San Diego and Marines to collaborate on ‘smart city’ initiatives

Projects will include energy-efficiency programs, drone policy and internet-connected streetlights.
Marines, San Diego
Recruits with Alpha Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, march during a final drill evaluation at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Dec. 22, 2018. (DOD photo / Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jesula Jeanlouis)

San Diego officials have announced an agreement with the U.S. Marine Corps to work on “smart city” programs, including the installation of internet-connected streetlights, energy and water initiatives and the testing of unmanned aerial vehicles around the city. Mayor Kevin Faulkner announced the deal Thursday alongside Maj. Gen. Vincent A. Coglianese, the commander of Marine Corps Installations Command.

Under the terms of the memorandum of understanding between San Diego and the Marines, officials from the city and the service branch will meet regularly to “foster collaborations between the parties on ‘smart city’ topics of mutual interest in support of each organizations’ respective goals in the areas of protection, resilience, maintenance, mobility, operational reach and community.”

San Diego and the military are already entwined, with defense-related spending accounting for 20 percent of the city’s gross regional product, including 140,000 uniformed personnel and civilian workers.

“We’re building on the long tradition of collaboration between the U.S. military and the City of San Diego and taking that partnership to the next level for the betterment of the San Diego region,” Faulconer said in a press release. “We will share our experiences, share our discoveries, and share how advanced technology can benefit the people we serve.”


The agreement between San Diego and the Marines references several projects already underway that could be shared between the parties, including renewable-energy and water-conservation projects at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, which houses 15,000 service members and their families. The projects include installing new solar panel fields and other infrastructure to make the base independent from the surrounding grid and water-reuse equipment.

San Diego officials said the city will contribute to the partnership with some of its own recent initiatives, including the 2017 installation of more than 3,200 internet-connected streetlights outfitted with sensors that collect environmental and transportation data, and a government-backed mobile app launched in 2016 that allows residents to submit neighborhood issues, like potholes, to city hall.

The city and the Marines also said they plan to collaborate on the development of aerial drones. San Diego was one of ten state and local governments chosen last year to participate in a Federal Aviation Administration pilot program to develop drone-use policy.

Benjamin Freed

Written by Benjamin Freed

Benjamin Freed was the managing editor of StateScoop and EdScoop, covering cybersecurity issues affecting state and local governments across the country. He wrote extensively about ransomware, election security and the federal government’s role in assisting states and cities with information security.

Latest Podcasts