Open Innovation for Vegas Smart City Efforts

Published Jul-22-17

A smart city project to automatically reveal when street lights are out.

ReadWrite/Amazon Alexa, United States

The Story:

Open Innovation for Vegas Smart City Efforts Las Vegas may well be known as a hedonistic playground of gambling, girls and all-night parties, but it is also something of a test bed for smart city technologies and services.

While definitions vary, the smart city concept generally refers to the taking advantage of interconnected technologies to make life easier for citizens. "The greatest benefit of a smart city is the integration of technology, sensors and data to address problems that citizens of urban environments have," said David Wroth from UL, an American safety consulting and certification company.

Smart Cities Hackathon at CES

Las Vegas city leaders are engaged in a broad spectrum of smart city projects to make the area more livable and enjoyable for its 600,000 residents and more than 40 million people who visit annually. One way it is trying to achieve its smart city goals is through open innovation, and in 2017 held the Smart Cities Hackathon at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Approximately 200 people took part in the two-day open innovation event, pouring their energies into turning the information from a series of civic data streams into novel and workable concepts that support sustainability, safety and efficiency for smarter cities. Their endeavors were judged by a panel of experts that included the City Manager of Las Vegas.

Hackathons are fantastic ways to innovate. Not only are they places where ideas can flourish, but creative minds are free to try new things in a low-risk environment. Moreover, time limits imposed on hackathons force participants to come up with actionable solutions.

Hackathon Winners

The winner of the $10,000 Grand Prize of the Smart Cities Hackathon was Team Wingin' It for a system powered by Alexa (the intelligent personal assistant developed by Amazon) that can quickly show which of Las Vegas's 52,000 streets lights might be out. In a description of their winning project, team members wrote: "The system automates a pull of the data from the server, runs the analysis and produces a list of faulty streetlights for Alexa to read to the traffic manager." Currently, the city relies on residents reporting when lights are out, but the Alexa-powered system could speed up matters.

Among the other winners were:

A-Team for a solution called Alfred that reduces hotel guests' water consumption by raising awareness.

Team GuardSight for a system that measures temperature, moisture and humidity data from Honeywell thermostats, and alerting homeowners of any anomalies, such as high temperatures, which could indicate a risk of fire.

Turning Ideas into Action

Such was the success of the hackathon that CES is thinking of hosting another one next year. In the meantime, city bosses have already been in touch with two of the finalists, including Team Wingin' It to look at their ideas in more detail.

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