Creating ‘smart cities’: Normal provides update on innovation, technology | Politics

Creating 'smart cities': Normal provides update on innovation, technology | Politics

NORMAL — What makes a smart city?

The idea — creating a comprehensive technology infrastructure that promotes city efficiency while providing accessible resources and services — can mean something different to a city or town based on its community needs.

“It’s not so much about the definition as much as it is about the philosophy,” said Vasu Gadhiraju, director of Normal’s Innovation and Technology department. “When we talk about smart cities, smart cities means a lot of different things to other communities.”

Normal started its smart city journey when it adopted the initiative into its comprehensive plan in 2017. In August 2019, the town brought it Gadhiraju, who has lead the charge in identifying town needs and a reorganization of the Innovation and Technology Department.

Since then, Gadhiraju and her team identified hundreds of needs within the town, including operations efficiencies, data and analytics.

The town, she said, has a “gold mine” of data opportunities that can provide business insights, not only for town officials, but also to the public. This includes business licenses, permits and more that can be made more accessible.

“We would want to publish as much data as we can to make sure people have access to data and information that they now have to request through the town,” said Gadhiraju. “

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