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Will San Antonio Become A Smart City?

Some city leaders say San Antonio needs to become a smart city. But what exactly does that mean for the Alamo City?

A smart city is one that uses data and technology to help improve the quality of life for its citizens. Jose De La Cruz is the city’s Chief Innovation Officer.

"Here in San Antonio some of the projects we’ve proposed are enabling more access to wifi which is helpful in bridging the digital divide. We’re trying to make it easier for people to navigate our park systems, so we’re going to create a mobile app that will help them not only navigate the park system, but help them to understand what’s in the ten largest parks in the city," De La Cruz says.

And then there are the solar benches. De La Cruz says they have ports in which you can charge your mobile devices while you sit on the bench. Most solar benches provide wifi. De La Cruz says in some cities, the benches can count how many visitors are in the park which can lead to better park design, maintenance and programming.

De La Cruz says San Antonio becoming a smart city would help the community.

"Most cities kind of got down this path because technology has changed so much in the last few years, and I think anytime a city can promote itself as being technologically progressive, it can lead to more economic development within that city. It can lead to better educational opportunities within the city as well. So being a smart city really helps you to achieve some of those goals," De La Cruz says.

The proposed budget for the smart city project for next year is $13 million. City Council votes on whether to adopt it on Sept. 15.

Louisa Jonas is an independent public radio producer, environmental writer, and radio production teacher based in Baltimore. She is thrilled to have been a PRX STEM Story Project recipient for which she produced a piece about periodical cicadas. Her work includes documentaries about spawning horseshoe crabs and migratory shorebirds aired on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered. Louisa previously worked as the podcast producer at WYPR 88.1FM in Baltimore. There she created and produced two documentary podcast series: Natural Maryland and Ascending: Baltimore School for the Arts. The Nature Conservancy selected her documentaries for their podcast Nature Stories. She has also produced for the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s Distillations Podcast. Louisa is editor of the book Backyard Carolina: Two Decades of Public Radio Commentary. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her training also includes journalism fellowships from the Science Literacy Project and the Knight Digital Media Center, both in Berkeley, CA. Most recently she received a journalism fellowship through Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution where she traveled to Toolik Field Station in Arctic Alaska to study climate change. In addition to her work as an independent producer, she teaches radio production classes at Howard Community College to a great group of budding journalists. She has worked as an environmental educator and canoe instructor but has yet to convince a great blue heron to squawk for her microphone…she remains undeterred.