Governments can better serve their constituents through more connected communities. Achieving this requires them to embrace digital transformation to build smarter spaces. 

Smart spaces represent a combination of technologies that, when integrated in intentional ways, enable greater interactivity in the places where people gather. Built on a foundation of networks and connectivity, they leverage cellular or Wi-Fi devices, sensors, cameras, and other connected technologies to help leaders understand and improve conditions in a physical location. 

Here are five tips state and local governments can follow to build smart spaces in support of smarter communities.

1. Enable connectivity for everything!

Connecting devices within public and private areas like intersections, ports and terminals, libraries, and parks and recreation has become almost as important as connecting city hall. As the world becomes more digital and people begin to expect digital options for services formerly only offered in-person, government organizations should ensure they have both the wired and wireless technologies necessary to connect workers, constituents, and devices. 

2. Keep IoT devices top of mind

Temperature, humidity, water leakage, and door sensors provide rich and actionable environmental data to help governments create smarter spaces. This information can be used in multiple ways, whether it’s improving people’s experiences with the world around them, protecting important items, or helping technicians proactively identify problems or optimize energy heavy systems. Additionally, cameras can help to tighten security while also providing valuable insights on occupancy/space availability to improve experiences and help with future planning.

3. Empower data-driven insights

Agencies should be sure to pair data collection with technologies like AI/ML that can help to transform vast volumes of data into actionable insights. Automating for efficient and effective operations—such as improving critical infrastructure, traffic lights/traffic flow, and more—is now crucial for providing constituents with a positive experience.  

While these solutions sound great, a number of barriers are preventing agencies from putting them into practice, including siloed IT/OT networks, stretched resources, cybersecurity concerns, outdated systems, and more. Overcoming these challenges is by no means easy, but the following tips will help you on your journey to implement smart spaces. 

4. Build in security from the start

Securing government and citizen data is a priority for all government organizations nowadays. It follows that smart spaces technology in particular must include edge protection and cloud application security. To simplify this task, the Cisco Meraki platform brings together connectivity, hardware visibility, AI/ML, and an ecosystem of application partners to provide IT teams with the support they need to make better decisions. 

5. Manage through the cloud

Our experiences during the pandemic underlined the importance of preparing for the unexpected, and cloud-managed networks equip agencies with the tools they need to adapt. For example, the cloud allows for an automated hybrid workplace with networks that learn from billions of weekly touchpoints. This information can be applied to build and adapt smarter and more sustainable workspaces with always-on security updates.

Bringing smarter spaces to life

Smart spaces are a key component of building a connected community. Agencies that provide positive digital experiences for their constituents are ones that will ultimately thrive. For visitors to the Eagle Public Library (Colorado), one of the main highlights is the array of historic documents on display that connect individuals in the community to their history and ancestors. In addition to providing connectivity and IT simplification, Meraki smart spaces solutions, deployed by their partner Marmot Library Network, are able to monitor and protect these priceless records for generations to come.

Here at Meraki, we want to help provide these experiences through modern hardware, 360 degree security, SD-WAN connectivity, and our intuitive cloud platform. We’re here to simplify government IT and help agencies on their digital transformation journey. 

For a deeper dive into building connected communities, read our guide.