According to an article in greenbiz.com, Illinois is set to become the very first US smart state. It will be the first to support a coordinated and government approved strategy for tech-centric initiatives in smart cities.
The plan will honor community’s local priorities while presenting a unified approach to information technology. In January last year, the initiative was mandated by Gov. Bruce Rauner to create an agency charged with overseeing investments in Internet of Things technologies, as well as smart lighting projects and anything to do with smart technology. It’s a big change for the state as in the past Illinois didn’t have a terrific reputation for using IT efficiently.The article points out that just three years ago, Illinois was in the last quartile of states for using IT effectively.
Since last year, Illinois has been reducing decades of technology debt by investing in new infrastructure designed to help the state become more energy efficient and to operate more effectively. Many of these infrastructure investments will also collect information about the world around them. There’s also the intention to establish best practices and central resources for emerging technology centers that will help clarify digital privacy concerns and topics such as cyber security are expected to take high priority. Through coordinating purchases, it’s hoped that Illinois will be able to accelerate its modernization while achieving better pricing. This is potentially a move that could help cut taxes but which will also help build the foundation for a range of longer term services.
Currently, property taxes in Illinois are the highest in the nation and the article highlights the fact that LED streetlights could offer savings of up to 50%. The state is also focused on ensuring broadband is more widely available.
Interestingly, although Illinois may be the first state in the US to take this type of a coordinated approach, it may be able to gain inspiration from India. Two years ago the country implemented a national goal of creating 100 smart cities by 2020 to help improve the quality of life and to drive economic growth. Out of the 1300 towns, villages and cities in Illinois, around a quarter hope to have a strategy in place by next year.
Illinois might be unique in its intent to become a smart state, but Texas is also beginning to establish coordinated strategies focusing on transportation.