Skip Descant

Staff Writer


Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Sacramento.

February 22, 2018

Georgia Launches Smart Cities Competition Grant Program

Four winning jurisdictions will receive grants to explore issues around mobility, equity and resilience.

February 21, 2018

Washington, D.C., Dips Its Toe into Self-Driving Cars

The city has issued an RFI to test autonomous vehicle technology on a single street that has quickly grown congested with traffic.

February 20, 2018

As Smart Projects Take Shape, Officials See Cleveland’s IoT Collaborative as a Regional Boon

With recently awarded grant funds in hand, the IoT Collaborative is taking aim at making the region smarter and more responsive with the help of two uniquely situated universities.

February 15, 2018

Car Ownership Puts a Dent in SoCal Transit Ridership

Transit ridership across the six-county Los Angeles metro region has been slipping since at least the last 15 years as more residents purchase cars. Experts think a mix of technology, public policy and planning could help the ridership numbers bounce back.

February 13, 2018

Arizona’s Long-Range Transportation Plan Emphasizes Safety, Modernization

Arizona's 25-year highway plan to focus on preservation, safety and modernization.

February 12, 2018

State and Local Governments Welcome Trump Infrastructure Plan, but Worry About Ability to Meet Funding Demands

The White House infrastructure plan would require significant local funding matches.

February 8, 2018

Second Year of Smart Cities Collaborative to Explore Mobility Projects

The intelligent use of rights-of-way is part of a collaborative effort to make cities of all sizes smarter.

February 6, 2018

Dallas Gives Green Light to New Transportation Management System

The city has signed an agreement with Ericsson to overhaul the communications backbone for its traffic signalling network.

February 2, 2018

Columbus Issues RFP for the Operating System to Run its Smart City Systems

The RFP is the first step for the city in finding a partner that can “design, build, test and implement” the “backbone” operating system.

February 2, 2018

Louisville Makes Final Round for Smart Cities Readiness Challenge Grant

The city joins eight other jurisdictions vying for five grants that will support better livability, workability and sustainability.

January 29, 2018

Baltimore Rolls Out Smart Trash Cans

The city will spend $15 million to deploy 4,000 sensor-equipped trash receptacles that will increase collection efficiency.

January 23, 2018

NIST Global City Teams Challenge to Focus on IoT Security in Smart Cities

Global City Teams Challenge participants will focus on smart city solutions to common urban issues, with a strong eye toward developing comprehensive security systems to safeguard those projects.

January 18, 2018

Cincinnati Building Fiber Ring, Pursuing Smart City Projects Downtown

Cincinnati is installing more than 20,000 feet of fiber communications in its central business district.

January 17, 2018

Washington’s ‘Living Laboratory’ to Build Out Its Sensor Network

Nine sensors are set to be deployed across the University District in Spokane, Wash., where researchers have been studying air quality in an urban setting.

January 12, 2018

Safety Advocates Say Not So Fast on Driverless Cars

A survey released by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety found widespread unease by drivers with regards to autonomous vehicles.

January 10, 2018

Iowa Flood Sensors Wade into Artificial Intelligence

Information from 250 sensors deployed across the state offers local leaders real-time flood forecasts via AI chat bots.

January 3, 2018

San Francisco Rolls Out Dynamic Parking Rate Model

San Francisco sets parking rates on its 28,000 meters based on the demand throughout the day — rising during peak times and falling during lulls.

January 2, 2018

Tech Enables Better On-Demand Services for Transit Agencies

Several transit agencies are experimenting with service ideas that will pick you up from home, much like a taxi or ride-share service.

December 21, 2017

2018: Year of the Bus Reboot?

Transit and private-sector officials are staking out bus transit system upgrades next year.

December 19, 2017

USC, Los Angeles IoT Consortium Takes Shape

The USC Marshall School of Business and Viterbi School of Engineering along with the city have formed the Intelligent Internet-of-Things Integrator, otherwise known as the I3 Consortium, in an effort to further collaboration related to IoT project testing and development.

December 15, 2017

Electric Buses Are Gradually Replacing Older Fossil Fuel Models

Albuquerque, N.M., launched its new bus-rapid-transit line with a battery-electric bus, joining a growing movement nationwide to replace diesel or natural gas buses with emissions-free varieties.

December 14, 2017

Military Veteran Takes Top Florida Information Security Job

Thomas Vaughn, who has served in the U.S. Army and Coast Guard, is the Florida Agency for State Technology's (AST) new chief information security officer.

December 12, 2017

Florida City Launches Autonomous Public Shuttle Pilot

Gainesville, Fla., has kicked off a three-year project allowing public access to free autonomous shuttles.

December 6, 2017

Indiana to Consider AV Testing Legislation

Indiana State Rep. Ed Soliday plans to file legislation in the next two weeks to propose a framework for testing autonomous vehicles in the state.

December 1, 2017

San Diego to Cover Half the City with Intelligent Streetlights

San Diego launches an ambitious $30 million smart city project to outfit 3,200 streetlights with sensors.

December 1, 2017

Next-Gen Cities: 3 Jurisdictions Get Smarter

From transportation to digital equity, connected communities like Albuquerque, Columbus and Las Vegas keep citizen needs at the forefront.

November 30, 2017

As Transportation Transforms, Cities Explore Equitable Mobility

Transit systems should continue to think creatively as they develop new systems to attract and retain riders, according to a new report from the National League of Cities.

November 29, 2017

Washington, D.C., CTO Archana Vemulapalli Announces Departure

After two years as chief technology officer in Washington, D.C., Archana Vemulapalli will return to the private sector.

November 28, 2017

Arizona Tech Towns Open to AV Testing on City Streets

Both Tempe and Chandler, Ariz., have become test beds for self-driving car technology.

November 27, 2017

Lexington, Ky., Set to Become a Gigabit City

Officials in Lexington, Ky. are finalizing plans with Internet and cable provider MetroNet to wire the city with high-speed fiber.

November 21, 2017

Are Electric-Hybrid Trucks the Answer to California Port Pollution Problem?

An eHighway test site in California has electric-hybrid trucks connecting to overhead power lines.

November 16, 2017

Cary, N.C., Tests Smart Technology in Its 'Living Lab' City Campus

Cary, N.C., is testing smart parking sensors and other technology on its city hall campus to see how they work on a small scale.

November 9, 2017

Are Ride-Shares and Gas Prices Behind Falling Transit Ridership?

Overall transit ridership in the United States has been in decline since 2014, due in large part to falling gas prices. But the increased use of ride-hailing apps, like Uber and Lyft, is also playing a part.

November 7, 2017

Smart Cities Council Accepting Applications for 2018 Challenge Grants

Five North American cities will be selected as Challenge Grant recipients by the Smart Cities Council, making them eligible for mentoring, products and services.

November 3, 2017

Philadelphia Builds ‘All-In-One’ Property Mapping Tool

A new Web-based property data search tool in Philadelphia will bring zoning, assessment value, 311 reports and more under one application.

November 1, 2017

Contra Costa County Partners with AAA to Boost AV Development

The county's transportation authority has announced an agreement with AAA and Toyota to test self-driving vehicles in California.

October 26, 2017

Public Transit Benefits When Buses, Riders Are Connected

Valley Regional Transit in Boise, Idaho, has taken steps to improve its communications infrastructure, which has led to more on-time arrivals and perks for riders.

October 20, 2017

Portland's Popular Bike Map Goes Digital

The new online version is interactive, alerting bikers to dangerous intersections and other features.

October 18, 2017

Washington, D.C.'s Bike-Sharing Goes Dockless and Electric

The nation's capital has become a test bed for the next-generation bike-sharing program, in which riders can find a bike to rent using an app and have it powered by an electric motor.

October 12, 2017

L.A. Has a Streetlight That Can Charge Your Car

A city streetlight pilot program is packing a lamp with technology to aid communications, as well as charging ports for phones and cars.

October 11, 2017

California Proposes Update to AV Testing Regulations

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has put forth new regulations that would allow for less restrictive testing and deployment of fully autonomous vehicles.

October 10, 2017

Denver South Sees Smart City Potential with Newly Formed Alliance

The Colorado Smart Cities Alliance aims to bolster technology industries and partnerships in the Denver metro region.

October 5, 2017

Sensor Network Boosts Efficiencies at Cincinnati International

The Cincinnati International Airport installed a network of sensors, software and other equipment to help reduce security wait times, and it's getting positive results.

October 4, 2017

Smart Cities Week Conference to Focus on Infrastructure

The Smart Cities Week conference runs through Oct. 5 in Washington D.C.

October 4, 2017

National Governors Association Forms Tech Division

Timothy Blute is heading up NGA Future, a new initiative by the National Governors Association to explore how technology can be used throughout state government.

October 3, 2017

Self-Driving Cars Raising Big Questions Around Drunk Driving, Seat Belts, Open Container Laws and More

Autonomous vehicle technology was a key topic of discussion at the 50th annual meeting of the Governors Highway Safety Association.

September 29, 2017

Atlanta Summit Raises Fresh Questions Around Smart Transit

The ConnectATL summit last week united elected, public and business officials discussing the future of transit, transportation and planning in the region.

September 18, 2017

Why Leading Smart Cities Are Often Bike-Friendly Cities

The International Cycling Safety Conference in Davis, Calif., will explore how data from vehicles, smart and connected devices or sensors and other objects in the urban landscape can work to serve the needs and safety of cyclists.

September 15, 2017

Smart Cities Strategic Plan Begins to Take Shape in Henderson, Nev.

City officials want to explore "smart cities" projects as a means of improving the overall quality of life, while trying to avoid technology for technology's sake.

September 12, 2017

Why Small and Mid-Size Municipalities Don't Fear Smart City Tech

Tech companies stress the notion that the market today is strong at the mid-size and small city levels.

September 8, 2017

Cities Across the Country to Host Electric-Car Events

National Drive Electric Week launches hundreds of events nationwide Sept. 9 to 17.

September 7, 2017

State and Local Officials Respond to Federal Self-Driving Car Legislation

New legislation related to self-driving cars will likely reaffirm the federal government's role in regulating the safety of autonomous vehicles.

September 6, 2017

Ready. Set. Go! Luxury Cars Count Down to Green Lights

Audi's Traffic Light Information system available in Las Vegas and other U.S. cities.

September 1, 2017

Autonomous Vehicle Technology Will Create Winners and Losers in Transport Industries

Nationwide, some 3.8 million workers filled jobs like trucking, delivery or taxi industries in 2015. And these jobs could be impacted by self-driving technology, according to a U.S. Commerce Department study.

August 29, 2017

Small Cities Go 'Smart' by Developing More Direct Relationships with Residents

A survey released earlier this year looks at how smart cities projects are developing in smaller jurisdictions nationwide.

August 23, 2017

Battery-Powered Electric Bus Route in Stockton, Calif., a National First

The San Joaquin Regional Transit District in California has launched the country's first battery-powered electric bus route.

August 22, 2017

More States Explore Truck-Platooning Technology and Regulations

States like New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and Nevada are all open to continuing research in truck-platooning.

August 21, 2017

Colorado DOT Launches Autonomous Vehicles to Improve Worker Safety

The Colorado Department of Transportation will use a self-driving Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle (AIPV), as a barrier to protect highway workers.

August 18, 2017

Smart City Competition Seeks Startups, Companies with Eye on Public Sector

The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) and the Smart City Works Actuator are seeking applications from entrepreneurs, startups and companies with emerging products that are designed to make cities smarter, more livable and more resilient.

August 16, 2017

Tampa Bay, Fla., Seeks Toll-Road Drivers to Volunteer for Its Connected Vehicle Study

The city is looking for 1,600 private vehicle volunteers for pilot program to measure safety features along the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway.

August 15, 2017

Car Crash Reporting Guidelines Prepare for Self-Driving Vehicles

The Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria's latest edition has new instructions for reporting the emerging sector of autonomous vehicles.

August 11, 2017

City, ISP to Learn from No-Cost Smart Project in Small Mississippi Jurisdiction

The hope is that the two-month test of smart city tech is successful and can be made available to other cities in the state.

August 10, 2017

4 Jurisdictions Craft Scalable Smart Solutions for Water Quality, Flooding, Air Pollution, Public Safety

Bellevue, Wash.; Portland, Ore.; Newport News, Va.; and Montgomery County, Md., use their Global City Teams Challenge grant awards from the National Institute of Standards and Technology to come up with smart tech systems that can be easily replicated.

August 8, 2017

Columbus, Ohio, to Launch Incentive Program for EV Charging Port Installation

Smart Columbus is getting serious about promoting electric vehicle use, starting with encouraging more charging locations.

August 7, 2017

Army of Air-Quality Sensors to Offer Lafayette, La., and Baltimore Glimpses of Ozone, Humidity Levels

The monitoring programs are part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Smart City Air Challenge — a 2016 competitive grant program that made $40,000 available to each community.

August 4, 2017

10 Cities Taking a Nature-Driven Approach to Innovation

Smart Cities Guru founder Anil Ahuja has compiled a list of the top U.S. cities — from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles — that have found a way to combine technology and nature.

August 2, 2017

How Kansas City, Mo., Is Snuffing Out Potholes Before They Appear

Public works and IT officials use traffic and other data to predict where the next pothole will form — allowing it to repair or resurface 35 to 45 miles of streets per year versus the previous 20 to 25 miles.

July 31, 2017

Smart City Tech Experts Gather in Kansas City for Annual Gigabit Summit

Third annual Gigabit City Summit is set to attract some 300 to 350 attendees ranging from public-sector CIOs, to entrepreneurs, to tech professionals in the private sector.

July 28, 2017

Montgomery County, Va., Pilots Smart Bullet-Proof Vests that Contact 911 When an Officer is Injured

The sheriff's department has attached sensors to its officers' body armor that alert command officials and emergency services if an officer in the field is injured.

February 1, 2017

Dallas Innovation Alliance Accelerates Smart City Projects

The Smart Cities Living Lab is a test bed for numerous smart technologies in downtown Dallas that has become a mecca for tourism and the arts.

January 4, 2017

Fast Track to Smart: State Approves 3 Vendors for Illinois Cities to Get Smarter Streetlights

Illinois signed a deal with three vendors to make streetlight purchases cheaper and easier for local governments.