Making Your City Smarter Isn’t as Hard as You Think

Making Your City Smarter Isn’t as Hard as You Think

Smart city is the new buzzword when it comes to urban development. Cities around the world are looking at ways to transform into the next technologically advanced city.

As was discussed in a previous blog, more people are moving into cities again and those people want information. And who can blame them? Our society now can share information rapidly. Information that was once limited to only small group of people now can be seen by thousands, all within a matter of seconds.

Of course, with every positive of the smart city and massive sharing of information there are the negatives. With the ever-growing big brother concerns that the world is turning into a 1984 society, people want to know that their safety is not of a concern.

So how can you take steps to make your city smarter all while keeping the best interests of your residents?

Bluetooth beacons for the RNC
This past July, Cleveland hosted the Republican National Convention. Knowing that people would want information, Bluetooth beacons were deployed across the city by a local startup, inTouch, to deliver messages. In addition to city wide beacons, many local restaurants had received beacons months prior to start building a local user base.

Using the inTouch content management system, the beacons would send out short messages to users when they were nearby, and only to users who already had downloaded the required inTouch application. These messages ranged from local specials from restaurants to historical facts about various downtown Cleveland buildings.

Not only did the RNC increase Cleveland’s international visibility it also provided the opportunity to make Cleveland a smart city.

Local support, improving technology
One of the biggest aspects of creating the smart city is setting up an infrastructure. That can be challenging when you considered the amount of time required to set something like this up, on top of the ongoing maintenance.

With the ever-growing presence of the RNC coming, inTouch was speaking with local businesses to get them on board long before the snow had melted. Working with Destination Cleveland, these beacons will continue to be used not only for the inTouch application, but Destination Cleveland’s as well.

“One of the main goals of our app is to enhance the experience of visitors to the City of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio,” says Drew Shipley, Manager of Web Administration & Digital Marketing for Destination Cleveland. “We currently use beacons and GEO/GPS locations to provide a more unique experience for each individual user as they travel throughout Greater Cleveland. The inTouch network will provide us with even more opportunities and locations to interact with users.”

The future of Cleveland’s smart city
Moving into 2017, beacons will continue to be deployed around the city. With a beacon infrastructure continually growing and being available, Shipley says that will help eliminate some hurdles that may prevent an origination from utilizing the technology, along with some extra benefits for Cleveland.

“An existing network could be another asset that we could use to differentiate Cleveland from other cities when promoting Cleveland as a destination to host meetings and conventions, such as the RNC,” says Shipley.

In addition, the beacons will be able to collect location aware user analytics anytime a user comes into range. This will play a large part in better understanding user patterns, something that Destination Cleveland agrees is worth having. Analyzing data trends, Shipley says, will help improve everything from recommendations to users to identifying traffic patterns.

And since only users who have the app receive the messages, non-users don’t have to worry about receiving any information that they would prefer to not have.

Making a city smarter allows for the city to share not only important information but also for residents to know more about their city’s history, events, and can even draw more national attention to your city. And thanks to Bluetooth beacons and connected smartphone apps, cities can find new ways to connect with their residents, on their residents’ terms.

About the Author

Erin Walker is an Account Director at inTouch. inTouch is a software development company that connects the physical world with the digital world. Utilizing Bluetooth beacon technology, inTouch develops smartphone apps that can be used for businesses ranging from cities to the local museum. To learn more visit

About the Author

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