- Arrow Electronics and the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance will start the Colorado Open Lab in Arrow’s Centennial, CO office to help cities work with academic, private and public partners on new technology opportunities, backers announced Tuesday at the Colorado Smart Cities Symposium in Denver.
- The lab, funded by the Denver South Economic Development Partnership and a $500,000 grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, will include an engineering and innovation facility, and showcases on areas including smart street lighting, smart buildings, resource conservation, connected vehicles and others.
- The project will offer a "great opportunity for cities to start collaborating," said Matthew Bailey, smart cities global practice leader for Arrow Technologies. Data generated through the lab will be open to all members of the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance. Once systems are "proven in the living labs," Bailey said, "you have confidence to deploy them in your regions."
The Colorado Open Lab, which is set to open in the second quarter of 2019, is meant to lean on the regional partnerships that have defined Colorado’s Smart Cities Alliance, which includes city, county and state governments along with private and academic partners. By allowing cities throughout the greater Denver region to collaborate, the members can not only share lessons learned, but also work toward a future where technology and smart systems are synchronized throughout the state.
At a symposium where partnerships and collaboration were a dominant theme, Alliance members were already touting the lab as an important testing ground. Speaking on a panel at Tuesday’s symposium, Centennial, CO Mayor Stephanie Piko said the data sharing commitment would help city governments “find out what’s going to work for all of us” without spending tight budget dollars on new technology that may not pan out. “It’s not going to be about ‘oh, what’s shiny,’” Piko added, “now we can test how we get technology in the places that are most difficult.” Colorado Smart Cities Alliance co-founder and chairman John Tolva said the lab "de-risks innovation" for cities, especially for "cross-jurisdictional" problems.
Cities and states are deploying new labs as a way to establish themselves as tech hubs; Indiana, for example, opened an internet of things (IoT) lab in Fishers as a way to attract Midwest governments and companies and to test IoT applications for the state’s manufacturing and agricultural industries. Colorado is hoping that the Arrow lab will serve a similar purpose for the rapidly-expanding mountain west, and allow the area to be a leader in smart cities technology.
"The pace of growth in Colorado demands that we look at new models of collaboration between our companies, our cities and our research institutions," said Tolva.