Washington-state county hunts down partners for smart county initiative

The smart city movement is being adopted by a growing number cities, and now — a county.

Cities everywhere are trying to be smart, Illinois calls itself the first smart state, and now just north of Seattle, Snohomish County, Washington, is building a smart county.

Seated by Everett, Washington, Snohomish County announced Tuesday plans to draw economic growth to the region and improve connectivity to all residents through the deployment of technology and new partnerships. A request for information (RFI) issued by the county’s Department of Information Technology requests details on potential public-private partnerships for both the county’s rural and urban areas for review by July 12.

“Technology is a large part of everyday life. After seeing the innovative ways that others use technology, I realized that there was an opportunity for Snohomish County to do something similar,” said County Executive Dave Somers in a press release. “The establishment of a Smart County would allow for the application of technology in a way that provides convenience and better service for all of our residents.”

Designing plans after the smart city model, county officials said they don’t want to be too specific about what they’re looking for, because they don’t want to limit the types of ideas presented by vendors or other organizations. The county is open to “all ideas” according to the RFI, including “integrated information and communications technology, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and data, publicly deployed infrastructure, rural broadband capacity, urban informatics and data analytics, mobile/civic applications, sensor-based networks, and/or urban wireless networks (including 5g).”


One of the challenges the county will face is in finding solutions that balance the needs of its rural residents with those living in its high-tech urban regions, county Chief Information Officer and IT Director Trever Esko told StateScoop. Another will be forming policy that can ensure the region gets the most from whatever partnership opportunities are presented.

“If you start thinking about the things that we see coming on the horizon five to ten years out, like self-driving cars, and those things that come with it, we think about the road infrastructure that might be needed for that, but you don’t always think about the traffic control capabilities that you might embed into traffic lights and traffic monitoring systems and wireless networking that could support that in a better way,” Esko said. “It’s a matter of figuring out how to marry up that emerging infrastructure with the emerging services and how government can play a role in enabling both of those.”

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