CARY – Town of Cary officials, leaders in smart city development and corporate partners gathered last week at SAS headquarters for Cary’s Smart Readiness Workshop, hosted by the Smart Cities Council. Earlier this year, the Council chose Cary as one of five recipients of its 2018 Readiness Challenge Grant.

At the time of the grant award, the Council cited the Town’s smart parking, mobility and street lighting, as well as its efforts to create opportunities in underserved neighborhoods to encourage jobs and housing.

As part of the grant award, the Town will receive the Council’s expertise and access to mentors, products and services to help them speed up their efforts. The first grant benefit: a workshop that will result in a strategic roadmap that will guide Cary’s future smart city development.

Jennifer James

Jennifer James, Smart Cities Council’s Global Readiness Director, led the workshop.

“The workshop brings experts together to get to implementable solutions, tools and resources to move cities forward more quickly,” said James.

Cary’s Simulated City

Cary’s strategy for smart city implementation focuses on a 360-degree view.

“The 360- degree vision for the community puts people at the center,” said James “Even though there is a lot of technology, it comes back to the citizen. How do you help them do things better?”

The Town of Cary currently collects data in areas ranging from traffic signal activity to water consumption. The trick now, say Town officials, is putting all of this data together to help drive economic development.

Terry Yates

To gain a better understanding of the data it receives and how it can be used, the Town created what Cary’s Terry Yates, smart cities manager, calls a “simulated city.”

“We have Smart Cities solutions,” said Yates. “Our traffic management system runs fiber to all of our traffic signals. All of these things are great, but they currently exist in silos.”

Using the infrastructure and data generated at the Town Hall complex, the City can begin to understand how it can connect the data and technology it currently has in place while identifying other technology and infrastructure needs.

Building the Town’s Smart City roadmap

“One challenge we have is understanding how all of the smart city technologies work together,” said Yates, “How do you tie it all together to get to that one holistic system? How do you connect systems directly to each other? How do you format data? How do you share it to different systems and platforms?”

These questions drove the workshop, which focused on improving the transportation and mobility systems, wastewater collection and sewer system overflow and integration of existing and new information technology systems.

From here, Smart Cities Council will help Cary develop its roadmap for the future.

In addition to Smart Cities Council members and Town of Cary officials and city council members, other participants included workshop participants from SAS, Sensus, Qualcomm and Wake County Emergency Management.