International Spotlight Shines On Smart City Work In City of Warner Robins

For more than 80 years, the City of Warner Robins, Georgia was largely defined by its military community. The city, located 110 miles southeast of Atlanta, appeared on the map seemingly overnight after The Great Depression. A new railroad route helped attract what would become the prominent Robins Air Force Base. For much of its history, the motto “Trains, Planes, and Heroes” was the most accurate way to define the Middle Georgia community.

Now Mayor LaRhonda Patrick wants to put Warner Robins on the map as a Smart City.

To do that, Patrick has been working with the Partnership For Inclusive Innovation (the Partnerships)’s Community Research Grant program. Through this, the city developed a first-of-its-kind municipal Digital Twin focused on citizen safety. The concept of a Digital Twin is common in the tech community as a way to build a virtual model of a physical object for remote monitoring. On the municipal level, it can help cities like Warner Robins better understand where to strategically put public safety resources.

The Digital Twin has helped the city use crime data to better understand where to put dynamic Flock Safety cameras. This creates a real-time license plate monitoring system that does more than just deter and detect crime. The Digital Twin project has had a tangible environmental impact by “decreasing the traffic of our police vehicles” needed, Patrick said.

The Digital Twin was a natural extension of “Warner Robins Police Department’s existing interest in license plate reader (LPR) deployment while also extending core LPR capability with Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) methods for data analytics,” Katie O’Connor, the Partnership’s Community Research Manager, told Hypepotamus.

 

WARNER ROBINS ON THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE

Warner Robins

Warner Robins’ smart policing technology and criminal monitoring system have garnered international attention recently. Mayor Patrick was asked to present her city’s project at the Smart City Summit & Expo in Taipei, Taiwan last month. The international conference, which is Asia’s largest Smart Cities trade show, was a chance for Patrick to liaise with municipal officials from across the world to better understand how cities are using new technologies and AI innovations to make cities safer and more sustainable.

On top of speaking at the Summit, Patrick took home an award for the City of Warner Robins. She was one of two Georgia mayors selected as a finalist for the Smart21 Communities of the Year by the Intelligent Communities Forum. She will learn this summer if Warner Robins moves forward in the international competition.

Southeastern cities Woodstock, Georgia, Coral Gables, Florida, and Doral, Florida were also selected.

While reflecting on her time in Taipei, Patrick said it was “humbling” to see the Smart City Summit in action. She was particularly interested in learning about new Smart City technologies that can help cities like Warner Robins figure out better, more efficient ways to renovate aging infrastructure.

Mayors of Warner Robins and Woodstock at the ICF Gala in Taipei last month

 

GETTING SMART CITY BUY IN

Patrick admits that getting Smart City technology into any community requires strong constituent buy in. As a mayor of a conservative Georgia district, it is important to explain that new municipal level-technologies are all about saving taxpayer dollars.

Patrick’s time in Taipei could do a lot to put Middle Georgia on the map for Smart City innovation. And timing couldn’t be more crucial. Robins Air Force Base is about to welcome four new military missions, which will bring 3,000 new members of the military into the community. As leader of one of the fastest growing cities in the State of Georgia, Patrick is looking to find new innovations to ensure that the city is a safe place to live, work, and play.

“When it comes to Smart Cities, when it comes to innovation…I want to be in the driver’s seat. I would like to be one of those individuals who is willing to take the risk, even when the others around me don’t want to take risks,” she added.