Washington, DC

Washington, DC

Getting Smart in The Nation’s Capital

Through gigabit internet access, creative ideas, and a commitment to solving local challenges, DC is keeping pace with the world’s rapidly upgrading technology and changing economy maintaining its reputation as a major city on the global stage.


Though known for being the nerve center of government in the United States, Washington, DC, is more than just the place where policies are made. As a major city with a significantly-sized population, a dynamic workforce, and visitors from all around the world, DC is bustling and busy—which means it has significant needs with regards to infrastructure and public works. Things move fast in the District of Columbia, but do they move efficiently?

That’s the question DC city government and local universities are hoping to answer, in the affirmative, by making a significant commitment toward embracing next-generation internet technologies for the public good. In order to improve quality of life for residents and enhance economic growth, the mission is clear: leverage the interplay of connected devices, sensors, and data analytics, all brought together by intelligent city infrastructure. DC can be a truly smart city, not just a city where smart people live.

Many applications utilizing advanced wireless technology are already in the implementation stage. Some, such as SmarterDC’s water quality monitoring project (in partnership with DC Water, the local water utility) are in the concept phase. Imagine a network of water quality sensing devices that will ensure consistent and reliable drinking water across DC. Smart sensors will notify the operations center in real-time with quality control issues, allowing DC Water to respond quickly, before customers are impacted.

When this idea comes to fruition, it will make a major impact—and that’s just one of the many incredible real-world opportunities this technology represents in the nation’s capital. DC is currently leading the charge for expansion of the Startup in Residence (STIR) program, which produces digital solutions to civic challenges through collaborations between startups and city departments. The initiative originated in San Francisco (another SGC), which has served as an anchor for STIR since 2014, helping nearby California cities to grow the program as well. Working in close collaboration with San Francisco, DC hopes to become a similar hub for the East Coast, leading the creation of apps and tools for cities by focusing a team of entrepreneurs and departments on the problems that need to be solved.

Featured Project: #PA2040

The PA 2040 project will provide a better, more rewarding experience to everyone who uses the west Pennsylvania Avenue corridor—visitors, workers, residents, and businesses, as well as the local and federal governments. The foundation for the system is envisioned as a pervasive mesh Wi-Fi network. The Wi-Fi will serve to provide free internet access to the public, secure services to public safety entities, and extend connectivity for environmental sensors. In addition, the Light Sensory Network will bring advanced wireless networking, advanced sensors (e.g., video), and edge-based processing of real-time street data to the LED streetlights to solve parking, traffic, public safety, and street operations and maintenance issues on the corridor.