As a metropolitan area, Indianapolis celebrates innovation each year with the annual running of the Indy 500, known as “the greatest spectacle in racing.” The event is as much science as entertainment and has served as a test bed over the past 100 years for new advances from introducing seat belts and front-wheel drive to engine efficiency and alternative fuels.
While the city still cherishes its racing history and has also become a popular destination for professional, collegiate and amateur sporting events, there’s a new designation on the horizon… Indy as a smart city.
Building on its innovation in the transportation sector, Indianapolis has been taking steps to implement electric vehicle infrastructure. It’s the home of Blue Indy, a fully electric, car sharing program that was launched in partnership with a French company and provides hundreds of vehicles at charging stations located all over the city. The city also operates dozens of plug-in cars in its own fleet and is working on the nation’s first electric bus rapid transit (e-BRT) line.
That type of forward thinking will be featured when city leaders head to Chicago for a smart cities symposium on January 25. A case study on “Accelerate Indy” will show how such new approaches to economic development connect talent and places… creating jobs and investment in the process.
But wait, as they say… there’s more.
Smart cities of the future will not only use data-driven solutions to improve their transportation systems, they will also integrate solutions for utility services like water and energy.
Indianapolis hosted a Water 2.0 event in November that addressed a number of innovative water solutions for operations and customer service. From improved water usage data to early leak detection and streamlined water quality testing, new software tools are being developed to improve the efficiency of water infrastructure. A $2 million EPA grant awarded this month to Purdue University will extend innovation from underground pipes into homes and buildings and study the impact of low-flow plumbing.
Just north of Indianapolis, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) manages delivery of power across the electric grid in 15 states and the Canadian province of Manitoba. From such large-scale smart systems to alternative energy generation, such as the solar farm at Indianapolis International Airport, there are ample opportunities to utilize smart energy plans to most effectively allocate resources.
In addition to the specific smart city tools for transportation, water and energy, there are also synergies that exist among the sectors. Smart metering technologies and analytics that can be used for both energy and water are examples. Likewise, electric vehicles that can recharge during off-peak hours can create smarter solutions for energy and transportation.
The common element in all smart systems is the use of data-driven tools that allow the flexibility to create adaptable solutions that meet the needs of city residents both now and in the future. These systems must also work to serve residents in an inclusive way that connects all neighborhoods and areas of the city.
Adopting steps in that direction will make Indianapolis a city to watch in 2017.
Erik Hromadka is the CEO of Global Water Technologies (OTC: GWTR) in Indianapolis, Indiana. He has been promoting the use of innovative new “smart water” technologies to improve efficiency and reduce water loss since 2010. He has been active in regional water cluster activities and working to bring some of the faster innovation of the tech sector into the water industry.
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