DIA Unveils Vision for Living Lab in West End

living lab


This post was updated at 11:15 a.m. June 30. 

The Dallas Innovation Alliance on Wednesday unveiled its vision for its living lab in the West End Historic District of downtown Dallas known as the Dallas Innovation District.

Dallas Smart City

Jennifer Sanders presented the West End Project at The DEC Wednesday evening. [Photo by Jana J. Pruet]

DIA, a public-private partnership dedicated to the design and execution of the smart cities plan in Dallas, unveiled the vision in the form of concept renderings from BOKA Powell and a virtual reality experience from Dallas-based agency 900lbs of Creative that show what the West End looks like today and what it will look like once smart elements are incorporated into the area in the months ahead.


“The Dallas Innovation Alliance is thrilled to share its vision and projects for the living lab in the West End District in downtown Dallas,” DIA Executive Director Jennifer Sanders said in a release.  “Through a best minds approach and collaboration with our partners, we believe these elements, and others to come, provide a strong proof of concept in addressing the challenges that Dallas, and cities around the world, are facing.”

In 2015, Dallas was selected as one of 10 cities in the first Envision America program that was announced at the White House.

The DIA said it will address key challenges that the city of Dallas will face, as will other cities worldwide.

Those challenges include aging infrastructure, strained natural and fiscal resources, and increased density in the urban center, while simultaneously providing the technology and connectivity needed to power the future for Dallas’ residents.

The DIA  said its definition of a smart city is one where “technological and social infrastructures accelerate sustainable economic development, conserves resources and improves the quality of life for its citizens.”

According to the DIA, The West End living lab will include smart city elements that include:

  1. Intelligent LED Lighting: Street lights along Market Street will be converted to LED, and sensors measuring environmental levels, including air quality, and crowd/noise detection will be installed. 
  2. Interactive Digital Kiosks: A series of kiosks will be established in the West End that will provide a key focal point for citizen engagement, alongside the delivery of public services, provision of public Wi-Fi, USB charging stations, emergency services, and wayfinding/transit options. Additional open source platform possible to provide a key application allowing for direct engagement with the city, events, and services. Exact components of the hardware, and of the internal software can be customized to fit Dallas’ needs. 
  3. Network Connectivity: Fiber and cellular networks will provide full coverage, powering the living lab.
  4. Public Wi-Fi will be available in the West End living lab.
  5. Smart Parking: Infrastructure will be installed allowing for monitoring and visibility into available parking options, with the potential to locate and reserve parking ahead of time. Benefits include an improved citizen experience, increased parking utilization rates, and decreased traffic congestion/CO2 emissions. A large proportion of urban congestion is directly related to cars looking for parking.
  6. End-to-End Mobility App: Working with key partners, the Dallas Innovation Alliance will facilitate an end-to-end mobility application, allowing citizens a single point solution, incorporating all modes of transit including mass transit, car, rideshare, bike sharing, walking, and smart parking solutions. Benefits include the ability to weigh mixed modes of transit, choose your journey based on user priority including the length of the trip, the cost of the trip or taking the greenest possible option.
  7. Waste Management: Solar-powered waste management system increases capacity and productivity, with sensors providing data so that trashcans are only emptied when they are full, decreasing CO2 emissions and overall cost.
  8. Open Source Platform: An open source software platform will aggregate data and provide opportunities for citizens, entrepreneurs, and organizations to build smart city applications on top of the platform.
  9. DIA said it will begin implementing the initial project in the West End in the coming months that will focus on smart infrastructure, smart mobility, and connected living.


It said that the living lab will help anchor the Dallas Innovation District and will provide the resources, infrastructure, and creative talent needed to accelerate entrepreneurship, economic development, and research and development.

“We’re [Dallas] the best-kept secret,” said attendee Melinda Lockhart, managing partner at SMARTnTX. 

Steve Deitz Dallas Smart City

Creative CEO Steve Deitz at 900lbs of Creative uses VR to show how the living lab will work. [Photo by Jana J. Pruet]

living lab

The Dallas Innovation Alliance announced its vision for the living lab in the Dallas West End. [Courtesy Dallas Innovation Alliance]

living lab

The living lab is a critical element of the smart cities program of the Dallas Innovation Alliance. [Courtesy Dallas Innovation Alliance]


Jana J. Pruet contributed to this report. 

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