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Smart Cities Strategic Plan Begins to Take Shape in Henderson, Nev.

City officials want to explore "smart cities" projects as a means of improving the overall quality of life, while trying to avoid technology for technology's sake.

Henderson, Nev., will use smart cities projects and concepts to help realize the city’s larger strategic vision in areas like transportation, education and overall quality of life.

With a general plan recently approved and in-hand, officials hope to create a more dynamic and targeted response to the real issues at play in their city. 

“We’re trying to take a very measured approach to smart cities,” said Henderson CIO Laura Fucci. “We want to make sure that whatever we do is solving a problem that we have, or moving us forward along our vision. We’re not just going out buying sensors and smart technology and putting it in just for the sake of smart technology.”

The city recently adopted its over-arching strategic vision, known as Henderson Strong, which lays out the road map for how the municipality will grow and develop in the next 20 years. The plan explores economic development, education, transportation, housing, health and other areas.

“As we start working on smart cities [projects] we want to tie it to Henderson Strong. That’s our vision,” said Fucci.

Officials in the city’s IT department are now involved in a thorough inventory of the numerous smart devices and systems already in place to get a clear understanding of existing assets and capabilities. Next, department heads will meet with other stakeholders, such as business leaders, educators and residents, in mid-October for a “visioning session” to establish priorities for a smart cities strategic plan, with the hopes of completing it by the end of the year.

“We see smart cities as one of the tools to help with the implementation of Henderson Strong,” said Fucci. “And then we’ll develop our strategic plan and road map for smart cities.”

For example, what is almost sure to land at the top of the list is transportation and outlining a larger strategic vision, which will require working closely with the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada

“We want to make sure that from a traffic perspective and a roadway perspective, we’re all working together,” said Fucci. “There’s still a lot of discussion going on, and we haven’t nailed down exactly what we’re going to do.”

The IT department will also explore how it might play a role in improving education and education outcomes in Henderson, since education is another key plank in the Henderson Strong plan.

“We want to do what we can do to help improve the outcomes from the schools,” Fucci said. 

Henderson, 16 miles outside of Las Vegas and with a 2014 population of 277,440, is the second-largest city in the state and is known for safety and quality of life. And Fucci said those are areas the smart city strategic plan will explore as well.

“We’re going to be looking at what we can do to further enhance those areas as well,” she said. “We see smart cities [projects] as more of the tool or enabler for the larger initiatives. It’s not the end-all-be-all. It’s not the goal. It’s that thing to help us reach our goals.”

Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Sacramento.
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