5 cities, 5 smart ideas: Detroit, Schenectady, SF, Westminster, Dubai

Wed, 2015-10-28 06:00 -- Liz Enbysk

Scroll down for our latest installment of five cities doing smart things. And if you'd like to nominate your city's smart idea, there's a link at the bottom of the article.

10,000 problems fixed in six months, thanks to Improve Detroit app
In its first six months, the Improve Detroit smartphone app was downloaded more than 6,500 times and more than 10,000 complaints made via the app have been closed, according to a post on the city website. What's getting fixed? The city says more than 3,000 illegal dumping sites have been cleaned up, 2,092 potholes repaired and  991 complaints resolved related to running water in an abandoned structure. And there's more that you can read about here. "The Improve Detroit app has ushered in a new era of customer service and accountability in city government," Mayor Mike Duggan said. "It’s never been easier for Detroiters to get their voices heard and their complaints taken care of." (See Improve Detroit and hundreds more city apps in the Smart Cities Apps Gallery.)

Schenectady taps GE retiree brain power to get smarter
Could your city use some borrowed expertise to help chart its smart city course? Here's an idea worth considering. As part of Schenectady, New York's push to become more innovative, the Business Review reports that the city is tapping the brain power of GE retirees from Wise Labs, which according to the article connects experienced scientists and engineers to businesses and investors who can help them take their innovations to market. Wise Labs started last year as a way to leverage the brain power of the scientists and engineers retiring from GE Global Research in nearby Niskayuna. First up for the retirees will be to help Schenectady with Wi-Fi connected streetlights and cameras. GE is a Council Lead Partner.

SF pilot targeting transit-only lane encroachment gets green light
California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed legislation that turns San Francisco's pilot program that aims to unclog transit lanes into a permanent fixture in the city's effort to improve transportation. A Govtech.com article suggests that for the past six years the Transit-Only Lane Enforcement (TOLE) pilot has successfully helped battle double parking and stopping in transit lanes. It uses both cameras and staff to look for and cite rule breakers. Paul Rose, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which is a Council Advisor, said in the Govtech piece that the citation program is responsible for as much as a 20% reduction in travel time for the more than half-a-million daily riders.

Veolia refuse team in Westminster creates children's book on recycling
Patrick Guihen and Sandro Keningale, an uncle and nephew refuse team in Westminster, UK, wanted to do more to encourage recycling, so while out on their rounds they came up with the idea for a book to educate children about the importance of recycling. Between them the authors have more than 50 years of experience working for Council Associate Partner Veolia, so they know their subject well. The story – Munch and the Funny Tummy – has generated plenty of enthusiasm. Heather Acton, Westminster City Council cabinet member for sustainability, said in a CIWM Journal article: "It is amazing to see two of our hard-working refuse collectors pass on their front-line experience to children in such a creative and entertaining way. We have ambitious recycling targets here in Westminster, so our next generation is so important in helping us achieve that and making our city an even better place to live. I am sure that when story time arrives, there will be no match for Munch."

There's no doubt about open data in Dubai – it's the law
The new Dubai Open Data Law, the Gulf Times reports, makes it obligatory for all government departments to share their data with each other to unify all Dubai related data and provide unified and integrated services to the public. The law, announced by Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in his capacity as the Ruler of Dubai, will also make the data accessible to researchers, investors and service developers via an integrated platform. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and General Supervisor of Dubai Smart City, added that "The new law will unify Dubai data and remove the last legal obstacles for those interested in investing in the digital economy. It will also complete the legislative framework of Dubai Smart City." (Cities can find guidance on developing open data policies as Dubai has done in the Council's Smart Cities Open Data Guide.)

Share your city's smart ideas!  Send an email to news@smartcitiescouncil.com