The Story

Cities and communities around the world are entering the next era of transformational change in which citizens and their surrounding natural and built environments are increasingly connected by Smart Technologies. In the coming Smart City industrial revolution, Smart Technologies will widen the playing field to include greater participation of individuals and ideas from all walks of life as we reinvent who and what we are: Smart City St. Louis.

St. Louis has long been a city of great industry and entrepreneurial promise.  However, due to a large exodus of major corporations in the 1980’s and continuing to the present day, St. Louis has struggled to retain talented young people, grow new, innovative business ventures, and deal with less than effective economic policies. In addition, the region’s strained racial and socio-economic tensions have recently been ripped open in very public ways. Despite these challenges, an emerging startup community is beginning to thrive. Given St. Louis’ economic history and potential, a collaborative Smart City initiative that is truly inclusive and organically cuts across socio-economic boundaries would be truly transformative.

The Delmar Loop iNnovation Neighborhood Project DLiN

As an evolutionary improvement of the Brooking’s Institute innovation district model, the DLiN will engage the community, plan, design and activate an inclusive Smart Community Platform (the Delmar Loop iNnovation Neighborhood and Delmar Divide), that allows persons from all walks of life to participate in the digital innovation economy.  Build the platform across and through the Delmar Divide and into the inclusive heart and soul of St. Louis.

Develop the Smart City community platform as a prototype such that it can also be used at other locations around the St. Louis region.

How Does It Work

Concepts and ideas will be generated by the Delmar Loop community and the surrounding area, the central corridor innovation community, the higher ed, pre and K-16 communities and the Delmar Divide community – the target area ecosystem. As those ideas are developed into businesses and initiatives, they will be incubated and developed in an inclusive, open and diverse living lab environment along the Delmar Divide. Because of the diversity of ideas and possibility of collaboration among the Delmar-DivINe, Washington University in St. Louis School of Engineering and Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and, a deeper understanding will be reached related to technology adoption, as well as social, economic, education and community policy. As those concepts, ideas and businesses come to fruition, they will be demonstrated to the community at large on Art Hill.

Demonstration venues could include Smart City Night, entertainment venues and holidays, or special events such as Independence Day, Earth Day or Balloon Glow. Thousands of persons with hand held devices or tablets would attend. By demonstrating technological advancement in this manner, inclusive community adoption and engagement, entrepreneurial, research and educational interests and investment will be accelerated.

Community Value Proposition

In today’s digital economy, technology professionals work with software and data to create new opportunities every day. By providing talented people with easy access to education and entrepreneurial opportunity, cultural and recreational amenities, the target area Smart City community platform will allow St. Louis to achieve its socio-economic potential. The Smart City community platform will attract coders, creative organizations, entrepreneurs, Smart City and Internet of Things developers creating new inclusive socio-economic impact, research and education opportunity. Moreover, Forest Park Forever, and the Zoo-Museum District, will benefit from being able to engage the community in a new and exciting way, developing new programs whle engaging citizens.

For both local residents and young people from St. Louis and around the world, the Smart City community platform will set a new cornerstone for developing inclusive socio-economic progress and increasing social equity for technologically enabled communities around the globe. New jobs, research, education and funding opportunities will be created as the collaborative effort ignites organic community interest and innovation around the St. Louis area.

The Smart City community platform is a cost effective community solution that enables the St. Louis innovation community to realize inclusive sustainable socio-economic results. It will attract new residents and start-up companies from across the region, and from outside the St. Louis area, at a pace faster than is currently possible.

Our Research, Work and Progress to Date

The Loop Data Rail

A fiber optic cable was laid along Delmar Blvd and Debaliviere Ave. This fiber optic cable would be used to provide a high speed and high capacity, wireless canopy overlay to both the Delmar Loop iNnovation Neighborhood and Art Hill.

The infrastructure plan described in the St. Louis chapter of Smart Economy in Smart Cities, led to the development and construction of the St. Louis Regional Internet Exchange STL-RIX. The not for profit organization includes committees for peering and routing, Smart City and Internet of Things (IoT) services development and for the advancement of Digital Equity in our region. Google has completed construction of a “data island” that is being connected to STL-RIX and will cache content served to Google users in St Louis, reducing load times for the next local user who accesses the same information. When connected, the STL-IX could provide these infrastructure services to the Smart Community platform.

Three of our Smart City team members participated as authors in the St. Louis Chapter of Smart Economies for Smart CitiesThe team of five St. Louis co-authors describe a high level concept for connected innovation districts and innovation neighborhoods, utilizing an inclusive and improved entrepreneurial ecosystem process, economic impact assessment and measurement capability, and related infrastructure improvements.

An ongoing survey asking Why is Smart City Important To You has been published.

More than 130 civic and business leaders, involved citizens, and subject matter experts gathered on December 4, 2017 at the Dennis & Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center in Forest Park to further the discussion on advancing the St. Louis Delmar Loop community as a Smart City. Participants heard about the current efforts and developments ranging in the neighborhood and region as well as what is being done in Smart City technology nationally and internationally. Then they were invited to engage in a facilitated group exercise to advance thinking on how to approach Smart City development in a variety of focus areas.

It was based on the premise that the path to developing answers for Smart City development and execution in St. Louis begins with asking good questions. Groups were tasked with coming up with the questions they would ask the following: Workshop Report.

To initiate an ongoing community engagement and entrepreneurial business development cycle, members of our team and Washington University Skandalaris Center produced the Delmar Loop Social Impact Hackathon. This event produced three companies with unique entrepreneurial business plans including:

  1. The Feedback Loop is a community crossroads where artists North of Delmar, Loop businesses and Wash U students in art, marketing, technology meet and co-create. TFL integrates a multi-layered income process for sustainability, community growth and culture development, producing inclusive Loop events that proclaim, “This is Delmar.”
  2. GigaHub plans to cross the Delmar Divide by providing free internet access and free computers to every household that cannot access the internet. GigaHub plans to manufacture low cost computers through new Raspberry Pi technology and use local high school students to assemble them.
  3. For{loop} is a non-profit incubator with the purpose of bridging the economic divide across the Delmar Boulevard by encouraging investment in businesses led by underprivileged entrepreneurs. For{loop} accomplishes this through a pop-up shop program, where they plan to provide vacant lots on Delmar to entrepreneurs in the hopes that they gain experience and confidence in the development of their own business skills.