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March 2, 2018

Coming Soon to a City Near You: The Internet of Things .

Coming Soon to a City Near You: The Internet of Things


CTIA Director Katie Den Boer
Katherine Den Boer
Director, Communications & Policy

Last week, CTIA’s Smart Cities Business & Technology Working Group met in San Diego to discuss the smart city landscape and learn from researchers and institutions that test, build, and employ smart technologies.

The discussions yielded three major takeaways that will be helpful to companies making smart city technologies and to communities looking to deploy them:

  1. Think macro, not just micro. For smart cities to be integrated, efficient ecosystems, innovators and city governments must think beyond specific Internet of Things offerings like smart public buses or energy grids. They must consider how these wireless-powered technologies will work with a city’s systems and infrastructure, as well as their interoperability with other IoT offerings.For instance, we heard from GE Current about their work with San Diego, installing intelligent nodes on 3,600 existing streetlight poles. These nodes employ sensors to monitor traffic, parking availability, sounds like breaking glass or gunshots, as well as environmental data.By leveraging existing infrastructure and putting in place a smart technology that has multiple functions, the city is in a position to save resources, reduce pollution, and make San Diego safer—all while reducing investment costs.
  2. Engage all stakeholders. Cities should bring their citizens along on the smart city journey to get buy-in and engage directly with municipal employees to change mindsets about how technology can be used. For example, San Diego’s Deputy Chief Operating Officer, David Graham, discussed how San Diego plans to source one third of its drinking water from renewable sources—including wastewater—by 2035, saving taxpayer money and protecting against the impact of droughts. The challenge: Not everyone was wild about the idea of drinking wastewater. So the city teamed up with Stone Brewing Company to create Full Circle Pale Ale using processed wastewater to show San Diegans that recycled water can taste good.
  3. Test, test, and test some more. Testing and certification programs are key to help validate and troubleshoot smart city technologies before they reach the marketplace and signal to communities that a device will work as advertised. Pilot programs also help work out the kinks for new smart city devices and create examples of how smart technologies can improve a city’s efficiency and provide a return on their investment. We saw the benefits of testing and pilot programs throughout our time in San Diego:
  • A visit to a SGS test lab in San Diego showed us how devices, including smart parking systems, energy meters, sensors, and more are tested and certified across various standards and requirements.
  • John Holmes from UCSD’s Office of Innovation and Commercialization discussed steps UCSD has taken to become a test bed for renewable and smart city technologies, creating an ecosystem that thrives on research and innovation.
  • GE and San Diego discussed how collaboration was key to setting up their smart lighting pilot, and that pilot programs in other cities are now following their example.

For more information about CTIA’s Smart Cities Business & Technology Working Group, please contact Christina Reilly at

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