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Smart cities do not have to be LARGE cities

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Let's get this out of the way first. I had NO idea that Dubuque, Iowa, only had roughly 60,000 residents. That is about the size of Santa Cruz, Califo...

Let's get this out of the way first. I had NO idea that Dubuque, Iowa, only had roughly 60,000 residents. That is about the size of Santa Cruz, California, circa 1990 when I was living there among the redwoods. It is a size that is intimate, large enough for great cultural events, but also very manageable, which I loved.

The reason I bring this up is because it turns out Dubuque is pretty darn progressive as far as working on things to help it become "smart." This is all in the way of noting that the application of technologies that contribute toward a smarter planet are NOT the exclusive domain of mega-metropoli like New York or Amsterdam, although they are also doing wonderful things.

Back to Dubuque.

The city was one of several featured on an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tour of smart cities over the past week. Dubuque has apparently been focusing on sustainability since around 2006, because it figured it was a way to remain competitive economically. Being smart, the city's government gathered up a task force and came up with 11 "principles of sustainability." They involve focuses on the following (in no particular order):

  1. Regional Economy
  2. Smart Energy Use
  3. Smart Resource Use
  4. Community Design
  5. Green Building
  6. Healthy Local Food
  7. Community Knowledge
  8. Reasonable Mobility
  9. Healthy Air
  10. Clean Water
  11. Native Planets and Animals

More on the principles can be found at this link. Here's a link to the overall Dubuque sustainability project page.

Dubuque is hoping that some of the things that it learns will serve as a model for other cities with fewer than 200,000 population. It has tapped IBM to help with some of its technology needs. The first phase of this partnership will focus on technology for smarter energy consumption and for water management, with the aim of reducing costs associated with both and with managing the overall carbon footprint of the city's power usage. IBM is building out a "Platform for Real-time Integrated Sustainability Monitoring" to handle this management task. Incidentally, here is a report outlining the technology company's vision for Smart Cities.

Dubuque has turned to a local manufacturer, A.Y. McDonald, to work on its water management plan. It will be deploying technology called an Unmeasured Flow Reducer to better identify where water is being wasted. Overall information about water usage will be rolled up to a central reporting system using IBM technology. One immediate plan of action that Dubuque will adopt is a rebate system under which consumers and businesses will be able to receive matching funds to fix water system leaks, which are often the source of water waste.

If you're looking for more resources about smart cities planning, here is video that was just posted here on Smart Planet about ideas for making cities smarter. Enjoy.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure