Skip to main content

"Lighthouse City:" A brighter, smarter future for Washington, D.C.

Submitted by doug.peeples on October 28, 2016

Washington, D.C. officials have developed the strategies that will help them achieve their
long-term vision for a truly connected smart city. Now, working with Council Lead Partner Cisco, the district is taking the next step: building the framework that will enable it to provide a broad array of smart city applications and reduce costs as well. It's an ambitious undertaking—and possibly a source of ideas your city can use. — Doug Peeples

Washington, D.C. officials and Cisco recently completed a pilot project, Pennsylvania Avenue 2040 (PA 2040), that brought smart street lighting, sensors and a pubic gigabit Wi-Fi network to a three-block area near the White House, and reduced lighting energy costs by 50%.

The successful completion of the project means the district and Cisco are ready for the next step: to transform it into a "Lighthouse City," a phrase Cisco uses to describe cities that use several of the company's products and services. And the district will be Cisco's first Lighthouse City in the U.S.

"We live in a world today where technology is fundamentally at the heart of the strategy of every organization around the world — and it's not just the private sector," Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins was quoted as saying in Statescoop. "It's happening in cities and countries around the world. Isn't it appropriate that we choose our first Lighthouse City to be the nation's capital?"

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser explained the project would replace the district's 70,000 streetlights with sensor-equipped smart streetlights. "The resulting data will be used to create applications that can significantly improve district operations and reduce costs. PA 2040 creates a rich ecosystem supporting a wide range of smart city applications."

PA 2040 also will address public safety, smart parking, environmental sensors, water management and waste management. For example. sensors installed in waste containers will communicate with the Department of Public Works to let the agency know how full the containers are so it can manage pickup collection routes efficiently.

Cisco also plans to invest in innovation centers and to increase the number of its network education centers in the area to support startups and students.

Planning for a smart city transformation...
If your city is considering or committed to one or several smart city projects, the first thing you'll need is a plan, a roadmap to help ensure your efforts stay on track. Click on the Ideas to Action chapter to learn about why a roadmap is important, how to build one and more.

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.