Many Arkansas cities are taking advantage of advances in technology to improve how they operate. On Tuesday, community leaders from around the state met in Little Rock to discuss what’s possible during a Smart Cities seminar.
The city of Mulberry, near Fort Smith, is an early adopter of such technologies. Mayor Gary Baxter says they recently bought smart water meters, which are more accurate than traditional water meters and send usage data through a wireless network.
"The investment is $315 per water meter and that sounds like an awful lot, however, the investment is good because it gives the customers the ability of early leak detection. By looking on their computer, on their iPhone, (residents will) have that capability of monitoring their usage," Baxter said.
It also allows the city of about 1,600 to have its employees working on other projects, Baxter says, rather than having to physically go out to read meters.
Little Rock Information Technology Director Randy Foshee says police, fire and code enforcement officials already use such technology, and they're considering additional services to help residents when problems arise.
"I think you’re going to see an improved app and some of those kinds of things in the future for reporting purposes that will come back with data to our citizens," Foshee said. "So if you log something using your smart device, it will notify you when that problem is resolved in real time, so that’s a positive thing coming."
Jon Blitz is with Verizon, which organized the conference. He says so-called Smart Cities solutions can save communities tax dollars through more efficient and sustainable practices.
"It’s more than just smart phones and tablets, it’s about monitoring information; water, taking a look at traffic light solutions, so what we do is, were introducing them to a lot of our partners from around the country that have these solutions and have implemented them already in cities throughout the country."