Council discusses goals of ‘smart cities’

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — To better understand future costs associated with Lima’s smart cities initiative, Lima City Council’s finance committee met last week to discuss how the city is looking to take advantage of the program to create efficiencies between departments.

Unlike smart city initiatives undertaken by other Ohio cities, Lima’s program is meant to remove a number of the 55 technological silos that restrict each department’s computer systems from sharing information.

“They define smart cities in a much different way. For us being smart, it’s about communication, not transportation,” Mayor David Berger said.

Councilor Sam McLean called for the meeting to get a better idea of where the city is headed in regard to the project and to lay out future expenditures.

“The big picture to me, overall, is when people out on the streets ask me about it, I go, ‘Uh, that’s that normalization stuff.’ That’s not a good enough answer to my people. Its just not. I want to be able to tell them what we’re doing,” McLean said.

Council recently approved a $457,000 expenditure that would normalize the incident data used between the Lima Police Department and Municipal Court, which would help the departments better communicate.

As for past projects already taking advantage of such efficiencies brought by the initiative, Berger gave the example of marrying the city’s phone system with the Lima utility department. Due to the change, automated calls now go out when someone is late in paying their water bill, which has cut the number of overdue customers by 50 percent — a major saving in manpower and time, Berger said. A similar move could help decrease the number of “failure-to-appear” cases in the city’s municipal and traffic courts.

The initiative has also helped establish the SeeClickFix app, which allows city residents to report issues that need addressed. While the system is currently online, the city still has work to do to better integrate the app with its current work order processes. Such a fix — another goal of the initiative — is still a year out, Chief of Staff Sharetta Smith said.

“Without having systems that don’t speak to one another, we’re doing a disservice to our customers and the citizens in our area,” Councilor Jamie Dixon said.

“There’s a learning curve to it. The administration has been been pretty deep in this. We’ve been brought in. We’re not dealing with it day to day like they are. We don’t see the inefficiencies of the current system,” Council President John Nixon said.

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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