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Small towns can be smart cities too

Submitted by doug.peeples on May 10, 2017

Smart Cities Council Chairman Jesse Berst, Seat Pleasant Council members Gloria Sistrunk and Lamar Maxwell (left to right) and IBM's Michelle Rudnicki and Seat Pleasant Mayor Eugene W. Grant (signing) gathered at Smart Cities Week to formalize the partnership between the community and IBM. - Smart Cities Council photo

When we think of smart cities the tendency is to envision cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco — major metropolitan areas that measure their populations by the millions. But there's a trend gaining traction and attention: small communities are realizing they're just as entitled as the big cities to take on smart city initiatives and share in the benefits more sustainable and livable cities can provide. Seat Pleasant, Maryland's city leaders and Council Lead Partner IBM are moving forward to transform the small community of 5,000 into what Mayor Eugene W. Grant to as a Smart City of Excellence.

For leaders of other smaller communities considering smart city makeovers, our story may offer some ideas you can use – and/or some encouragement to follow through with them. — Doug Peeples

Seat Pleasant's proximity to Washington, D.C., often means it gets a tiny fraction of the attention heaped on the nation's capital. But for Mayor Grant thinks his community's foray into cloud technology will change that. "Seat Pleasant is a small community outside Washington, D.C. But we believe we are just as important and significant as any community in the world.

"Our desire is to engage with our citizens so they can be engaged with their government – the government they pay for." He delivered his remarks during a joint press conference with IBM at Smart Cities Week Silicon Valley Tuesday. Smart Cities Council Chairman Jesse Berst, in introducing the press conference, echoed the mayor's sentiments with the comment "Why should smart city technologies be available only for large cities? They should be available to smaller cities as well."

One way the community expects to do that is with its "My Seat Pleasant" mobile app designed by Purple Forge, one of IBM's business partners. The app can be used to request city services and get access to a city document library, a city directory, on-demand notifications, garbage and recycling schedules, city jobs listings, events and more.

The community also will incorporate IBM's Intelligent Operations software in its new Intelligent Operations Center which will provide an overview of city operations across all departments. Initially, the center will connect public works, code enforcement and police department, an integration that will enable multi-departmental decision making, event coordination and communications at a level expected to greatly enhance the community's operational efficiency as well as the quality of services provided to its citizens.

Referring to IBM's partnership with Seat Pleasant, IBM VP for North America Industry Solutions Sales Michelle Rudnicki said "It's a great point we're starting on (with Seat Pleasant) and it can only get better."