‘SmartLA 2028’ Tech Plan Reviews Successes, Lays Out Opportunities

While hosting the 2028 Olympics is the overall theme, the thrust of this strategic report is more immediate in terms of how vendors can work with the city in such areas as data analysis, data sharing, fiber optics and platform coordination.

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The Los Angeles City Council got a briefing last week on the city’s “SmartLA 2028” strategic plan, a road map of what the city has accomplished through technology in the past year – and a guide to what lies ahead.

The 54-page document, produced by the city’s forward-looking Chief Information Officer Ted Ross, is designed to help the city and its stakeholders navigate the path to “smart city” status as the city prepares to host the 2028 Olympics. But it also contains a lot of information that’s relevant to residents, businesses and visitors in the intervening years.
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Los Angeles CIO Ted Ross.

“Using ‘SmartLA 2028,’ the city of Los Angeles will use both emerging and existing technologies to make Los Angeles a best-run ‘smart city’ that benefits all of our diverse communities,” Ross told Techwire this week. “From green technology to IoT (Internet of Things) platforms to a regional data marketplace, SmartLA 2028 has 53 separate goals to transform how we live, work and play in the city of Los Angeles.”

First, the plan lists technologies already in place that, it says, “provide a direct and tangible public benefit,” including development and rollout of a MyLA311 mobile app, 5G cellular deployment, electric vehicle charging stations, body cameras for police, the ShakeAlertLA earthquake warning app and GPS-enabled street sweepers. In addition, using smart city technologies, the city has been able to:

  • Stand up and mobilize free COVID-19 testing sites within three days.
  • Enable city workers to deliver contact-free essential public services (e.g., electronic permitting, library programs, etc.) that were previously in-person only.
  • Deliver critical information daily to keep residents safe through multiple digital channels (e.g., smartphones, websites, TV, social media).
  • Strengthen community engagement and communications.
  • Accomplish these tasks “while providing the critical protections to secure the privacy and data of our constituents.”

As a result of the technology, the report says, the city has realized measurable gains:

  • A 10 percent reduction in travel time using 40,000 loop detectors across 4,500 connected intersections through their traffic management system (ATSAC).
  • Reduced electricity usage, and realized annual savings of $3 million, by converting over 165,000 streetlamps to LED, with 50,000 of those devices connected online.
  • Improved connectivity through 2,500 high-speed 5G cellular access sites across Los Angeles, with 3,000 more planned in the next three years.

Looking at the strategic goals set forth in the plan, the most promising prospects for tech vendors between now and 2023 appear to be in the areas of IoT sensor devices, data sharing, fiber optics, GIS and RFID technology. Those technologies are detailed in the plan’s goals:

  • Develop a Los Angeles Street Lighting Strategic Plan, which includes strategies for shared IoT sensor devices, remote monitoring and design for new citywide streetlamps, while maintaining ownership and intellectual property, by 2021.
  • Revise the city’s Information Security Policy to include IoT and infrastructure data sharing practices by 2021.
  • Adopt a Digital Code of Ethics, with standards for smart infrastructure to ensure it does not discriminate against specific communities by 2021.
  • Inventory fiber-optic assets and incentivize fiber buildout to maximize bandwidth for LA2028 and beyond (supports venues, entertainment streaming, etc.) by 2022.
  • Assess public-private utility tracking and identification through a shared Los Angeles Utility Tracking Portal using GIS software and RFID technologies by 2022.
  • Adopt an Internet of Things Policy that details the shared usage of sensors to avoid redundant IoT sensor networks that congest the urban environment by 2023.

And in the look-ahead part of the plan, the city lays out “a series of strategic challenges to overcome as we increase the capabilities of smart city data tools and practices towards the year 2028.”

Those potential hurdles include a shortage of data scientists across city departments, which limits the city's ability to perform in-depth analysis of city services and accessibility. Departmental “data silos” are also a challenge to overcome, in that they “can hinder cross-department data sharing and analysis.”

Also in the area of data, Los Angeles lacks a centralized, citywide data inventory, and a lack of standardized data tools that data analysts can use as a resource.

The plan also contains a message of particular interest to vendors:

“There are exciting opportunities to partner with the private sector to obtain useful IoT data, but doing so may require accommodating disparate technologies,” the plan states. “Without standardization, city expertise on multiple platforms would become inefficient and hinder outcomes.”

To that end, the city may offer opportunities to vendors who can address the following challenges:

  • Lack of integration standards when acquiring new IoT devices, which limits machine-to-machine and machine-to-human data integrations for smart city projects.
  • Inconsistent IoT data access and data sharing across various vendor platforms.
  • Inability to leverage geographically specific “smart city” sensor data from private industry for use by the city.

The full report may be viewed in its entirety online.
Dennis Noone is Managing Editor of Techwire. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C. He lives in the Northern California foothills.