FutureStructure

Seeing Past Light Poles: Plotting a Smart City Strategy

San Leandro, Calif., is drafting a fiber-optic master plan — an effort sparked by an upgrade to LED streetlights.

by / May 25, 2017

PHOENIX — Can a city of 90,000 people be smart? San Leandro, Calif., just 20 miles from San Francisco, is poised to find out. And based on efforts so far, there's reason for optimism. 

The city is well positioned to capitalize on connected technologies because of its 28-mile fiber-optic loop that provides speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second. Developed through a unique public-private partnership between the city and a local software entrepreneur, Lit San Leandro now connects more than 250 businesses. 

At the Summit on Government Performance and Innovation, presented by Governing* in collaboration with Living Cities, Chief Innovation Officer Deborah Acosta explained that an LED streetlight upgrade has effectively made the case for a broader smart city strategy for San Leandro. The energy savings the city will reap will completely cover the project costs, making it a zero-risk endeavor. It's also prompting officials to ask questions about the technology's full potential.

"What should we be doing with our poles that will help our community move into the era of environmental health, of self-driving cars, of better living in cities?" Acosta asked. "We're on that journey right now to figure out what we can do with that." 

*Governing is a publication of e.Republic, Government Technology's parent company.

Noelle Knell Editor

Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.