San Mateo County launches ‘smart city’ lab

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Did you know that San Mateo County has a lab?

Not a Doctor Frankenstein sort of lab.  A “smart city” lab.  And it’s brand new.

SMC Labs was just launched by the County to tackle issues like parking, pollution, commuting and energy efficiency using smart technologies like “the Internet of Things, machine learning, big data and blockchain.”

In announcing the new lab, Jon Walton, Chief Information Officer for the county, said, “Housing, traffic, mobility and environmental issues don’t stop at city borders.  Regional problems require a borderless approach, and the County of San Mateo is uniquely positioned to address these issues.  We laid the groundwork last year when we started deploying a countywide fiber and public Wi-Fi network as the first step toward a Digital San Mateo County.  SMC Labs is the next step of this journey.”

That means asking what to do about:  “parking availability for electric vehicles and disabled parking spots; irrigation water conservation with smart moisture sensors; smart mobility, ride sharing, last mile commuting; localized air quality and environmental monitoring;” – and, using the power of technology, coming up with solutions tailored to San Mateo County.

“Despite being located in the heart of Silicon Valley, there are two very different populations in San Mateo County,” said Ulysses Vinson, Chief Smart Communities Officer for the county.  “One is technology-savvy and lives in the larger, resource-rich cities.  The other includes smaller suburban and underserved rural communities with limited digital infrastructure.  My goal is to bring innovative solutions from SMC Labs to serve all San Mateo County residents, leaving no one behind.”

Before anything goes county-wide though, two “test” zones have been set up, one at the San Mateo County Center campus in Redwood City, and the other at City Hall in East Palo Alto – so there will be plenty of opportunity to experiment, test, learn and improve.