Fast-Growing Orlando Frames Its Vision Of A Smarter, More Sustainable City

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Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge grant winner Orlando brings 130 stakeholders together to define next steps in advancing smart infrastructure investments and economic vitality in an equitable and sustainable manner.


The importance of smart, connected infrastructure in building a more sustainable future was underscored during a full-day Readiness Workshop in Orlando, one of five U.S. cities that won 2017 Smart Cities Council Challenge Grants.

“We want to become the world’s most intelligent, interconnected and efficient city,” Mayor Buddy Dyer said during the June 6 event hosted by the Smart Cities Council, the industry coalition advancing smart city development and innovation. “We want to become a showcase city for smart city technology.”

The workshop brought together city leaders, staff and key stakeholders from the Orlando community along with industry experts from the Council to help forge strategies that can turn the mayor’s vision into reality.

“As a government, we don’t have unlimited funding. We don’t have unlimited people to sit and watch everything. How do we build agile processes that we can use to sustain and drive value? That is what we are here to talk about,” explained Rosa Akhtarkhavari, the city’s Chief Information Officer.

While many view Orlando as an oasis of theme parks and sunshine, today travel, tourism and retail sales account for less than a third of the city’s economic activity. Rather, Orlando has become a high-tech business center. The life sciences industry, for instance, employs nearly 100,000 people in Orlando. Companies like Siemens and Oracle have major operations in the city. Deloitte has created a new software development operation in the city and is already growing it by nearly double the amount it originally projected.

Businesses are attracted to Orlando because of the available skilled labor. There are 500,000 STEM students within 100 miles. It is consistently one of the top cities in the U.S. for job growth and the city is looking to use smart technologies to optimize its infrastructure and grow in a sustainable manner. People are attracted to the city, too, because of the opportunities. Orlando has added 130,000 new residents in just the past two years.

The city is making investments in infrastructure, but wants to ensure those investments are both sustainable and equitable. One example: As it attracts even more high-paying, high-tech jobs, affordable housing has become even scarcer.
During the workshop, the Council led participants through an introduction to smart cities principles, demonstrating how cities can gather real-time intelligence from interconnected systems to stretch their infrastructure investments.

Participants also joined working groups covering built environment, energy, transportation, public safety, smart affordable housing, water, digital inclusion, and open data to discuss areas the city should focus on. They proposed key concepts for a smart cities roadmap that includes short-term wins, medium-term projects and longer-term goals. These will be further assessed for consideration by Orlando’s smart cities leadership team. Some of the concepts include:

Use of smart grid technologies to support the city’s long-term, 100% renewable energy goals

Application of energy models to identify most cost-effective building retrofit opportunities

Intersection monitoring and predictive analytics to enhance pedestrian and bike safety

Enhanced use of open data and data sharing across city departments

“It was a great pleasure to partner with the City of Orlando on a dynamic and successful Smart Cities Readiness Workshop,” said Council Chief Scientist Stuart Cowan. “We look forward to supporting Orlando’s Smart Cities Steering Committee as it translates the workshop results into ongoing initiatives.”


About Smart Cities Challenge Grants

In September 2016, the Smart Cities Council launched its first Readiness Challenge Grant. In addition to Orlando, the winning cities included Austin, Indianapolis, Miami, Orlando and Philadelphia. The Council will be working with the winning cities throughout 2017. The 2018 Challenge Grant program will launch in October during Smart Cities Week in Washington, D.C.

About Smart Cities Council

The Smart Cities Council is comprised of the foremost experts and leading global companies in the smart technologies sector, who serve as advisors and resources. Its goal is to accelerate the growth of smart cities worldwide by providing city leaders with access to technology counsel, financial tools, policy frameworks, visibility campaigns, and advocacy. For more information, visit






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