase the efficiency of the city’s lighting systems by converting street lights to LED technology; all costs of the initiative are covered by energy savings.
● Partnerships among multiple public and private entities to create a scalable system for expanding renewable energy resources in San Leandro as well as dozens of other cities in California.
● A Fiber Optic Master Plan, also known as the Smart City Strategy, as part of San Leandro’s recently updated General Plan to accommodate and fulfill the needs of the city’s visitors, businesses, schools and residents.
Get Smart about Smart City Technology
To read more about San Leandro’s transition into a smart city, read the full interview with San Leandro CIO Acosta. Solution providers may also be interested in viewing the city’s Fiber Optic Master Plan and reviewing the specifications and usage plans. And finally, find out how to partner with the Lit San Leandro public-private partnership to create the fiber loop.