Smart Infrastructure Analysis
In the fall of 2019, Smart Communities Maine distributed a survey to Maine municipalities to better understand communities' smart infrastructure—the integration of digital information technologies within the physical, built environment to optimize citizen experience, sustainability, and public system performance. Our hope is that the results of this survey will help to craft a multi-organizational strategy and roadmap that will inform smart infrastructure investments, public policy, and economic development partnerships.
The Smart Communities Maine survey asked questions in five different categories of Smart Infrastructure: Energy & Electricity, Water & Waste, Mobility & Transportation, Health & Safety, and Information & Communications Technology. Representatives from 15 municipalities around the state participated in the survey. The map below highlights which elements of smart infrastructure were present in each community that responded to the survey.
“Energy & Electricity” includes smart street lighting, smart electricity meters and thermostats, microgrids, and smart grids. This category had the second-highest number of Smart Infrastructure elements across all respondents, with ten individual municipalities indicating the presence of elements in this category. 60% of those ten municipalities utilize LED street lighting, and most have LEDs in more than 75% of their lights. Smart electricity meters and smart thermostats in public facilities were present in four and five municipalities, respectively. Lewiston and Rangeley both indicated the use of a microgrid.
The “Health & Safety” category includes water and air quality sensors, crime mapping, and smart surveillance. This section had the smallest representation across municipalities, with only one city—Lewiston—indicating the presence of related Smart Infrastructure elements. Lewiston utilizes crime mapping as well as water quality sensors in Lake Auburn, its drinking water source.
The “Water & Waste” category of Smart Infrastructure—which includes smart trash cans, smart water and sewage meters, and water level sensors—had relatively low frequency, with only three out of 12 cities that responded to the section indicating the presence of specific elements. Each of those cities maintains unique elements, including smart trash containers in Portland, water level sensors in Hallowell, and smart water and sewage meters in Lewiston.
This section of Smart Infrastructure involves smart parking systems, public transit systems, and traffic signals, as well as transportation infrastructure sensors. Across all respondents, “Mobility & Transportation”-related Smart Infrastructure was indicated in three municipalities. Only one—Lewiston—utilizes smart parking systems. Lewiston also utilizes adaptive, “smart” traffic signals, as does Portland. Portland and Windham both utilize public transit tracking via mobile app, with Portland planning to unveil digital payment systems in the near future. Portland also indicated that it is laying the foundation for autonomous vehicles. Transportation infrastructure sensors are not yet adapted by any municipality that responded.
The “Information & Communications Technology” section refers to free wireless internet, open data portals, digital citizen services, and civic engagement applications. This category of Smart Infrastructure had the most elements across all municipalities that responded to the survey, with 12 cities indicating the presence of some InfoTech element. While no respondents currently use open data portals, 11 of the 12 utilize digital citizen services, and seven have free public WiFi available (largely in parks, libraries, and city/town public buildings).
Across respondents, Portland and Lewiston had the largest number of Smart Infrastructure elements present in their cities overall. Smart Infrastructure elements refer to distinct technologies or systems—for example, smart street lights or public WiFi—that are present in a city. Across all municipalities, there were the largest number of Smart Infrastructure elements represented in the “Information & Communications Technology” and “Energy & Electricity” categories; and the least in “Health & Safety.”
We also asked respondents to rank themselves on a scale of 0 to 100 regarding how they felt their Smart Infrastructure performance—general implementation and utilization—was compared to other Maine municipalities. Only two cities rated themselves better than average, five cities rated themselves at exactly average, and seven cities rated themselves below average. The self-rating seemed to have little correspondence with the actual number of smart infrastructure elements present in a city. For example, the city with the second-highest number of elements also rated itself "below average" on the self-assessment.