What makes San Diego so smart? National Geographic has thoughts on that

Fri, 2015-04-17 06:00 -- SCC Staff

A National Geographic series on smart cities will showcase San Diego in an hour-long documentary scheduled to start airing on the National Geographic Channel in 60 countries beginning April 25. A Times of San Diego report says the documentary "uncovers what makes this unique city one of the most innovative, forward-thinking cities across the globe."

The Smart Cities Council got a look at why San Diego is grabbing attention in the world spotlight when it held its quarterly Smart Cities Now forum there in December 2014. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer told forum participants that San Diego is notable on a lot of fronts – the number of startups and patents it produces, a sphere of cutting-edge companies like Council Lead Partner Qualcomm, bright people, educational institutions, etc.

The mayor also noted that San Diego has embraced change and a culture of innovation – rather than stagnation – at city hall.

Smart city, smart projects
San Diego leverages smart technologies in a variety of ways. Here are a few examples:

  • Smart street lighting: Watch this video to hearLorie Cosio-Azar, Project Officer for the city of San Diego Environmental Services Department, explain why Council Lead Partner GE's energy-efficient LED street lighting fixtures and wireless lighting controls will save her city more than $250,000 annually. 
  • UCSD microgrid: University of California at San Diego (UCSD) has a long history of self-reliance when it comes to energy. As this case study explains, the campus produces 92% of its own energy and is striving to go further with a combination of new clean energy resources, additional on-site generation and storage, and innovative demand-reduction strategies. The cornerstone of the effort is the Council Associate Partner OSIsoft's PI System, which gathers data from hundreds of sensors, serves as a universal translator that synchronizes and coordinates operations of the campus’ complex energy assets, and supports UCSD’s efforts to create a sustainable environment for learning and innovation.
  • Advanced tech at San Diego Airport: Watch this video excerpt from a demo highlighting the use of Esri's GeoEvent Processor, Operations Dashboard and Council Associate OSIsoft's PI Integrator for Esri ArcGIS at the San Diego Airport.
  • SD Emergency app: Known for its palm trees and sunny beaches, San Diego County is an image of paradise. But it is not immune to emergencies -- the most serious and recurring threat is wildfires. Learn how the county disseminates critical emergency information to a wider public using SD Emergency, a mobile app.
  • Hackathon promotes STEM: As part of its Women Enhancing Technology program that focuses on building the pipeline of girls interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, Qualcomm hosted a hackathon for 40 middle school girls – Qcampers -- inside the Thinkabit Lab on its San Diego corporate campus. They were paired with female college student mentors and the goal was to create mobile apps for social good.
  • Facial recognition software (for Rover): An animal shelter in San Diego created what they say is the first-ever initiative in the U.S. to use facial recognition software to unite pets with their owners.

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Submitted by Dave Olson on
If the City could only figure how to repair potholes, collect the trash, not break sewer & water pipes, solve the traffic congestion, and have a business culture that keeps companies here, then I might consider it a smart city. Otherwise the weather is great!