If you drive around the Town of Cary, there’s a good chance you won’t notice the technology that surrounds you.
“We want to make the technology so seamless (that) they really don’t know that’s it’s there,” said Nicole Raimundo, Cary’s Information Technology chief information officer.
Cary is one of the leaders in the country in the “Smart City” movement. Like your smart phone and smart home, it’s a way for municipalities to use technology to make life easier.
The town got a boost last year as one of five cities chosen for the Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge Grant. The grant did not provide any money, but it did provide town leaders with access to technology experts which helped to accelerate the process of moving Cary in the direction of becoming a smart city.
“The way we decided to do it was to turn our campus into a lab so that way we could learn and test different types of smart technology so we would be prepared for the future,” said Raimundo.
The town is currently testing technologies like a smart light which will dim at certain times a day to save energy while also maintaining enough light for safety. In the next few weeks, they plan to put sensors in many of the town’s bodies of water as a way to measure flood risk.
Cary also installed sensors in the parking spaces at the Herbert C. Young Community Center as a way to collect data to measure usage.
“It allows us to monitor how many spots are in use and for us, one of the big things, is the number of handicap spots,” Raimundo said.
Another part of the town’s plan includes traffic flow. Many of Cary’s major intersections include a live camera that transmits back to the technology department and alerts town leaders if there is an issue with one of the lights.
“It will automatically send out a work order to us, and we can start to redirect traffic.,” Raimundo said.
Cary has been on the front end of this trend for the past nine years. The town started with its water system, called Aquastar, which allows residents to track their water use and receive text messages if something is wrong.
“If you decided to go on vacation and you pull out of the driveway and you’ve left the hose running, we would see that anomaly, and we would call you to let you know,” Raimundo said.
The hope is that these technologies will collect useful data which will eventually lead to saving taxpayer money.
“So today we talk about a smart watch and a smart phone. Well in three years it’ll just be a phone and a watch, so we think about that in terms of our projects,” said Raimundo.