Spokane Journal of Business

Spokane is among 10 cities in national Smart City initiative

Year-long project to begin with workshop in Charlotte

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Envision America, a nonprofit supporting arm of the Obama Administration’s Smart Cities initiative, has selected Spokane to be among the first 10 cities in the U.S. to participate in the collaborative program.

Spokane Smart City Accelerator will represent Spokane, joining entities from nine other cities at a workshop scheduled for next month in Charlotte, N.C., says Heather Rosentrater, Avista Corp. vice president of energy delivery and customer service.

The accelerator is a collaborative effort formed in 2014 by Avista Utilities, Itron Inc., the city of Spokane, Washington State University, the Spokane office of Seattle-based McKinstry Co., and the University District Development Association.

“It’s a year-long effort that kicks off with intensive workshops to work on a project,” Rosentrater says of the Smart Cities program.

The 770-acre University District will serve as a living laboratory for the project, which will emphasize interactions between energy, water, health, food, and the environment, she says.

Smart cities use information and communications technology with the goal of enhancing livability, workability, and sustainability, Rosentrater says.

Spokane Smart City Accelerator’s vision for the University District brings together planned technology, infrastructure improvements and additions, and the health-sciences focus within the district to establish a community-scale laboratory that aims to stimulate development and heighten community members’ well-being.

One small example of smart-city technology might be smart streetlights, which, through cross-referencing data, could be optimized to enhance energy efficiency, security, and customer experience, she says.

Spokane is the smallest city selected for the initiative.

“I think it’s because of the work we were doing over the last 18 months,” Rosentrater says. “We’ve collaborated on a lot of things in the past for the community.”

Other cities selected by Envision America for the initiative are Pittsburgh; Portland; Los Angeles; San Diego; Dallas; Milwaukee; Cambridge, Mass.; New York; and Greenville, S.C.

The initiative isn’t affiliated with the political activist group Envision Spokane.

Mike McLean
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Deputy Editor Mike McLean has worked his entire journalism career in the Inland Northwest. Mike, who also lives to reel in fish and crank up music, has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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