Articles

South Bend, Ind.’s Young Mayor Embraces ‘Smart City’ Solutions

Sensors and data analytics are key to improving city management, according to Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

by Citiscope / October 2, 2015

South Bend, Ind., doesn’t exactly pop to mind when most people hear the words “smart cities.” Yet as David Morris reports for Fortune, the millennial mayor of this Rust Belt city in America’s Midwest sees sensors and Big Data as the future.

At 33, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the youngest U. S. mayor of a city over 100,000, the article says. When the White House recently unveiled a US$160 million initiative to jumpstart urban innovation, Buttigieg was there for the announcement. A partnership between the University of Notre Dame and South Bend is among the programs to receive funding.

Already, the mayor is harnessing technology to upgrade existing infrastructure. A smart sewer system with controls for regulating flows cost the city US$6 million but avoided a US$100 million overhaul, Morris writes. The mayor plans to use technology for goals that range from cleaning up a creek to identifying where homes may become vacant and abandoned.

Buttigieg touts South Bend’s small size as a plus. Cutting-edge technologies are easier to deploy there than in larger metros, he says. By testing innovations first in places such as South Bend, he says, deployments run more smoothly in much larger cities.