The making of a smart city: No. 9 #dctech trend of 2016 - Technical.ly DC

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Dec. 27, 2016 11:25 am

The making of a smart city: No. 9 #dctech trend of 2016

Smart benches and trash cans and free wifi, oh my!

Chuck Robbins, Archana Vemulapalli and Mayor Muriel Bowser at the "Lighthouse City" announcement.

(Photo via Twitter)

As the year draws to a close we’re looking back at all that has happened in #dctech — this post is part of our 2016 year in review series. See the full list here.


It all started (well, for 2016 at least) with free wifi.

In February, local investor and entrepreneur Ted Leonsis took a hard line on the need for free, municipal internet access. New York is “kicking our collective butt” with LinkNYC, he said, perhaps hoping to evince jealousy or at least a bit of a competitive spirit.

But smart cities initiatives in D.C. went beyond connectivity, too. 2016 was also the year in which the District installed two wifi-connected Soofa benches (in Columbia Heights and Eastern Market) as part of a pilot program. The city also announced smarter trash cans bound for Chinatown and Anacostia. And in Dupont Circle, a new section of sidewalk is helping to generate electricity to run LED lights in the park at night. When D.C. and San Francisco became the anchor cities for a new “Council of Global City CIOs,” sharing information on smart cities practices was one of the primary stated objectives of that Council.

And if a public-private partnership between D.C. and Cisco is to be believed, 2017 should bring more experimentation in the area of smart cities technology. In October the District became Cisco’s first U.S.-based “Lighthouse City” — a distinction that means our city, along with cities like Barcelona and Jaipur, will be a partner for testing out new developments.

Maybe we’ll be able to challenge New York — specifically Brooklyn, which has seen a lot of movement in this field— on the smart cities angle after all.

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Tajha Chappellet-Lanier

Tajha Chappellet-Lanier is the lead reporter for Technical.ly DC. The California native previously worked for NPR and the editorial board at USA Today. She can talk travel plans all day, and has strong opinions on the best doughnut in D.C.

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