San Antonio announces innovation zones, a proving ground for smart city tech

Three recently selected areas of the city will allow officials to test how new technologies perform on a small scale before seeking potential citywide projects.

The City of San Antonio has announced plans to create three innovation zones as part of its smart city initiative that uses civic technology to help local government operate more effectively, and solve municipal challenges.

The plan, unveiled during a city council meeting on June 6, will create innovation zones in the Brooks neighborhood, a 1,308 acre mixed-use community in the city’s southeast quadrant, the medical center area to the city’s northwest, and downtown.

Innovation zones are designated spaces where cities can test civic technology, like drones and public Wi-Fi, before scaling it for the rest of the city.

“We see the innovation zones as a real-world proving ground for the pilot smart city technology that we’re testing,” said Jose De La Cruz, chief innovation officer of San Antonio. “The zones are really the next phase in our overall smart city strategy.”


The three zones were chosen using several criteria, including the availability of assets and infrastructure in the areas, and which locations had a mix of “live, work, and play options.” The areas selected for the innovation zones were also identified by officials as up and coming neighborhoods in San Antonio.

According to De La Cruz, some of the challenges that the city hopes to address within the zones are the efficient movement of people and goods, the use of autonomous vehicles, flooding and drainage, and the availability of public Wi-Fi.

The announcement of San Antonio’s innovation zones comes as dozens of cities across the country also create hubs for innovation. Recently, Kansas City, Las Vegas , and Denver have all undertaken similar projects.

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