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Making Utah Cities Smarter

What makes a smart city, smart? According to the National League of Cities report, “a smart city is a city that has developed some technological infrastructure that enables it to collect, aggregate and analyze real-time data and has made a concerted effort to use that data to improve the lives of its residents.” There are many examples of smart city technologies in use in Utah, including Salt Lake City’s parking system that allows for the collection and use of real-time parking data for residents. These systems allow local governments to share data more efficiently and accurately with residents in real-time or near real-time.

One Utah company, Blyncsy, is working in the smart city space. This startup company of less than 3 years is quickly becoming a leader in movement data intelligence.  CEO, Mark Pittman, tells the tale of being stuck at a stoplight a while back with no one else on the road. He faced the choice of waiting an inordinately long time at a light that was clearly not functioning or proceeding forward and breaking the law. This problem is not an isolated one. The all too common problem sparked an inventive solution in the mind of this entrepreneur.

Pittman asked, ‘what if traffic lights truly worked on demand?’ As he went to work building a system to monitor real-time flows of traffic in Salt Lake City, he found there were many more opportunities in traffic and movement data beyond getting a red light to turn green for oncoming cars in an otherwise deserted intersection. That was the beginning of a movement intelligence system that has been implemented in several cities, counties, highways and shopping centers in Utah, Colorado and Idaho. The real value in this business came from the data collection, aggregation and analytics. The insights a community can gain into its pedestrian patterns, shopping patterns, general travel and mobility across various geographical areas is impressive. While Blyncsy’s technology continues to improve and its work with USTAR and UDOT continues in Utah, this smart city company is also gaining recognition in other parts of the country.

Blyncsy is just one of several companies in Utah developing smart city technologies. USTAR supports the development of technologies such as these through competitive grant programs targeted for industries with high growth potential from aerospace to automation, and clean energy to life science.

While the urbanization of the Wasatch Front area grows at a slow, steady pace, the adoption of smart city technologies may be slow and steady as well. USTAR continues to support the development of technologies that will help Utah cities become and remain smarter cities now and in the future.

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