We’re coming up on the annual submission deadline for the Smart 50 Awards honoring the most transformative smart projects of the year. And in an effort to offer some last-minute inspiration, we’re taking a look at what a few of the winners from the last cohort of Smart 50 awardees are doing today.

Reminder: Submissions for the 2019 Smart 50 Awards are due November 9. Click to enter.


The city of Austin, also a member of US Ignite’s Smart Gigabit Communities (SGC)network, won recognition in the Smart 50 Awards Energy category last spring for a project by Doosan GridTech and Austin Energy designed to optimize distributed energy resources. Called Austin SHINES – for Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV – the initiative will analyze models for integrating renewable energy and energy storage options with the existing power grid.

Since winning a Smart 50 Award, Austin SHINES has also gone on to earn a Grid Edge Innovation Award from Greentech Media, and is now entering the testing phase for its Distributed Energy Resource Optimizer (DERO) software platform. The software connects to multiple distributed energy sources (including utility-scale storage systems, rooftop solar installations, and more), and will examine several use cases for optimization. The Austin team is looking at dynamic pricing, peak energy load reduction, and measures of reliability around voltage support and congestion management. All of these will be important for adding more renewable energy into the grid and making the most of energy resources across the board.

Ypsilanti Fire Station Solar Installation

The city of Ypsilanti in Michigan won a Smart 50 Award in the Community category for converting a local fire station to solar power, part of its SolarYpsi effort. Volunteers installed 176 285W SolarWorld solar panels on the roof of the building, which a professional contractor then connected to the station’s electrical system.

So far this year, the new solar system has already produced 49.34 Megawatt hours of electricity, with natural production peaks taking place in the late spring and summer months. That means the fire station is operating largely on renewable energy, and has reduced its electricity bill to near zero.


San Diego Smart Streetlights

San Diego (another SGC community) won a Smart 50 Networks Award for its deployment of the world’s largest network of IoT sensors on city streetlights. In partnership with Current by GE and AT&T, the city is installing 3,200 intelligent nodes that not only enable smart lighting controls, but can also collect data on parking, traffic, public safety, and air quality.

Today, the city of San Diego has a public dashboard that displays the data collected by the streetlight nodes in dozens of graphs. Citizens and government officials can examine traffic speeds by hour of day, or revenue collected at different parking meters. There are graphs for pedestrian counts, humidity rates, parking availability, and more.