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Clark County, Nev., Adds a Smart Park to Its Technology Resume

The county, which is home to Las Vegas, has announced it will be working to deploy optical sensor technology in one of its popular parks as part of a pilot project to monitor occupancy and vehicle counting.

Sunset Park in Las Vegas, Nev.
Sunset Park in Las Vegas, Nev.
Image courtesy of Clark County, Nev.
Clark County, Nev., has teamed up with NTT Smart Solutions to deploy optical sensor technology in a popular Las Vegas park as part of a pilot program to monitor and improve the experience of visitors.

As smart city technology becomes more accessible and affordable, local governments nationwide are examining how this tech can improve residents’ daily lives. Thus far in the parks and recreation space, smart technology has been deployed to bringing parks to life with augmented reality and sharing usage trends, among other things.

This pilot project, first announced Jan. 6, will use optical sensor technology at Sunset Park in Las Vegas to gather data around two specific use cases: park occupancy and notification, and vehicle counting.

Clark County Deputy CIO Bob Leek said this park was chosen for its large size and diverse programming, as it hosts everything from sand volleyball courts and a splash pad to festivals and other special events.
The pilot program was initiated to deliver on the county’s smart technology initiatives, and ultimately, the goal is that the data collected will help the county make informed decisions to positively impact the community, Leek explained.

For example, the vehicle counting component of the project could help the county make decisions to redesign the park’s entry by improving bike access or even adding an extra traffic lane.

Where occupancy is concerned, county officials hope to get information about how people are using the park, which could help to make better decisions about the park amenities offered — from trails to barbecue pits.

“In information technology, our role here in the county is to support the direction that the departments would like to go,” said Leek. “We’re simply bringing some technology to bear to help them do that evaluation to really make their parks a great experience for the public.”

The pilot will use between two and four optical sensors, which essentially act as cameras that convert images of the surroundings into metadata, Bill Baver, NTT’s vice president of smart solutions, explained. A site survey was conducted to decide where within the park to place the technology for the most effective outcomes.

The data those sensors collect will be put into a dashboard to present visualizations of the information and predictive analysis.

Leek said he expects the dashboard’s users in this case to be the programming staff in the Department of Public Works and Parks and Recreation. The tool will be accessible on a browser, smartphone or other device.

Baver also noted the possibility of connecting the data to a public-facing website to simplify use and awareness of park amenities, giving the example of offering a graphic visualization to display the availability of barbecue pits.

Any data collected is owned by the county, Baver said, ensuring that the company’s role is to help move it around and underscoring that its use ultimately falls under the county’s data policies.

The dashboard is currently in the process of being designed, Leek said. The parts are being procured, and he estimates the project will be live in about two to three months and will run for four to six months.

Leek said the pilot will help the county to decide if this technology is something that would be beneficial to add to other parks in an expanded version of this program.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.