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How Smart City Tech Delivers Safer, More Livable Places

A blank slate introduces a host of challenges and opportunities for newly-incorporated cities tomanage built assets, enhance planning and improve public safety. What if we showed you how Peachtree Corners, one of Georgia’s newest cities, went digital with operations partner Jacobs, to improve the quality of data used to support operations and citizen services and deliver better life for future generations?

Peachtree Corners at dusk

A century ago, the Eiffel Tower, at 984 feet, stood as the world’s-tallest structure, Boston suffered an odd disaster as two million gallons of spilled molasses poured into the streets at an estimated 35 miles per hour, alcohol was illegal, and movies were silent.

Just 100 years ago, the 17 miles of land that now make up the City of Peachtree Corners, Georgia, was just a dusty stop on the way to Atlanta – a farming settlement with a tavern, an inn, a church and a post office.

Today, Peachtree Corners – officially incorporated in 2012 – is the largest city in fast-growing Gwinnett County, and home to more than 45,000 residents, Fortune  500 businesses and high-tech companies.

While cities like London and Melbourne have rich histories that stretch back centuries, Peachtree Corners’ blank slate provided prime opportune to innovate right from the start.

Transforming an old farmland into a competitive, secure and livable city from the ground-up comes with its own set of unique challenges – from code enforcement and city services to traffic, land zoning and development.

But what if we showed you how Jacobs and the City of Peachtree Corners have infused citywide Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, bolstering smart, connected, inclusive, competitive, safe and resourceful benefits for an award-winning city?

35K+

assets captured, more than doubling what existed in previous database

251

smart parking sensors transforming citywide smart, connected solutions

We’re honored to be delivery partner for the City of Peachtree Corners, who has taken industry leadership implementing smart city innovative solutions that are efficient, cost-effective, scalable, replicable, intuitive and transformational.

Avi Patwardhan
Jacobs Managing Director of Smart Cities

A steady partnership’s humble beginnings

Originally developed in the 1970s as a planned community with a large office park and upscale residential neighborhoods, newly incorporated Peachtree Corners engaged us in 2013 to startup its first public services offering.

The community desired a higher level of code enforcement than it had received over the years prior to its incorporation. At the same time, many residents and businesses had become invested in non-conforming activities and structures, creating a challenging dynamic for code officials. The City needed an experienced team with strong interpersonal skills and expertise in initiating community change to facilitate the transition of services from Gwinnett County – and that’s where we came in.

We established citizen-friendly code enforcement procedures, customizing our approach to different issues with informative letters to address the more controversial and previously unenforced violations such as recreational vehicles parked in front yards. We tailored our approach to complement the City’s desire for an educational and informative process, recognizing the impact on residents and businesses of a higher level of code enforcement.

To address community-wide issues, we initiated monthly compliance reviews of apartment complexes, beginning with the oldest developments. We prioritized the top five neighborhoods with the most violations and focused on improving those areas, while responding to complaints throughout the City within 24 hours.

From there, our partnership only grew. Today, we provide a variety of services to Peachtree Corners, including code enforcement services; planning and zoning services; land development services; administrative services such as revenue collection, financial support, municipal court and general staff support; and smart city solutions.

From innovative asset management technology...

Streets, signs, guardrails, lighting and other built and installed assets require substantial staff resources to develop and administer.  When a new city such as Peachtree Corners is incorporated, the task can be monumental.

In 2015, City officials and management wanted to identify all assets located along roads and rights-of-way in the city limits, including signage, lighting, safety equipment, communications networks and emergency-response infrastructure. The trouble was, Peachtree Corners was relying on old and incomplete data Gwinnett County had gathered by visual count in the 1990s.

The City needed a fast, accurate and economical tool to assist with asset inventory and analysis. So, to improve street lighting, public safety and overall administrative efficiency, the City and Jacobs used LIDAR, a surveying technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser light, to compile comprehensive asset catalog for the City. By conducting a comprehensive survey, mapping and inventory of curbs, light poles, utilities and similar assets, Peachtree Corners found ways to upgrade lighting and walkability, speed up construction and manage people and projects more effectively.

Although LIDAR has been used to produce aerial views for years, no jurisdiction in Georgia had used it on the ground. Thanks to this innovative and relatively new process, the City captured all of its assets and used the technology to plan and design road and sidewalk improvements, and create asset-replacement schedules. Residents can use the data via GIS to view street-level imagery and identify the municipality’s assets relative to their property.

This unconventional use of an established technology can support similar data-gathering needs of municipalities and public agencies everywhere as they seek ways to manage costs and serve their constituencies effectively.

GIS of Peachtree Corners

…to data support that brings Peachtree Corners into the light…

In addition to capturing the city’s assets, we initiated a street-light enhancement program with Peachtree Corners that applies LIDAR data to locate and map areas in need of street lighting. Based on lighting data gathered in the analysis phase of the program, Peachtree Corners plans to install street lights in unlit or underlit areas.

More light enhances walkability and safety for residents and visitors, and in many locations throughout Peachtree Corners, bringing in more light is a simple matter of installing lights on existing utility poles. The local electric utility installs the lights, and the City has earmarked funds to operate them. Based on the LIDAR map data, Peachtree Corners’ City Council approved 25 new lights in 2016, and since has approved 100 more for future installation. Geospatial mapping and data gathering could lead to installation of up to 900 new lights. LIDAR maps and data used to identify and address lighting gaps also can support emergency response during power outages, enabling repair crews to locate problem areas and prioritize efforts.

… and smart, connected solutions for tomorrow

We’re also serving as the program manager for a proof of concept project for smart city solutions that the City plans to use as foundations for deploying these solutions across the community, such as parking (251 parking sensors), seven cameras, two digital signage systems, internet access (seven Wi-Fi gateways) and a command and control center analytics platform.

The technology’s smart parking sensors will allow drivers seeking parking to know the number of available parking spaces in the parking garage and on the surface streets. Wi-Fi connectivity will facilitate these monitoring opportunities and also provide accessibility to the public community. The Wi-Fi landing page will also allow the City to offer a calendar of town events, a listing of local eateries and information on things to do in the town, as well as information about safety information in the event of road closures or weather events.

Our team also worked with the City to develop a smart citizen mobile application, allowing citizens to use a single application for all City-related actions and services as opposed to a different application for each use case. The app includes parking, weather, emergency contacts, news, dining and entertainment, transit information and issues reporting modules.

In 2017, the American Council of Engineering Companies recognized Jacobs and the City of Peachtree Corners, Georgia, with a 2017 National Recognition Award for our partnership’s innovative application of advanced technology for infrastructure and asset management.

The Peachtree Corners asset inventory project is complete and more than 35,000 assets were captured in rights-of-way – more than double the number of assets in the city’s existing database! City leaders and planners continue to make the most of the data – identifying more uses and applications as the city’s ambitious plans unfold.

Interested in learning more about how Jacobs transforms intangible ideas into intelligent solutions for a more connected, sustainable world? Visit www.jacobs.com/what-if.

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