Seat Pleasant was known in its early days as Chesapeake Junction, as it was the home of the first Chesapeake Beach Railway station. The city’s fortunes have long been tied to travel, first to the railway, which brought enough growth for incorporation in the 1930s before it closed down, and then to the George Palmer Highway, later renamed the Martin Luther King Jr. Highway. Seat Pleasant has suffered from many of the troubles common to small cities in semi-rural areas, such as low access to broadband connectivity and difficulties connecting people with other services. But like its early namesake, the city aims to become a new sort of junction in the modern world, a place where people and services connect to bring growth and hope to a stronger community.
Creating Partnerships through the Center for Government Synergism
Due to its small size, Seat Pleasant has limited resources and has therefore focused on making best use of what it has available. The City government created The Center for Government Synergism (CGS) in 2017 to promote easy cooperation between government, businesses, non-profits, educational institutions and all citizens. CGS uses data sharing, including that collected by IoT sensors, to help with all levels of decision making for the city. Since its establishment, CGS has directed the creation of the “My Seat Pleasant” app connected to a Smart City Platform titled “The Shared Services Hub.” The “My Seat Pleasant” app provides Seat Pleasant residents, businesses and city employees with multiple online features, including services requests, a library of city codes, a city document library, city directory, on-demand broadcast notifications, garbage/recycling and snow removal schedules, city job listings, an online payment portal and event and activity listings. With access to so much more data through the app, citizens and businesses are kept informed and are provided with easy ways to connect with the government and share opinions and suggestions for future legislation and other efforts.
Becoming a Test Bed of Innovation
To encourage innovation and outside investment, Seat Pleasant has branded itself the “Test Bed of Innovation,” by providing support for start-ups and established companies wishing to test new technologies and solutions. Since rebranding, the City has become host to several pilot projects, including a partnership between AECOM, Verizon and PEPCO to set up smart street light project for energy savings and intelligent traffic and public safety solutions. Another pilot project, established in partnership with the Greater Washington Board of Trade, has created digital city kiosks throughout Seat Pleasant to provide additional information to supplement the “My Seat Pleasant” app. A local IoT company, WIOMAX, in partnership with the NIST GCTC Project, launched a pilot project in Seat Pleasant for traffic management solutions, aiming to optimize the flow of vehicle, pedestrian and cyclist traffic at key intersections throughout the city.
Providing Education and Health Services for the Chronically Underserved
The City has taken further steps as the “Test Bed of Innovation” by partnering with local education institutions to create a Smart Cities Curriculum for adult retraining and advancement at Prince George’s Community College and a Remote Health Monitoring Program in partnership with the same institution and Harrisburg University. The Smart Cities Curriculum provides training in business process improvement and a high-level overview of cyber-physical systems, sensor technologies, cloud computing, data storage, data mining and business analytics as well as security and privacy challenges related to IoT. The course also explores how digital devices and data analytics can serve the needs of businesses and society and how city government can make use of data visualization to make intelligent economic and strategic decisions. Upon completing the course, students earn a certification that qualifies them for entry-level technology jobs in the Smart City space.
Seat Pleasant’s Remote Health Monitoring (RHM) program aims to promote wellness and provide access to timely, necessary health care services for aging citizens and those with disabilities. The RHM program focuses on using remote patient monitoring technology, assistive technologies, wearable IoT devices and connected devices. The data provided by these devices inform caregivers of any serious issues in time to act while allowing the residents wearing them to go about their daily lives comfortably and independently.
To further facilitate these programs and others, Seat Pleasant is leveraging its designations as an Opportunity Zone and a distressed community to access programs such as the FCC’s Lifeline program in an effort to promote greater broadband adoption. The City is also working to deploy 5G and city-wide Wifi services free of charge for impoverished citizens to support its many innovative programs. Connecting citizens, government and local businesses is at the heart of Seat Pleasant’s Intelligent Community journey, and the city strives every day to strengthen those connections for a more prosperous future.
Photo by Famartin. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.