Smart Vegas, Baby! Las Vegas and Ingenu kick off smart innovation district

This week at CES, Ingenu announced that the City of Las Vegas is leveraging its dedicated IoT network for the Las Vegas Innovation District to collect data from various smart city applications, like parking, air quality, and pedestrian traffic.

The district spans the area adjacent to the Las Vegas Strip and will serve as a test bed for new IoT innovations that will be deployed across the city’s vast metropolitan area. As a region which serves over 40 million visitors per year, the City of Las Vegas will utilize the data collected from devices on Ingenu’s Machine Network to drive operational efficiencies, expand city services and enhance city resources.

The city will initially launch an environmental monitoring application and will continue with deployments of other smart city applications.

See also: 3 benefits a smart city can gain from smart infrastructure

I spoke to City of Las Vegas managers, Michael Sherwood, Information Technologies Director and Don Jacobson, Enterprise Project Manager and Kirsten Garvin, Senior Marketing Manager at Ingenu to learn more. 

Sherwood explained that the Innovation District is really in its infancy, being only established in February 2016. They were focused on a series of central themes including increasing the safety of visitors and residents alike and “How can we be better stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars. How can we be more transparent in that approach and how can we invigorate the community to be part of that partnership. IoT is providing us with data analytics that gives us information not just for the city but for everybody to join in making the city a better place.”

He explained: “Right now we have a small Wi-Fi network that we looked at building out internally. It’s kind of what led us to the partnership with Ingenu as those are expensive systems to build and maintain.  We really looked at how other cities were handling that and we realized that they’re building a huge infrastructure that’s going to be extremely non-flexible and the ability to upgrade it or modify it over time might be might be problematic. And so that’s really where we started looking at how can we partner with private enterprise to build additional layers to our networks.”

Jacobsen noted the importance of data acquisition to the city:

“One of our goals is having all the information interoperable and available to everybody who needs it. And then the next thing is a decision support system that takes advantage of all of this. That would overlay to connect all this real-time information and predictive analytics that we want to do. Adjacent to that is enhancing our city planning tools across the City offices so that we’re able to provide what people have always enjoyed when they visit or live in Las Vegas.”

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Considered city planning

It’s fair to say that Las Vegas is not intent on offering highly experimental, high-risk smart city strategies. “We want solutions to roll out quickly rather than wait for a three-year roll out,” Sherwood says. Thus, their focus is on familiar concepts like smart traffic, public safety, public services and tourist amenities, public transportation and preparation for autonomous transport. There’s a refreshing lack of ego in that they’ve made thoughtful consideration of cities before them and forged relationships with the Smart cities of Glasgow, Austin, and San Jose.

As Sherwood notes: “We’re looking at how do we make downtown safer. We have a lot of intersections and a high density of pedestrians. How can we use IoT sensors to count foot traffic and know what the actual amount of traffic is in an area that will help us make better decisions inIn traffic safety and traffic monitoring.”

The City of Las Vegas is also partnering with Acyclica, to install a traffic-monitoring system that uses technology to help determine how well vehicles are moving (or not) and monitors the state of traffic signals – all in real time. The sensors will be installed at each of the region’s 2,300 intersections and across the region’s multi-jurisdiction corridors to provide the city and drivers a more holistic perspective on the region’s traffic.

The sensors will be used by the city to monitor and control traffic movement from their traffic control center. There, engineers can change traffic-signal timing, check various streets and intersections and analyze trends in real-time.

In addition, any driver in Las Vegas will soon be able to have access to a new type of smart city technology that allows traffic lights to communicate with their cars so they can know when the light is going to turn green.

Equally important, autonomous cars will also have access to real-time traffic light data so they know when to stop or slow down.  As you approach a traffic light anywhere in the Las Vegas area, your car will be able to show you the status of the light.  The system can also tell cars and drivers the optimum speed along a stretch of road to ensure that they can proceed through the maximum number of green lights.

One of the advantages of smart city initiatives is that the City is able to extrapolate meaningful data about how citizens and visits engage with the urban environment. Open data is an underlying principle of the City of Las Vegas, they’re even providing over 1 million lines of data on energy usage and street lighting data to the Smart Cities Hackathon at CES, hosted by ReadWrite.

Ingenu provides the connectivity

Underpinning the work of the City of LasVegas is their partnership with Ingenu. Ingenu is a wireless connectivity provider dedicated exclusively to machine connectivity. Ingenu will provide IoT connectivity for the City of Las Vegas, to enable various smart city applications through their Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA) technology.  RPMA is a full-featured two-way data link for low-power, wide area applications. It differs to Sigfox and LoRaWAN in a number of ways, for example, as Garvin explains:

“We are on the 2.4, literally anywhere in the world. We have the ability to navigate through the noise….We’re in over 30 markets right now, going to be in 100 by the end of 2017. One thing that enables us to do so is that we have very low infrastructure costs because our access points are able to transmit quite long distances so we don’t have to puts much infrastructure in as sigfox and LoRa”

The RPMA Solution has proven ROI with cities worldwide particularly because “we can utilize any device that is made throughout the world its great for everyone in the ecosystem as they can sell the same street light monitoring sensor in Las Vegas as they would in Dubai. So they don’t have to have a lot of certifications done as they would if they had cellular or other technology.”

Ingenu’s nationwide Machine Network build-out is now underway across the United States and is targeted to serve over 100 major metropolitan areas by the end of 2017. The Machine Network currently provides more than 100,000 square miles of wireless coverage for a host of IoT applications.

It’ll be great to see what smart city applications Las Vegas rolls out in time for next year’s CES.

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