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How Las Vegas is Betting on Innovation and IoT to Become a Smart City with a Smart Economy.

Smart spaces improve business, city operations and quality of life for one of America’s most famous cities

In 1516, Sir Thomas More introduced the world to the ideal society in his book Utopia. While Utopia might still be beyond our reach, smart cities, businesses and organizations are innovating, using technology to improve our lives and society. For example, the city of Las Vegas is using next-generation technology to become a smarter city with the goal of “building community to make a better life.” In this unique travel destination, which hosted a record-breaking 42 million visitors in 2016 and is home to over 630,000 residents, urban leaders are developing innovative solutions to enhance the city experience, build a more competitive and diversified economy and increase efficiencies within the city.

Today, Las Vegas is engaged in strategic efforts to diversify its tourism and service-based economy to attract manufacturing, technology and other industries. A key to this strategy is integrating new technologies into the city’s operations, economy and users’ experiences. To achieve its goals, Las Vegas embarked on an innovation journey to create a smarter and more efficient city that is a great place for people to live and visit, and for businesses to flourish.

Making a Bet on IoT With the Innovation District

In February 2016 (exactly 500 years after the release of Utopia), the city launched its own Innovation District to implement smart spaces in a portion of downtown that includes diverse infrastructure, businesses and socio-economic demographics – an ideal testing ground for the smart city vision. “The Innovation District allows us to test different types of IoT technologies before we scale them to the entire city,” said Michael Sherwood, Chief Innovation Officer for the City of Las Vegas.

With Hitachi IoT solutions that integrate a variety of 3rd-party data and sensors, existing technologies can be integrated into the platform. With hundreds of IoT devices such as smart cameras and sensors in place throughout the Innovation District, Las Vegas collects data that is analyzed to extract insights and real-time alerts that can be shared with its economic development, public works and other user communities. As part of Las Vegas’ smart city innovation, a “Go Vegas” Wi-Fi app provides a seamless view of people as they traverse the city, with a single sign-on capability so citizens can quickly access all city services.

Using the app, visitors and residents gain a bird’s-eye view of downtown activities, parking availability, and can easily engage with government services at any time. The data gathered is shared across agencies so that functionality can be added to the app and programs can be enhanced based on real data. “We’re gaining a wealth of information that we never had before, and we can rely on data for greater efficiency, safety and for creating a better experience for our citizens, businesses and visitors. As we go forward, we’re deploying more technology to get more information because it’s so important,” said Sherwood.

Another example is the autonomous shuttles that began operating in November 2017. These shuttles carry passengers on short trips within the innovation district, helping to demonstrate their potential and ability to navigate active, dynamic streets and traffic conditions.

Choosing the Right Technology Investments

To transform its smart city vision into reality, Las Vegas needed a technology partner with experience deploying and integrating IoT devices like sensors and smart cameras to collect, store, manage, protect and analyze the data – and be able to scale solutions to meet the needs of an entire city. Las Vegas wanted to connect these disparate devices, collect the data and analyze it to provide insights to improve efficiency and add the necessary changes. There are few companies in the world today with both the operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) expertise to support Las Vegas in this complex undertaking – and help it collect, store, protect and manage all of this data.

Las Vegas chose Hitachi to help it provide a wealth of valuable data and the ability to pull all its data sources together to simplify the complexity. With Hitachi Smart Spaces and Video Intelligence, Las Vegas officials have tools for analysis, visualization and dashboards that enable real-time views of events taking place on the streets of downtown, and historical patterns that can enhance planning. The solution includes Pentaho’s advanced analytics software, allowing operators to create automated alerts when issues are identified to enable rapid resolution. “Data is the new oil, and like oil it is not useful in raw form. Instead it must be refined and turned into a useful product that helps solve a problem. When we start refining data with tools like Pentaho, we can truly deliver service levels that people expect from government,” said Sherwood.

To enable real-time traffic analysis, Las Vegas uses Hitachi Video Analytics to distinguish and count the number of cars, bikes, trucks, buses on its streets and even see people flows at transit stations and sidewalks. This data can help retailers and developers determine prime business and advertising locations, and inform city and event planners of potential traffic issues so they can plan proactively. This data can also be used to identify anomalies in traffic and support new initiatives such as bicycle lanes on roadways. Smart sensors can even determine when trashcans need to be emptied and streetlights need to be replaced. These efficiencies lead to a better day-to-day experience for citizens and visitors throughout the city.

Choosing the Right Technology Investments