- Three stakeholder groups in the Washington, DC area have come together to form the Greater Washington Smart Region Movement, a public-private partnership (P3) to identify and deploy smart city technology. The partnership consists of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, which collectively represent hundreds of organizations.
- The three founding organizations will spend the next several months engaging in a planning process to define the appropriate operations and governance structure to objectively prioritize projects, secure funding, select suppliers and ensure positive outcomes for citizens.
- “While we’ve already implemented several smaller-scale smart initiatives, this effort will help us think bigger about our shared needs, reduce taxpayer costs by making joint purchases and working with local businesses and plan for these technologies to work seamlessly across our jurisdictional borders,” Robert White Jr., COG Board of Directors chair and a member of the DC Council, said in a statement.
The standard model cities use for deploying smart technologies is to make it primarily a municipal effort and enlist assistance from the private and/or nonprofit sectors on a project-by-project basis. P3s have continued to grow in popularity over the last several years as cities discover the benefits of working on what they do best and bringing in outside assistance from partners who excel in their own areas of expertise.
Cities also increasingly have taken a regional approach to solving problems and providing services in a unified manner for a host of issues that do not necessarily stay confined within municipal borders. This helps all involved municipalities achieve greater success by accessing pooled resources such as concepts, space, infrastructure and funding. For example, Boston partnered with neighboring communities on bike-share, renewable energy and housing initiatives.
The Greater Washington Smart Region Movement combines both the P3 model and regional municipal collaboration. Phoenix is among the cities delving into this approach for smart development and devising refined technological solutions. The approach could help to smooth innovation interconnectivity across borders and include a greater number of citizens, which ultimately has the potential to reduce the digital divide and ensure no one is left behind.
Many consider Washington, DC a leader in the tech and smart city space, having been among the first to use data collection, provide free Wi-Fi and test dockless mobility programs in a deliberate way. Fostering collaboration through this new group likely will accelerate smart growth for the region by leveraging advancements in nearby areas, such as Amazon's HQ2, slated to arrive in the DC suburbs of Arlington and Alexandria, VA.