Connecting state and local government leaders

Las Vegas’ Smart City Approach Is More Than Just Dazzle

Michael Sherwood, city director of information technology, is focused on the big picture through the city’s tech test bed “Innovation District.”

Michael Sherwood, city director of information technology, is focused on the big picture through the city’s tech test bed “Innovation District.” Shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

2018 NAVIGATOR AWARD WINNER: Michael Sherwood, Director of Information Technology, City of Las Vegas, Nevada

This is the fourth in a series of 10 profiles on the individuals and teams who were named 2018 Route Fifty Navigator Award winners

Like many things associated with Las Vegas, the city’s growing information technology backbone is a spectacle to behold. Unlike most of the spectacles you'll find on the strip, though, this one is squarely focused on the practical.

While many cities have focused on singular "smart" technologies to save money and time—or to simply check the smart tech box—Michael Sherwood, city director of information technology, is focused on the big picture through the city’s tech test bed “Innovation District.”

The autonomous vehicle pilot program, a free self-driving public shuttle that takes both tourists and residents around the city, has gotten a great deal of attention. The hope of Sherwood and the city council is that the shuttles will lead to a vibrant public transit system.

But the shuttle is just a small part of an ever-growing, less visible technological network the city is developing. The shuttle is integrated into the city’s intelligent traffic systems, which is a growing technological mesh worth exploring in its own right. Sherwood’s team has put in place over 20 technology projects, and he intends them all to work in a manner that amplifies the others. Data from sensors count vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic. They time traffic lights, pinpoint gunshots, and monitor trash levels.

The wide array of data collected has made Las Vegas’ open data portal among top three in the nation over the past few years as rated by the the U.S. Open Data Census. But this broad array of sensors and smart technology do not just remain siloed off or simply take up space in a database. Sherwood and team are ensuring all the data collected is integrated and actionable.

“I look at it as: Data is the new oil . . . You can refine it,” Sherwood told Route Fifty last year. Sherwood is using artificial intelligence to monitor data from sensors in real-time. It allows him to quickly identify problems and resolve them quickly. As the city becomes more reliant on “smart” solutions, that ability becomes increasingly vital.

“Cities like ours are technology dependent, meaning the patience for downtime is extremely low now,” he told Route Fifty back in August. Ultimately, he is hoping for artificial intelligence to help repair outages on its own, self-diagnosing issues with the web of sensors and executing software patches.

Mitch Herckis is Senior Editor and Director of Strategic Initiatives for Government Executive’s Route Fifty.

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