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Nov 12

On Our Way to Becoming a “Smart City”

Posted on November 12, 2020 at 11:25 AM by Thomas Reeves

Modesto has already made headlines by being the first city in California to have grocery delivery robots, and now we are announcing a new initiative to further innovation in the City for those who live and work here.

An internal task force of key City staff members is creating a Smart City Strategy, which will detail specific ways for Modesto to improve various aspects of life through technology. It will maximize existing investments by identifying bottlenecks, revealing day-to-day pain points, and re-imagining data analysis.

A smart city uses information and communications technology to enhance its livability, workability, and sustainability by collecting data about itself and analyzing that data to anticipate the needs of the community. Believe it or not, we have already begun integrating data-driven decision making internally at City Hall, and now we are expanding that philosophy to the way in which we deliver services and operations to the community.

“Part of being a smart city is knowing a problem, analyzing data from the issue, and using that information with other departments to solve the problem together,” Charlie Haase, Chief Information Officer said.

Similar smart cities have seen an increase in public-private investment, which leads to greater innovation throughout the area at a low cost to taxpayers. With a ready infrastructure, the City is more likely to be the home of additional smart city initiatives resulting in future business and community growth.

Modesto has three areas of focus that will direct goals for the Smart City Strategy in future months: Efficiency, Data Culture, and Community Well-Being.

Efficiency
Efficiency is the backbone of innovation. By completing a deep inventory of City systems, identifying industry best practices, and leveraging opportunities to avoid duplicative programs, we will determine the most efficient practices to deliver quality services to the public. This step will be largely behind-the-scenes to establish a firm foundation for future updates.

Data Culture
Collecting data from around the city (like air and road quality, traffic, and housing availability) will allow us to better understand what is currently happening and what is most likely to happen in the future in order to make fully-informed decisions on future updates and developments. We aim to eliminate manual data entry, where possible, to maximize staff time and the integrity of the data.

Community Well-Being
A smart city engages the community to promote well-being, economic growth, and enhanced services. We are looking to improve two-way communication services and the integration of City systems with apps the public already uses. This will enhance current systems and attract private business. Residents and those who work here are encouraged to submit their innovative ideas to GoModesto.

An important aspect of this project is that it is not about investing large sums of money into new infrastructure; it’s about making our current infrastructure do more and last longer, for less.

In the next few months, staff will be finalizing the strategy to begin implementation in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2021. We’re looking forward to embarking on this journey, because we know that Modesto is a city that welcomes innovation, and we’ll rely on innovation to enrich the services we provide our community.