In recent months, Miami has graced numerous headlines as a new tech capital in the U.S. The city has seen a number of tech firms open up new headquarters in the city, with even more showing interest in relocating to the area. Major investors, including SoftBank, which announced plans to invest $100 million in tech startups located in South Florida earlier this year, have zeroed in on the area as a new hotspot for startup incubation.
But it’s not just businesses moving into the area that are establishing Miami as a tech hub. The city’s government, as well as governments from surrounding areas, have announced numerous smart city investments, transforming areas and neighborhoods into high-tech municipalities through innovative technology that better connects users with the city, understands weather patterns, and streamlines transportation.
Here’s a look at four smart city initiatives in (and around) Miami right now:
Miami’s IKE digital kiosks
In June, the city of Miami announced it would be partnering with IKE Smart City to install up to 150 digital IKE (interactive kiosk entertainment) hubs across Overtown, Downtown, Brickell, Coconut Grove, Little Havana, and Allapattah, among other locations.
The kiosks, each of which functions as a free WiFi hotspot, each have two digital touch screens featuring multilingual content, including business listings, detailed wayfinding, events listings, civic resources, job listings, and information about local social services including homeless shelters, addiction recovery programs, and food support.
As the kiosks are location-aware, the information displayed will be relevant to the surrounding area, and each kiosk’s wayfinding feature will provide walking directions to nearby locations, plus directions using multimodal transportation options, such as public transit. In addition, each kiosk will regularly exhibit new art projects by local and international artists.
“As the City of Miami continues to evolve into one of the country’s leading technology hubs, we are so excited to add Ike digital kiosks to our rights-of-way to build on our commitment to smart city initiatives and reinforce our role as innovators,” Francis Suarez, mayor of Miami, said of the IKE kiosk project.
The IKE kiosks will be operated by IKE Smart City, at no cost to taxpayers; the City of Miami, meanwhile, will receive revenue from advertising content displayed on the kiosks when they’re not in use.
Coral Gables’ smart city future
Coral Gables has extremely ambitious, comprehensive plans for its smart city tech, which it will roll out throughout 2021 and into 2022.
Among the city’s plans: Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, smart city poles, and smart lights; the integration of smart building infrastructure at a new public safety headquarters, which will include automated temperature testing and facial recognition; and the launch of AIDA, an AI assistant being used on the Coral Gables Smart City Hub Public Platform.
The city also recently announced that it has been selected as a Grow with Google partner, and will be hosting that Google program’s training programs and workshops throughout 2021.
Key among the city’s new smart tech is the launch of its new Urban Analytics Artificial Intelligence Platform, which has been in development for about two years. That platform aggregates data from various touchpoints across the city, including traffic sensors, city cameras, and environmental sensors that monitor air and water quality, into a publicly available hub. Some of this data will also be driven by a newly installed Ekin smart city pole — the first of its kind in the country.
“Today when we talk about smart cities, we are talking about hyperconnectivity,” Raimundo Rodulfo, director of IT and chief innovation officer for the city, said. “We are talking today about the ability of vehicles to connect to the surrounding environment or connect vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-cloud. All those capabilities of smart mobility are also enabled by smart districts.”
Miami’s intelligent traffic lights
In Miami-Dade, a new partnership with Siemens’ Yunex Traffic vertical, is seeing the introduction of a Connected Bike initiative, which will use a smartphone app to prioritize cyclists at traffic lights throughout the city.
The app, called SiBike: Smartphone-based Bike Detection, uses geolocation to monitor where a cyclist is in real-time at any point during their ride. When a cyclist passes a trigger point, the app sends the cyclist’s location (via GPS) to the traffic management center, which then turns the oncoming traffic light green. This initiative, which is being implemented globally, reduces wait times at red lights and enhances safety and efficiency for cyclists.
The Connected Bike initiative is not the first smart traffic system to be implemented in Miami-Dade by Siemens. In 2020, Siemens Mobility was awarded a $150 million contract by the county to upgrade 2,900 intersections and traffic corridors with a smart system that will change traffic patterns in real-time at traffic lights, using data supplied by sources at intersections and corridors throughout the city. The new system is intended to remediate traffic overloads and congestion and improve the overall flow of traffic in the city.
Doral and Dell team up
In 2020, the City of Doral partnered with Dell to develop a suite of smart city solutions. Using Dell’s technology, the city implemented hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) that has reinvented the residential and commercial experience in the city. Among the new tech implemented is new security measures, including the use of Dell devices integrated with license plate readers to deter crime.
Gladys Gonzalez, IT director for the City of Doral, reports that the plate readers “have already read more than 10 million license plates and identified 3 percent of them as concerns,” adding that the effort “will eventually encompass the city’s entire periphery.”
The Dell partnership’s “Quality of Place” initiative will see Doral implementing systems to provide environmental and background information to police officers responding to incidents, such as facial recognition, video analytics, and artificial intelligence tools. The smart systems have also reduced the workload of the city’s IT managers.
Doral, using Dell’s HCI tools, has implemented 40% of the Smart City technology measures identified by the National League of Cities; thanks to the initiative, Doral has been awarded ISO 37120 Platinum Certification three times and is one of the first cities in the world to be awarded the certification for its smart city initiatives.