- Atlanta issued a request for proposal (RFP) last Friday as part of the Atlanta SmartCity Strategic Infrastructure Initiative in order to form business relationships and partnerships that will assist the city in planning and developing smart city projects.
- The RFP outlines a number of initiatives Atlanta hopes to pursue, including fiber deployment, master neutral host carrier deployment, smart poles, increased Wi-Fi connectivity, interactive digital information kiosks, smart traffic infrastructure, smart lighting, smart fleet optimization and smart water meters.
- The city notes an increasing population is causing Atlanta to experience new challenges with street traffic, data traffic and maintaining a "safe and sustainable environment," and aims to partner with businesses that can improve public services and help meet residents' demands. Proposals are due no later than 2pm ET on Jan. 25.
Atlanta has pursued smart initiatives for a number of years through its SmartATL program, which focuses on five core pillars: mobility, public safety, environment, city operations efficiency and public & business engagement. In just the past year, the city served as a pilot market for Verizon's 5G network; launched a Smart Corridor Demonstration Project on North Avenue to prep the city for an autonomous future; and even launched a TravelSafely app to enhance mobility efficiency for users.
This RFP, however, will help Atlanta develop a more comprehensive smart city roadmap — a tactic many cities are now pursuing in order to effectively implement new tech and initiatives rather than rolling them out in a disjointed manner. In an interview with Smart Cities Dive, Atlanta Department of Public Works Commissioner William Johnson, who wrote the RFP, elaborated on this trend.
"One of the things we're finding is that when you start looking at how you go about expanding that on a much larger scale, beyond the one-off projects and demonstration projects, the numbers grow exponentially," Johnson explained. "We're looking at opportunities to partner with firms that are in that space, some of the experts. We've looked at a lot of best practices from other cities, we had a delegation go over to Barcelona recently ... and we're really looking to leverage our ability to build the backbone infrastructure to be in a position to support all of the technology that's coming our way."
Outside of the RFP, a driving force for smart city innovation in Atlanta may come from the city's newly-inaugurated leader, Mayor Keisha Bottoms. During her inauguration address this week, she laid out plans for increased safety, affordable housing, better transit options and overall improved city governance. Bottoms' enthusiasm, assisted by partnerships with skillful businesses, has the potential to keep the city at the forefront of smart initiatives throughout the country.