- Illinois leaders announced that they have chosen vendors for the statewide smart street light program. The contract was awarded to Johnson Controls, Globetrotters Engineering and TEN Connected Solutions, according to Government Technology and others.
- Local governments throughout Illinois can upgrade their street lights to LED fixtures through the state's joint purchasing program. The streetlights also can be equipped with Wi-Fi and sensors for IoT technologies.
- The initiative is part of leaders' efforts to make Illinois the first "smart state."
The state purchasing program allows municipalities to invest in technologies they otherwise would not be able to afford. Such collaborations are increasing in popularity, including near Boston where 16 suburbs came together to create a bike-share program, the Sacramento area where communities are launching an e-bike program and Alaska where four communities banded together for a wind-diesel microgrid.
The initiative is notable because it allows cities of all sizes to reap the benefits. Illinois is a state with diverse community structures, from the urban metropolis of Chicago to the rural farming communities that make up many other parts of the state. Allowing all local governments to get in on the initiative creates a sense of unity and continuity for the state's smart initiative, as well as increased equity, which is a trend receiving greater attention throughout the country.
The state's push to assist municipalities with technological improvements is interesting considering that Illinois has the worst credit rating of any state. But Illinois leaders' focus on a digital transformation could actually help with finances. Part of the smart state initiative is to increase efficiencies with digital portals and technologies, such as the blockchain initiative which can improve budgeting and recordkeeping. In addition to achieving overall cost savings through these digital improvements, specific initiatives also provide savings. For example, LED streetlights can cut millions of dollars in operating costs, as has been discovered in cities such as Portland, ME.