San Jose, Calif., Looks to Internet of Things to Reduce Traffic, Pollution

The city of San Jose and Intel have announced a Smart America partnership that will help the city discover how new sensor data can improve the community.

by / June 16, 2014

On June 11, Intel and the city of San Jose announced a six-month pilot in conjunction with the company’s Smart America program -- Intel’s move to show how the Internet of Things (IoT) can create jobs and new business opportunities, and enrich communities. The company already has started gathering new sensor data in San Jose, said CIO Vijay Sammeta, and in the following months, the city will discover how that data can improve the community.

Possible use cases of sensor data in San Jose include finding correlations between air pollution and traffic, improving traffic flow and parking, planning and monitoring bike travel, pushing out public notifications, and using air quality monitoring to inform urban growth, Sammeta said.

Just managing a city, which is a very complex organism, requires constant planning and execution, Sammeta said.

“One of the things about the data insights coming out of the Intel platform is it naturally integrates with our process, so […] the effort in managing the organism occurs constantly anyway," he added. "This is just a better way for us to refine and pinpoint and prioritize our investment in a manner that really speaks to the issue of what’s happening in our community. It’s focusing the lens on our community in such that we’re able to make better investments and better prioritization. I think of it as really augmenting or maturing a process that’s already there today.”

When asked about the city’s investment in the project, Sammeta explained that the city is providing its infrastructure and staff time. Intel Vice President Tom Steenman noted that investment in Internet of Things infrastructure, which is expected to top $41 trillion in the next 20 years, will help cities face common challenges.

Sammeta explained that San Jose’s population is projected to expand by 40 percent over the next 30 years, and the city’s interest in the Internet of Things is a belief that investment can bring 25,000 new “clean tech” jobs, while decreasing pollution, increasing citizen participation in government, reducing traffic congestion and delivering new services to citizens.

Exactly what insights and new services can come out of this pilot aren’t yet certain, Sammeta said, adding that the city is always discussing with Intel what that will look like in the future -- and officials are looking for meaningful insight.

“As we begin to bring air quality with other data sets like real-time traffic, weather and things like that, we start shading in and focusing in on a picture of what’s going on, and [we're] able to draw those insights," he said. "As far as what IoT represents for cities, I think if you have kids today, you should push data sciences on their forced curriculum for college, because I think that’s the job of the future.”

Colin Wood former staff writer

Colin wrote for Government Technology from 2010 through most of 2016.

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