The Arizona State University Smart City Cloud Innovation Lab was named the winner of the Civic Engagement award from the IDC 2021 Smart Cities North America Awards.
The awards recognize cities across North America for implementing smart cities projects, in order to share best practices and highlight the advancement of smart city developments.
The lab, which operates out of ASU’s SkySong Center in Scottsdale, allows cities to submit a challenge on its website that will solve a pressing community or regional problem around the Phoenix metro area.
The innovation center provides a one-stop shop for design, development and creation of a prototype for challenges. This gives cities in the Valley the opportunity to innovate and explore problems without using a ton of resources. The lab also brings together the public and private sectors to co-develop projects with ASU, and shares information to create innovative solutions.
Since opening in 2019, the innovation center has completed 19 challenges, including development of a 311 chatbot for the city of Phoenix and a self-service portal to apply for utility and eviction assistance.
“What we look to do is bring to light the variety and interesting types of projects done by cities, counties, states and educational institutions [that are] using technology in innovative ways and using emerging technologies,” Ruthbea Yesner, vice president of IDC Government Insights and Smart Cities and Communities Strategies, told Smart Cities Dive. “There is innovation in local government and there are exciting things happening, and they are really focused on equity and accessibility and serving the public.”
Award winners don’t receive a monetary reward, but they are selected by smart city experts and the public, which still brings a sense of satisfaction.
“This is about community-building and learning and connecting people,” Yesner told Smart Cities Dive. “There’s so much activity out there … and we learn from each other.”