It’s More than Just Technology

A 4 Step Process for Becoming a Smart City

Seat Pleasant, Maryland

“A Smart City of Excellence”

The World’s First Authentic Small Smart City


I am Mayor Eugene W. Grant, and have been Mayor of Seat Pleasant for 15 years!

Seat Pleasant shares a border with Washington DC.

Our City is a bedroom community with a  population of a little more than 4700.

Our City is a transportation hub with easy access to public transit such as Metro, and is also in close proximity to 3 airports!

Given our small size, and limited resources, we must find ways to do more with less. That is why we are becoming a Smart City!

Links to this presentation:

Workshop Objectives


1. Defining a Smart City

2. Learn how to become a Smart City

3. Discuss and learn a Smart City use case

What is a Smart City?

A Smart City is an evolving ecosystem that leverages smart technology, smart policies, and smart processes to improve the quality of life for stakeholders by making the city more equitable, resilient, livable, walkable, and sustainable.



Smart Cities utilize technology as a tool to optimize the infrastructure and resources in order to:


  • Respond more effectively & dynamically to then needs & desires of stakeholders
  • Make more informed policy decisions
  • Promote accountability and transparency.
  • Promote social justice, leading to equitable and just societies

Smart City Ecosystem

Connect Stakeholders

Connectivity includes finding ways to connect people with the local government and with the local community. Technology is not a requirement for fostering connectivity.

Knocks Down Silos

By facilitating “connectivity” and knocking down organizational silos, Smart Cities can improve collaboration and coordination across agencies and departments.

Creating Network

The technology side of “connectivity” refers to a Smart City’s network. A secure and fast network is required to facilitate the adoption and implementation of IoT technologies. In addition, many future IoT applications will require 5G networks in order to function effectively and safely. The network also allows us to tackle the digital divide that is often prevalent in rural areas and disadvantaged communities.


Smart Cities need to foster connectedness. This includes technology-based connectivity such as the implementation of IoT and 5G networks, as well as people based connectivity that aims to foster a greater level of trust, collaboration, and engagement between the citizens and the local government.


Data is essential for a Smart City. As it becomes more readily available across the entire organization, it begins to enable data-driven decision making that ultimately leads to better outcomes.

Data Collection

What gets measured, gets improved. One of the first steps for cities undertaking digital transformation is to begin to collect data where ever it is possible.

data analytics

As data becomes more and more available, Cities can begin to leverage data analytics. Cities will be able to use descriptive analytics to understand what, when, and where.

derive insights

Once a city becomes comfortable with descriptive analytics, it can begin to analyze the data for meaningful value. Cities can use the data to derive insights that would otherwise have gone overlooked. These insights can then be used to influence decision making and policy direction.

Smart Policies

Smart Processes

Evolving Smart City ecosystems facilitate better outcomes in many areas ranging from Citizen Engagement to the Environment

Public Safety


Economic Development


Transportation & Mobility

Clean Energy

Government Operations

Citizen Engagement

Now that we’ve defined a Smart City and met objective 1 of this workshop, let us focus on objective 2, which is …

Why become a Smart City

Rising Stakeholder Expectations

Accountability & Transparency

Lack of Resources & Financial Constraints

Regulatory and Governance Challenges

Measuring Performance and Return-on-Investment (ROI)

The Solution – Smart Cities

The key to a successful transformation, that meets the challenges faced by cities, is taking a process-oriented approach to developing a strategic, citizen-centric smart city roadmap.

This approach forces cities to identify their stakeholder expectations, which includes accountability and transparency, their strengths and weaknesses, whether financial constraints or governance and regulatory challenges, and then identify opportunities for growth and threats to progress. This understanding of the end goal (the demands of our stakeholders) and how to measure progress towards that goal, is critical to success.

The 4 Step Process

Existing Assets are the Cornerstone for Progress


Cities should identify their existing assets, what they’re good at, what they’re known for, the uniqueness of their city, and the dynamics of their city.

Seat Pleasant Examples

Seat Pleasant’s small size and strategic location were huge advantages

  • Our size allows us to be the ideal “test-bed of innovation”. Companies and startups can test innovative technologies at low cost and still have a large impact area (the entire city).
  • Our small size also allows us to be nimble and flexible as an organization, with minimal red-tape
  • Our location is a prime location as we are both a transit hub and an urban gateway city, with over 100K cars traveling through the city every day.
Additional Examples
  • City-owned utilities
  • High Traffic Volume
  • Available Fiber for Broadband
  • Tax Incentives
  • Rural Designation

Re-Engineering Processes


Managers, Administrators, Mayors, and elected officials need to take a hard look at how they run their city.

Is there a better way to do what you’re doing at an affordable cost?


Example 1 - Amended the Procurement Process

We optimized our procurement process by removing wasteful steps and red tape.

By strictly enforcing agreed-upon budgets, we’re able to speed up the approval process. 

This lead to an efficiency improvement of 25-50%.



Example 2 - Measure, Measure, Measure

We introduced data collection steps into our processes so that we can begin to measure performance

Modernize & Integrate


Cities should modernize their technology, by shifting their focus to utilizing cloud and mobile solutions.



By migrating to the cloud, cities are able to

  • reduce costs
  • enhance security
  • reduce the burden on City staff to manage IT infrastructure

Nationally, people use their mobile devices more than any other device they own:

  • Use “Mobile” to push government to where the people are

Don’t get rid of all existing systems. Rather than ”rip & replace” existing systems with new ones, Cities need to find ways to integrate everything together.

For example, our incumbent work order system was integrated with our new Smart City platform in order to transfer data between the two systems. 

Infuse with Innovative Technologies


Finally, the last step is to infuse operations with innovative technologies

Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT refers to devices and sensors that collect, send and transmit, and receive data over the internet.

Example IoT devices include:

  • air quality sensors
  • foot and vehicle traffic sensors
  • internet enabled trashcan
  • motion or activity sensors
Artificial Intelligence

Cities can implement many solutions that utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning.

In Seat Pleasant, we’re using A.I. to engage and connect with our citizens using:

  • A.I. powered virtual agents
    • Watson powered chatbot
    • Virtual Avatar in Seat Pleasant
Command & Control Systems

Command and control systems include:

  • city operation centers and software
  • fleet and asset management
  • smart lighting controls

The Outcome: A Shared Services Hub

These steps lead to the implementation of a “Shared Services Hub”

The “Shared Services Hub” promotes:

Data-Driven Decision Making
Cross-Agency Collaboration & Coordination
Optimize Operations to Reduce Costs & Improve Efficiency
Predictive Analytics

Example Use Case:

Predicting Roadway Lifespans


The objective of this use case is to take a look at 3 different roads within a city and predict which road will need to be replaced first.

As part of this use case, we’ll also look at what options we have in order to increase the lifespan of that road.

Many Factors Influence Roadway Lifespans

Streets A, B, and C

All three of these roads were repaved in 2018. They were all paved by the same company, using the exact same materials. This company provided a 15-year life expectancy for each of the streets.

However, the City has seen in the past, that these streets degrade and fail at different times. The City wants to understand why in order to predict the next road failure and create a solution to increase roadway lifespan.

This presents a great Smart City use case that relies on the use of data to predict maintenance schedules for roads.

  • Traffic Volume
  • Speed
  • Weather
  • Winter treatment
  • UV Rays
  • Average Vehicle Weight
  • Construction

Street A

A highway connecting to another major highway junction and leading into a large metropolitan city

Made up of 4 lanes

High Exposure to UV Rays due to lack of treeline

Constantly salted before and after snow storms

Features a high number of storm drains leading to excellent water drainage

Speed Limit (mph)

Daily Traffic Volume (# of cars)

Average Vehicle Weight (lbs)

Speed Limit (mph)

Daily Traffic Volume (# of cars)

Average Vehicle Weight (lbs)

Street B

A residential street that connects East end with West end of the City.

Made up of 1 lane

Trucks prohibited

Low exposure to UV Rays due to high treeline

Constantly re-paved due to heavy Utility work

Street C

Small neighborhood street within the City

Very Low Traffic Volume

Excessive Heavy Truck traffic

Low exposure to UV Rays due to high treeline

A poor storm drainage system

Speed Limit (mph)

Daily Traffic Volume (# of cars)

Average Vehicle Weight (lbs)

Solution: Data Driven Decision Making using the Shared Services Hub


Using the Shared Services Hub, Cities can layer and analyze disparate data sets such as traffic volume, precipitation levels, UV exposure, and road maintenance records in order to discover insights.

Question: Which street will need to be repaved first, and can we extend its lifecycle?

Answer: Street C

Street C will have the lowest life expectancy mostly due to the combination of the following factors:

  • Excess surface water due to poor drainage system seeps into and weakens road sub-surface


  • Low traffic volume leads to a brittle surface and shrinkage cracks. Combined with the presence of heavyweight trucks exacerbates the problem.


  • The combination of brittle surface and shrinkage cracks and the excess water that seeps through them is found to weaken the sub-layer and lead to roadway failure.

By passing laws that prohibit heavy truck traffic, the City found that it can increase road lifespan.

Thank You

For more insightful information, check out the “Mayor’s Moment” Video Blog Series on Small Smart Cities

Want to learn more about Smart City transformation? Click on the “CGS” Image below for more information!

The remaining slides provide supplemental information detailing smart city use cases from Seat Pleasant, and from around the world.

Smart Cities can “give back” each city resident 15 days (120 hrs) worth of time every year!

Source:  – “Smart Cities – What’s in it for Citizens?”

15 Days Worth = 120 Hours

Smart Transportation & Mobility (Hrs)

Smart Public Safety (Hrs)

Smart Health (Hrs)

Smart Government (Hrs)

Research of Smart Cities across the world has shown that the following outcomes can be realized!

Source:  – McKinsey Global Institue – “Smart Cities: Digital Solutions For a More Livable Future”


Reduction in Fatalities (homicides, road deaths, fire deaths) due to improved Public Safety


Improve Efficiency of Gov Processes


Reduce Cost of Living by 1 to 3% annually


Reduction in Nighttime Crime as a result of Smart Lighting

Saved time (min) per citizen contact with government


Increased feeling of connectedness to the local community


Accelerated Emergency Response time


Increase employment by 1 to 3%


Increased feeling of connectedness to the local government

The Impact Smart Cities Bring

What we did in Seat Pleasant & How we did it

“MySeatPleasant” App

We developed and launched a mobile app that “pushes” government to where the people are. The mobile app provides access to city information and services 24/7. It also allows citizens to submit requests from service directly through the app (i.e. potholes, abandoned vehicles, vacant property issues, etc.)


Improved Response Time

Economic Development & Housing

We used the CGS Smart City Platform to estimate the true impact of blight and the vacant housing problem. We did so by bringing in data from the Maryland Dept. of Assessments and Taxation, Real Estate Data, Vacant Housing Data, Police Incident, and Public Works data and leveraging research done by the National Vacant Properties Campaign. We estimated that the city was losing upwards of $1M per year.

We’ve also seen property values in the city increase from $175K in 2016 to $235K.

$1 M

Cost to the City


Increase in Property Values

Neighborhood & Commercial Compliance Dept

We are re-engineering many of our code enforcement processes including issuing code violation citations, business and rental license registrations, and vacant home registration. Based on our initial analysis, we’re expecting a 30 to 40 % reduction in the time it takes to complete any of these processes.


Improved Efficiency

CGS – Brains of City of Operations

Predictive Analytics

Situational Awareness for SPPD –  A Cross Border Initiative

Smart Policing + Community Policing

The Police Department used the CGS Platform and its Public Safety capabilities to understand what is happening around our city and to identify criminal hotspots using the platform’s Predictive Policing capabilities. The criminal hotspots were used to inform patrol schedules and patrolling routes. Leveraging the CGS platform in conjunction with the city’s new policies to enhance the relationship between the department and its residents has resulted in significant reductions to crime.

  • Reduction in Burglaries 37.5% 37.5%
  • Reduction in Theft from Auto 71.42% 71.42%
  • Reduction in Citizen & Commercial Robbery 70% 70%
  • Reduction in Violent Crime 14% 14%

Cross Departmental Benefits

The Data we’re collecting, including traffic & vehicle data, weather data, crime data, and air quality data can be correlated together to reduce traffic congestion, improve public safety, public health, and spur economic development:


  • Helps us sell the benefits of investing in a particular area
  • Allows us to monetize data
  • Understand the impact of traffic on prevalence of Asthma in our city
  • Better estimate the lifespan of our roads
  • Improve event planning

This summer, we will deploy our NEW CRU-22 Mobile Command Center in high traffic areas, which will be fed data from Verizon’s Intelligent Lighting, Intersection Safety, and Public Safety Solutions. This new unit is intended for rapid deployment and is equipped with the new Fotokite- a tethered drone with thermal and low light cameras, which can stay airborne for 24+ hours!

Use Cases from Around the World

New York City

Law enforcement agencies improve public safety by using real-time and historical data to better inform decision-making, allocate resources appropriately, and dispatch officers to high crime areas

San Francisco

A Leader in Smart Transportation, San Francisco looked for ways to reduce congestion in the City by prioritizing public transport and by coordinating transportation across multiple vendors.


London was one of the first cities in the world to recognize the potential of open data, launching the London Data Store in 2010. This data repository, which includes information from various public agencies.


The ‘U-Health’ strategy involves transforming the manner by which citizens, in particular, elderly citizens, are able to access healthcare: Telemedince and Remote Monitoring equipment.

Our success is predicated on strategic and meaningful Partnerships!

We developed an extensive Partner Network, that is helping us realize our mission! This network includes, but is not limited to:

On June 19, 2018, the City of Seat Pleasant signed a Memorandum of Understand with Prince George’s Community College and the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce to ensure the success of the City’s Smart City Initiative. That agreement set forth a goal to develop a workforce that would be equipped to thrive in the world of Smart Cities.

I’m proud to say that in a short period of time, we’ve made tremendous progress towards this goal. Just last week, our team met with representatives from the Community College to discuss and review a preliminary curriculum for Smart City Workforce Development. The curriculum will focus on various Smart City applications, the Internet of Things, Data Science, Business Process Improvement, as well as Entrepreneurship.

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