Lauren Riga, assistant administrator for Indianapolis’ Department of Metropolitan Development, said the award is a chance for the city to show the potential of its relatively new smart city initiative. Although this is the first time Indianapolis has earned the Smart City Council grant, Riga worked with the council in September to prepare for her presentation at the Smart Cities Week conference in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

“We were pleasantly surprised,” said Erik Hromadka, CEO of Global Water Technologies, one of the city’s smart city partners. “It was a good affirmation.”

Hromadka said he wants Indianapolis’ smart city technology to provide better visibility and usage. For example, there is a lag between the amounts of water a person uses and when a person receives a water bill; Hromadka stated he wanted technology to keep better track of where water goes and how it’s used.

One of the city’s major long-term goals is to redevelop 16 Tech, a plot of land adjacent to the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus that is bordered on three sides by the White River and Fall Creek. Because of its close proximity to downtown Indianapolis and university researchers, 16 Tech will ultimately thrive as a testing facility for advanced tech, Hromadka said. He also said the space may even accommodate an electric car-sharing program.

The 16 Tech campus will serve as a “global innovation hub,” according to Riga. She said building the smart campus from the ground up allows her team to ensure the buildings’ infrastructure can handle a large number of connected devices.

“When you have the opportunity to build a smart city from scratch, you can connect the infrastructure from the beginning,” Riga said.

Riga said the city will develop 16 Tech over the next few years. In the meantime, she is leading engagement efforts with community leaders to learn their ideas on smart city initiatives. Indianapolis will probably host its workshop in late summer or early fall, according to Riga.

“The community is actively engaged. Citizen input in data-driven decision-making is critical to success,” Riga said. “It’s going to be strategic and inclusive. It will lay a foundation that will get us to the next level.”

– Eleanor Lamb

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