Communities across the Denver metro region are joining forces to promote smart city technology.
Leaders from academia, industry and other sectors are coming together to not only grow entrepreneurial activity, but shape public policy in a direction that embraces 21st-century urban growth.
The recently formed Colorado Smart Cities Alliance brings together public and private leaders from 12 cities to grow and develop regional technological innovations. The alliance, organized by the 20,000-member Denver South Economic Development Partnership, is working with Arrow Electronics as lead technology adviser and the University of Colorado as lead academic partner and “formative Innovation District,” said Traci Hiltonberry, Denver South's director of innovation.
“Our mission is to work collaboratively to develop and share best practices to co-create many of the technological innovations that will come to define quality of urban life in the future,” said Hiltonberry. “To achieve this goal, Denver South will contribute to the alliance’s efforts to create a series of virtual ‘living laboratories’ across the state for collaborative design, development and testing of technologies aimed at providing tangible solutions to city, state and regional challenges.”
The Denver area has been a hotbed for innovative technologies and the living lab concept — the most notable of which is the Peña Station NEXT project, a smart city collaboration with ambitions of expanding past existing smart lighting and sensor technologies and into things like driverless shuttles.
Denver South began forming its innovation team — made up of Hiltonberry and Denver South Vice President of Innovation Jake Rishavy — in May 2016 because it wanted a dedicated effort to encourage an open and collaborative exchange of ideas to use technology in areas such as transportation, housing, public safety and the environment.
“We believe we are creating a first-of-its-kind statewide collaborative effort around smart city implementation and the creation of testbeds for proof of concept amongst multiple typographies,” Hiltonberry wrote in an email.
Denver South expects the population of Colorado to grow by more than 3 million residents by 2050, which is why they think it's important to find improved, cost-effective ways to use infrastructure and deploy public services. Smart city innovations and technology, say Denver South officials, are the way to do this.
“The Colorado Smart Cities Alliance is advancing policies and technologies that will better equip Colorado residents to live, work and play in a future that is increasingly being shaped by the complex challenges of urban growth,” said Rishavy in a statement. “We’re working to create a 21st-century technology infrastructure right here in Colorado that will help to enhance everyone’s quality of life, particularly as our communities continue to grow. With our citizen-centered approach to design and public policy, this alliance is going to put Colorado on the map as a smart cities leader.”