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Orlando Asks Consultants for Help Crafting Smart City Vision

The Florida city has issued an RFP to bring on a consultant to help the city develop an in-depth smart city roadmap and strategy.

The largest city in central Florida is moving forward with a clearer, more focused vision for its smart city efforts.

Orlando has issued an RFP to hire a consultant to develop a “comprehensive and strategic Smart City Master Plan and Roadmap,” according to the RFP.

“We are hopeful that part of this process — with the consultant — is going to help us define our vision and mission,” said Michael Hess, smart city project coordinator. “‘Smart city’ is a very broad term. So we’re really looking at this as the consultant helping us engage our local stakeholders and community and residents to help us determine what should smart city mean to us, what should our vision be, and what do we want to accomplish as a city under the definition of smart city.”

The initial timeframe for the consultant contract will be for five years. The roadmap document should contain an assessment of technology assets, recommendations related to IoT platforms, funding strategies security framework and more.

Orlando, a city covering more than 111 square miles with more than 280,000 residents and the largest and busiest airport in Florida, is not immune to smart city projects.

The city helped to create the Central Florida Autonomous Vehicle Partnership, an alliance of regional agencies and other organizations to explore the testing and development of self-driving car technology. It also has a network of infrastructure support like fiber-optic communications, though a better assessment of that backbone is one of the goals of the roadmap document.

“We have done a lot of projects that you could classify as smart city if you wanted to,” said Hess. “As part of this process, we’re going to go back and do an inventory of what have we done already? What kind of infrastructure do we have in place? And then, what are the issues we want to solve so that we can understand how do we build on that infrastructure to become the smartest city in the country?”

Part of the strategy development will also include opportunities to grow smart city projects on a regional scale.

“We mention that in our RFP,” remarked Hess. “We really want to think about how we collaborate regionally. Because a lot of our resiliency, mobility, a lot of those issues don’t care about the city boundary. And we need to think collectively as a region, on these issues. We’re already laying the groundwork — and we’ve done a lot of regional collaboration in the past.”

As part of this regional scope, the smart city strategy will explore technology and Internet of Things efforts in areas like transportation, resiliency — the region is subject to natural disasters like hurricanes — and equity, among other areas. 

“We’re going to be focused on the built environment. We’re going to be focused on our communications infrastructure. We’re going to be focused on digital services," Hess said. "So yeah, we’ve got a handful of priorities that we’ll be focused on in our smart city planning.” 

The deadline for proposals is July 3, 2019.

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 Yreka, Calif.