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A Different Kind of Smart City Project Revs Up in Lima, Ohio

When most people say "smart city," they're talking about self-driving cars and sensors that detect crime. When Lima, Ohio, uses the term, they mean modernizing old systems that are holding them back.

(TNS) — The city of Lima, Ohio’s Smart Cities Initiative will be getting a more comprehensive overview in City Council’s Finance Committee to gauge both past and future expenses involved in the project.

Lima City Council approved a $457,000 contract involving the program Monday night. The contract with Utility Metering Solutions will update the city’s case management systems and normalize case and incident reports in order to ensure accuracy when sharing files between Lima Municipal Court and its safety services department.

While Councilor Sam McLean expressed his support of the contract, he also asked that council forward the initiative to its finance committee for a review of the initiative’s costs to the city.

As for the history of the Smart City Initiative, Chief of Staff Sharetta Smith said the city first ran into technological problems in 2016 when it first began to consider incorporating geographic information systems, which allows data mapping, into the city’s data framework. Upon further research, however, the city identified a problem with the task.

“We found out we don’t have the infrastructure to support GIS,” Smith said.

The city hired UMS to review the issue, and the outside consultant soon found extensive problems. The city of Lima was using 56 separate software systems and encouraging many manual tasks that could be automated.

To reverse the problem, Smith said the city undertook the Smart City Initiative.

“It really was about how do we get all of our systems working together, so we can better share information,” Smith said.

Part of the issue in recent discussions concerning Lima’s Smart City Initiative, Smith said, is that the original goal of the project has been confused with how other cities are using the phrase “smart cities," which has become somewhat synonymous with autonomous vehicle testing projects undertaken by major metropolitans.

Lima’s initiative, however, focuses on two priorities — case and incident management and work order management.

Either way, McLean said it would be helpful to review the financial side of the project.

“I would like to send the Smart City Initiative to the finance committee. We need to get caught up with what we have spent in the past and what we might spend in the future,” McLean said.

©2019 The Lima News (Lima, Ohio). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.