Smart Solutions for Smart City Planning

Incorporating Smart City concepts into your city or community offers you the opportunity to make an impact and improve upon the lives of those who live and work there every day. Pennoni has been an early adopter and market leader of Smart City concepts and new technologies which we label “Smart Solutions”. Unlike other trends that have come and gone in the past, technology will never stop evolving.

Pennoni has adopted numerous smart technologies in-house, in our civil and infrastructure markets and in energy. As new technologies develop in the smart space, we continuously vet these innovations for turnkey application for our clients. With the support of our continuously evolving list of “channel partners”, we continue to introduce these technologies to our clients and apply them to their projects. To help guide smart solutions design efforts, our team works with stakeholders to review any prior planning documents to gain an understanding on how these smart solutions can improve outcomes.

The following video highlights some of smart technologies we feel should be considered as part of smart city planning.

Fiber Communication System Backbone

Communication system infrastructure such as fiber optic, sensors, etc., will be essential to activate “smart solutions” within an overarching Smart City initiative. By putting a system in place to utilize sensor and communication technologies, millions of data points can be collected daily for various smart city initiatives to drive data driven decisions and efficiencies. This data can be monetized into a revenue source. Both the public and private sector are moving quickly into the 5G space which will allow data to move much more quickly and effectively. Adapting existing downtown areas to enable a 5G network can be challenging. Developers and future residents will look to invest and live in cities that have a plan to achieve strategic smart city outcomes and have invested in the necessary technologies. The availability of a fiber and communication system backbone is a major selling point and a differentiator over other cities.

After 5G there will be other future generations of connectivity. For that reason, and because of unknown technologies that have yet to be developed, it’s worth considering incorporating multiple communication system conduit banks below the street during the reconstruction process for future deployment. These duct banks will not only eliminate the need to open streets in the future, leading to traffic interruptions and utility conflicts, but they can be future revenue sources.

Smart Traffic Signals

Traffic signal technology is changing very rapidly as we move into the Autonomous Vehicle (AV) space. Signals today can not only recognize vehicle movement but also pedestrians, bikes, scooters, etc. Through our channel partnerships we can develop and design a master plan for signalization to connect to the fiber network, and have signals communicate with each other and with vehicles as the technology evolves. One of our channel partners has developed the capability to install “virtual” traffic signals at intersections that are not currently signalized saving the cost of mast arms, controllers, cameras, and signal heads.

Smart signals can also improve our environment. How many times have we sat at an intersection as the only car and seem to wait endlessly for the signal to change while our vehicle idles? The smart signal changes with the traffic volume thus reducing travel times and saving tons of carbon dioxide being released into the air.

Intelligent Information Systems

Drivers, bicyclists, scooters, and pedestrians will all rely on digital message boards to relay real time messages. For example, these digital reader boards will have the capability to quickly redirect drivers based on changing conditions and allow pedestrians to obtain current information from interactive kiosks.

Smart Streetlights

With the proper sensor controls a smart LED streetlight can dim, change colors to accommodate changing seasons or holidays, light up when it senses motion and dim when it does not, collect traffic volumes, count pedestrians and bikes, and collect weather information. This list of capabilities continues to grow as new technologies are being developed. This is another area that cities are monetizing in several ways. For example, we have channel partners that will underwrite the installation costs in exchange for future electric savings and the data collected by the sensors can later be sold.

Smart Parking

As businesses, shoppers, and residents need to be directed to a parking space as effectively as possible. To best accommodate these needs, many cities are adopting smart parking, and this is becoming an expected option for travelers. A city district cannot be smart if it does not offer smart parking. Like the smart traffic signal above, smart parking, will reduce air emissions by eliminating the need to endlessly circle a block to find a space.

Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations

As we move into the future, more and more consumers will choose EVs, and all AVs will be EVs. Strong consideration should be given to how many and where EV charging stations should be located. To address this need, we have a channel partner that has developed the ability to “rapidly charge” both passenger cars and buses. As the future unfolds, buses will also be electric and efficiently charging them will be of prime concern.

Smart Storm Sewers

Storm sewer systems are being equipped with sensors today to optimize their capacity. Many communities face flooding concerns, especially in areas that are prone to hurricanes and to the effects of larger and more frequent storms resulting from changes to our climate. Pennoni can work with one of our specialized channel partners to study the storm sewer network and develop recommendations for a sensor system that includes weather stations that will deliver “real time” weather data to the piping and storage system providing optimal value.

Intelligent Pavement Management

Pennoni uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology through one of our channel partners to develop an overall strategy for street rehabilitation. The data collected allows for the prioritization of roads that need the most attention and can then be used to create the needed repair schedules and budgets. Using AI, the identification of improvement needs becomes an objective process, rather than many of the more subjective techniques currently used. Traffic volumes, truck routes, etc., can be overlayed to further enhance our analyses of roadway conditions to help in the decision making process.

Intelligent Site Design

Using state of the art software, we can work with our clients to develop various site design alternatives for vacant parcels, ocuupied sites to be redeveloped, parks, road improvement scenarios, and many other proposed  improvements. The software allows us to sit with our clients and stakeholders to review a variety of alternatives in real time. Cost estimates can also be deveoped for each concept to show the effects of changes made as new alternatives are put forth for discussion.

Digital Twin

he creation of “digital twin” of your infrastructure network can be done by incorporating the 3-dimensional design drawings of each project into a GIS, asset management platform. The digital twin becomes a living document that can follow infrastructure upgrades as they are made in the future, providing an economic advantage with future projects as all infrastructure elements will be in the 3-dimensional model.

Joseph Viscuso

If you would like more information on smart solutions, please contact Joe at

Joe serves as Director of Strategic Growth which includes involvement in all new initiatives and technologies at Pennoni. He is active in the Smart City Council and is a member of the Urban Mobility Task Force. He has spoken at various industry events on the use of innovative smart solutions. 


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