‘High-tech Park’ from NY High Line Designer Coming to Dallas’ West End

The West End Plaza at Market and Corbin streets is part of the ongoing developments in the neighborhood where the Dallas Innovation Alliance is piloting smart cities tech.

west end

An old asphalt parking lot will become a high-tech park.

And, just a block away, Sam’s Club is opening a 45,000-square-foot new tech office that will house 100 employees, The Dallas Morning News reports. Blue Cross Blue Shield already has an innovation space in that building.

The Internet of Things is spreading fast from pedestrian sensors and smart sprinklers to smart parking lots and interactive digital screens. Someday, robots could be roving the sidewalks making deliveries.

“Dallas will make this data open so citizens get transparency and startups and corporations can build products.”

Jennifer Sanders

It’s all happening in the West End where the Dallas Innovation Alliance’s Smart Cities Living Lab pilot program is in full swing. It’s a testing ground for IoT sensors and smart city technology to show how corporations, cities, and startups can work together to integrate the latest technology.

Jennifer Sanders, executive director of the DIA, showcased the latest accomplishments in the West End at the group’s Summer Soiree Wednesday night.

The city of Dallas already makes data public via Dallas Open Data, but in September people can get a look at data from all the sensors in the West End involved in the Living Lab pilot. 

“There’s very, very smart people working on this to create better insights,” Sanders said. “Dallas will make this data open so citizens get transparency and startups and corporations can build products. I think that’s a really critical step towards getting people involved.”

Trey Bowles, who co-founded the DIA in 2015, said it’s also important to maintain the historic look and feel of the West End even as new technologies are incorporated.

Changes are on the horizon, some will be visible to passersby walking down the street, others won’t.

West End

Rendering of the forthcoming West End Plaza. [Image: James Corner Field Operations, Courtesy of Parks for Downtown Dallas and the City of Dallas Park and Recreation Department]

The development of the West End Plaza at Market and Corbin streets south of Spaghetti Warehouse will be one of the most noticeable and likely, most popular.

Billed as the “most high-tech park in the world,” it will tap into the public wireless internet that’s already in place. It’s being designed by James Corner Field Operations, who designed The High Line and Beekman Street Plazas in New York City and the Navy Pier in Chicago.

The public is invited to give input on the park design at meetings set for Sept. 20 and 21.

The public is invited to give input on the park design at meetings set for Sept. 20 and 21.

Sanders has worked with three dozen different corporations, including Dallas-based AT&T, and 20 different departments within the city of Dallas.

The DIA facilitates communication between the various entities, a process Sanders said other cities could follow as they integrate smart city technology.

While IoT sensors do cost money, the long-term benefits could save money, energy, and water.

The city of Dallas has replaced 23 street lights in the West End with LED bulbs that last longer, use less electricity, and send notifications when they go out. The operational efficiencies on those 23 lights could save 4,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. If every street light in Dallas were replaced with the same technology, it could save 10 million kilowatt hours per year and millions of dollars in operational efficiencies.  

Statistics show that crime decreases when lighting is in place, Sanders said. Pedestrian sensors detect foot traffic entering the West End from all directions, a useful tool for prospective businesses.

Sensors in the road could better detect vehicles, changing traffic lights in real time to reduce congestion or make way for a bus. Someday, the road could even be used to charge an electric vehicle as it drives, she said.

Air quality also can be measured with rooftop sensors. Not surprisingly, July 4 had the worst air quality with more particulate matter in the air from area firework shows.

The second phase of DIA’s smart cities initiative will include a partnership with Toyota to tackle mobility issues in south Dallas. The past few months have been spent meeting with community representatives from that area to see what their particular needs are.

“We’re not quite ready to announce formally the specifics of the projects,” Sanders said.

Updated Aug. 22, 2018, 7:55.

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