When you hear â€œsmart city,â€ the first things to come to mind are probably sexy infrastructural innovations like networked fleets of self-driving cars or gleaming WiFi-connected displays that tell you everything youâ€™d want to know at any given moment. While these are very real scenarios, the smart city of the future could start at a whole lot smaller scale than you thinkâ€”how about with a device on your kitchen table?
In recent months, the city of Louisville has been working with local civic data groups and volunteer developers to experiment with ways to connect city data to smart home products found in folksâ€™ homes. The technology playing a big role in these efforts so far? You wonâ€™t be surprised to learn itâ€™s Alexa, Amazonâ€™s breakout AI assistant thatâ€™s capable of learning thousands of â€œskillsâ€ deployed through voice commands.
As CNET details, one of the skills Louisvillians can now add to their Alexa-enabled devices (like the Amazon Echo or Echo Dot) are â€œdaily flash briefingsâ€ from Mayor Greg Fischer himself. Another Alexa skill tells you when the next junk pick up is in your neighborhood.
The city and developers are also making use of IFTTT, an online service that lets you control a bunch of other digital services in if-this-then-that-style â€œrecipeâ€ commands. For example, one recent project uses IFTTT to program Phillips Hue smart light bulbs so that theyâ€™ll change color if the city issues an ozone alert.
For a closer look at how these projects work in the context of a home, check out this video overview, set in the CNET Smart Apartment in Louisville, a dedicated space for testing out home tech suitable for apartment renters (much like the larger scale CNET Smart Home).
Michael Schnuerle, Louisvilleâ€™s first data officer, has acknowledged that the success of these smart city efforts will first and foremost rely on accessibility for all, whether thatâ€™s in terms of reliable high-speed internet or smart home devices people can actually afford. But all this provides an exciting peek into how granular a â€œsmart cityâ€ can become. Stay tuned.