Cities enact smart technology initiatives

Smart devices, from phones to shoes to shopping carts, have become ubiquitous in modern society, inspiring some entrepreneurs and governments to think bigger about the role such technology can play in shaping the communities of the future. New proposals for smart cities are arising in Saudi Arabia and India, and they’re now gaining momentum across the U.S. as well.


Bill Gates has purchased nearly 25,000 acres of land outside of Phoenix with the intention of building a smart city with approximately 80,000 homes. Along with residential property, land has been set aside for industrial, office, and retail space, as well as 470 acres for public schools. The city will offer technology innovations in the form of high-speed networks, data centers, autonomous vehicles, and more. Almost a quarter of Trendsetters believe that wealthy people such as Bill Gates can make the biggest positive impact on the world.


Major startup hubs like Silicon Valley are experiencing competition from new regions; Paris opened a tech incubator, and cities in middle America are embracing the entrepreneurial spirit, too. The startup scene in Columbus is growing, and the capital of Ohio recently won a $50 million “smart city” grant from the federal Transportation Department, triumphing over bigger cities including San Francisco and Austin. This funding will go toward a public-private partnership to develop technology to manage self-driving car traffic in the city.


Pittsburgh and the state Department of Transportation are investing $30 million to create a smart traffic signal system in the city. The system will be installed at 126 intersections throughout eight neighborhoods; it will monitor current traffic conditions and adjust the signals accordingly rather than rely on the standard time-set cycles that stay the same regardless of traffic volume. The system will also monitor pedestrian and bicycle traffic to improve safety. Though the proposal did not win the DoT’s Smart Cities Challenge grant, it is receiving some funding from the department.