14 Award-Winning Smart Cities in North America Named

Through public voting, the IDC inaugural Smart City North America Awards named 14 cities, one state and one university for award-winning smart cities projects that showcase how technologically-enabled solutions improve public services.


The International Data Corporation (IDC), a worldwide provider of market analytics, launched the inaugural Smart City North America Awards (SCNAA) to recognize the progress North American municipalities have made to accelerate smart city developments.

“Smart Cities are, by definition, focused on using emerging technologies and innovation to make cities more livable, and offer new services and economic opportunities. The cities in North America have made significant strides in the Smart Cities arena leveraging technology and realigning with the needs and expectations of citizens and residents,” according to the IDC.

Whether its a streetlight, ADA ramp or larger public asset implementation, award-winning smart cities projects apply sensors, Web-enabled devices and other tech equipment to improve most areas of public service and community resilience. Whether its through GIS and other platforms, these award-winning smart cities projects enable cities (and other organizations) to protect and maintain public assets like sewers, reduce traffic and energy requirements, address crime more effectively, enhance digital access to drive workforce and education initiatives and improve government communication and public health efforts.

About the Contest and Nominees

The SCNAA competition was open for public voting and more than 3,000 votes were tallied.

Nominations were made in January, and 34 projects from 16 states were named finalists across 14 contest categories in March. The 16 winners (two categories were tied) will be honored at Smart Cities New York May 8-10 at Manhattan’s Pier 36. The winners include 14 cities, and in the SCNAA contest education category, the state of Arkansas and Abilene Christian University Campus.

Public voting for the contest was promoted across social media by organizations and governments:

Learn more about the award-winning smart cities projects below the infograph:

Connected & Autonomous Vehicles, Public Transit, Ride-Hailing, Ride-Sharing

Ann Arbor, Michigan - Safety Pilot Model Deployment and Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment

The city of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan have created, operated, maintained and upgraded the Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment to further connected vehicle technology development which enables safer streets, reduced pollutant emissions and improved travel efficiency. The deployment includes all forms of vehicles, bicycles and pedestrian handheld devices equipped with Connected Vehicle technology.

Smart City Transportation Infrastructure

Detroit, Michigan - Smart Intersections

Detroit is making its intersections smart as the core tool to improve mobility in Detroit and serve as the backbone of the city’s smart city strategy. The smart intersection system incorporates sensors, video-based detection, intelligent traffic signals, mobile monitoring tools and alerts and other elements. The smart intersections will result in improved traffic flow, increased road safety for all road users and provide real time traffic data, control and analytics for the city.

Digital Equity and Accessibility

New York City - Free TransitWirelessWiFi

New York City has enabled cellular service, a public safety band, and free public wifi in all 277 underground subway stations in the New York City Transit Authority system. Cellular connectivity is available on the four major U.S. wireless carriers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

Civic Engagement

Kansas City, Missouri - KCMO = The World’s Most Connected Smart City

Kansas City developed a unified smart city platform to manage new systems operating along its downtown Streetcar corridor. Video sensors, pavement sensors, connected street lights, a public WiFi network and parking and traffic management have supported 40 percent reduction in energy costs, $1.7B in new downtown development, 3,247 new residential units.

Urban Planning and Land Use

Austin, Texas - Sensors

The city is testing waterproof and environmentally-controlled ‘mini-vaults’ under ADA curb ramps at street intersections for smart city technology.

Austin has installed mini-vaults under its ADA curb ramps at intersections that provide waterproof and air-conditioned space for the placement of:

  • Small cells
  • Antennae
  • Edge computing
  • Sensors
  • Other electronic equipment

Instead of being placed as visual clutter along street on utility poles, this equipment, the amount of which is increasing in cities, could be placed out of sight, yet still readily accessible and within the city’s right-of-way.

Smart & Sustainable Infrastructure Winners

Spokane, Washington - Urbanova

The city of Spokane, in conjunction with Urbanova, has created a living laboratory to design cities for the future. It is driving three initial projects: Smart and Connected Streetlights Pilot Project, Shared Energy Economy Model Pilot and Gallup People-Centered Analysis Research Project. Urbanova’s multi-disciplinary collaboration is harnessing data to gain insights, empower people and solve urban challenges (such as air quality) in new ways. Spokane has also achieved net zero energy consumption across all of its municipal facilities and services.

San Diego, California - San Diego Deploys World’s Largest Network of IoT Sensors on City Streetlights

San Diego is deploying 3,200 intelligent nodes on city streetlights to establish a smart city infrastructure and provide data for developers to create apps for the community. The data will be used to direct drivers to open parking, help during emergencies, track carbon emissions and identify improvements for pedestrians and cyclists. The project includes 14,000 streetlight upgrades that will save $2.8M annually in energy costs.

Smart Water

Virginia Beach, Virginia - The StormSense Project

Virginia Beach’s StormSense deployment consists of a system of sensors that forecasts rising sea levels and coastal flooding 36 hours in advance, in a way that is replicable, scalable, measurable; it helps citizens mitigate the impacts of rising sea levels and coastal flooding.

Smart Buildings

Miami, Florida - How Miami-Dade Water Gets Smarter with the Internet of Things

Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer Department is leveraging the Internet of Things and cloud databases to better manage and supply water from its 1,000 separate pump stations and 4,000 miles of infrastructure. Interconnected data and analytics allow staff to respond to system failures and overflows more quickly.

Municipal Administration (Smart Asset Management)

Arlington, Texas - Operations and Asset Management Platform

The city of Arlington has implemented a comprehensive system to manage over 50,000 assets like roads, signs, playgrounds, water/irrigation and all aspects of operations from equipment to labor. 200 employees use the system on mobile devices. As a result, they have improved flood response, equipment usage, criminal trespass warnings, volunteer hours and more.

Emergency Management

El Paso, Texas - El Paso Regional Communications

The EPRCC is a fully redundant, virtualized communications and Next Generation 9-1-1 center which brings together 150 public safety professionals from all local communications, emergency management and crime analytics into one technologically advanced location. The center itself is LEED certified and achieves a number of efficiency and operational synergy goals.

Police and Law Enforcement

Baton Rouge, Louisiana - Baton Rouge Public Safety Common Operational Platform

PSCOP is a digital interactive mapping application utilizing GIS technology to provide a single source for users to access near-real time data and other information. This mapping information helps increase situational awareness, improve officer safety and deploy limited resources in support of daily operations, crime analysis and emergency management for all public safety agencies in the city of Baton Rouge and metro area partners.

Public Health and Social Services

Boston, Massachusetts - Boston’s Safest Driver

Boston has launched a smartphone app aimed at improving road safety. It provides drivers with a score out of 100 based on five criteria - acceleration, harsh braking, cornering, speeding and phone distraction. The app runs in the background of a phone and offers tips on how to improve one’s score. The goal was to improve driver habits through a fun mechanism (Editor’s Note: Boston and other cities consider gamification techniques to solve challenges).

Two Winners in Education

Abilene Christian University Campus, Abilene, Texas - Light Walk

On its campus, Abilene Christian University designed and installed an interactive exhibit. The project includes 20,000 smart LEDs, infrared and temperature sensors and a software architecture that lets any visitor interact with the installation via a webpage such as choosing effects or the lights’ reactions to nearby people. It provides an example of how connected devices, sensors and applications can turn any space into a work of art, and provides applied programming experience for students.

State of Arkansas - Arkansas Public School Computer Network (APSCN)

Arkansas completed its historic broadband initiative in late 2017, providing high-speed broadband to all public K-12 schools, charter schools and education service cooperatives in this predominantly rural state. The APSCN meets the current 2018 ConnectED Internet access goals in all districts, fits within ADE’s $11M budget, lowers the cost of internet access for schools and ensures cost effective network provision beyond 2018.

Tourism, Arts, Libraries, Culture, Open Spaces

Little Rock, Arkansas - River Lights in the Rock

River Lights in the Rock is a project that provides lighting on three bridges over the Arkansas River with over 2,000 LED lighting fixtures that can be controlled remotely and coordinated with one another, using a cloud-based remote management software. The project can also generate revenue as organizations meeting at the nearby convention center can brand the lighting.

Access the original announcement on IDC’s website.

Andrea Fox is Editor of Gov1.com and Senior Editor at Lexipol. She is based in Massachusetts.

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