As new discoveries emerge and simplify our lives, human beings stop pushing the boundaries once their needs have been fulfilled. Take the light bulb for instance. Whether in the home or on the street, there is no denying the impact this device has had on life as we know it. But we have only recently begun to innovate beyond the place Davy, Swan, and Edison left us. The same can be said for other subtle, yet revolutionary innovations such as the waste bin, park bench, or even a parking spot. With the help of smart people, and even smarter solutions, Cisco is helping cities and communities leverage traditional assets to provide better services to their residents.

Lighting & Parking

Consider an ordinary evening in which you’re en route to a visit a friend. You turn onto their street and of course, there’s no place to park. You circle around the block a few times until you finally come across a car leaving their occupied spot – luckily for you, the road was empty as you darted over two lanes to get the space.

After you park, you walk two brightly-lit street blocks until arriving at your friend’s house. And of course you spend the first five minutes complaining about how terrible parking is in their neighborhood. Sounds normal, right? Let’s look at real cases, in real cities that suffer this fate. In Paris, residents spend around 3-4 years in their lifetime searching for parking. For the hypothetical situation I just described and for the very real drivers in Paris, this is simply not good enough.

We at Cisco are working toward redefining “normal”. Our Smart+Connected Digital Platform enables public and private organizations alike to use citywide parking data to develop apps that can alert drivers of available parking spaces, allow them to reserve spaces in advance, and ensure the payment is made securely. There is no need to waste time, energy, nor gas combing the streets looking for a parking space.

But what about those brightly lit streets? Along with city leaders around the world, we want to help people feel safer, and to do so in a more cost-effective manner.

Today, street lighting is one of the largest cost centers that a city shoulders, taking a considerable slice of the dwindling budget. With the Smart+Connected Digital Platform and our smart lighting solution, we can help city leaders proactively manage energy usage and light output based on actual day-to-day needs. So thinking back to that same scenario described above, the streetlights would have been illuminated to light the way to your friend’s house and then dimmed to an energy-saving level until another person or vehicle was near. This kind of capability enables cities and communities to save money while simultaneously keeping streets and people safe.

Waste Management

That’s right, I said waste management, like trash bins. Not the coolest or sexiest topic to discuss, but important nonetheless. As a resident walking the streets of your community, it’s difficult to feel a sense of pride when you see trash and waste strewn about. This is even more so true for tourists with access to Yelp – cities ultimately pay the price via digital feedback.

How then can cities maintain cleanliness and support public waste services without draining time and resources that they don’t really have? With the Smart+Connected Digital Platform, cities and communities can leverage sensor technology to inform drivers when bins reach capacity, where they’re located, and allow city officials to redirect collection services on a need basis rather than at random. This can save time by avoiding unnecessary pickup for empty or barely full bins, and can save gas expenses and employee productivity.

Cities are like a living, breathing organism; they require change to survive and thrive. In a time where new challenges emerge everyday, technology innovations can help produce long lasting effects. There truly has never been a better time to build a smarter community. Find out more about how the Smart+Connected Digital Platform is changing city operations like never before, visit cs.co/digitalplatform.




Harold Bell

No Longer with Cisco