The Downtown Austin Alliance is a partnership of downtown property owners, individuals, and businesses devoted to preserving and enhancing the value and vitality of downtown Austin.
The Smart 2nd Street project is an urban ‘living lab’ designed to help understand how to improve the designed, operation, efficiency, and quality of our communities and our city. Smart 2nd Street works with community stakeholders to identify opportunities for improvements in safety, mobility, commerce,and other aspects of urban life.
The project will deploy and utilize devices and networks, collect data, present and share information, and conduct analyses that help businesses, civic groups, residents, visitors, and the City promote the quality and efficiency of living, working, and visiting the Smart 2nd Street district. However, the ultimate goal is much grander: to use this living lab to develop the expertise, technologies, plans and policies to address all civic issues, in all communities in Austin—and then to share these with other cities and regions. Smart 2nd Street will develop the infrastructure to make all of Austin a smart city, a better city, for all.
Downtown Austin has experienced tremendous growth over the past 10-20 years. We've seen increases in real estate development, business growth with more jobs, more restaurants and retail, and an increased number of residents and visitors. As the heart of the community, downtown gives Smart 2nd Street a unique opportunity to learn from growth and the changing landscape. And because of downtown's proximity to major employers, top venues, many employees, residents, and civic engagement, it is a prime location for research.
2nd Street is a great example of some of these changes just within a few blocks. The New Library, Amli, W Hotels, Austin City Hall and Convention Center are just a few key features of Second Street making it a location with a lot of activity. Second Street highlights the rebirth of retail with an assortment of mixed uses attracting all types of people and activity from children going to Toy Joy to tech professionals attending an event at the Austin Public Library. Developing a living lab will allow us to capture this activity in a smart way. Some use cases—such as information kiosks or beacons to share information to sensors measuring air quality, allergens, or energy use—are just a few examples that will allow us to learn more about downtown and the rest of the community. The living lab will serve as a resource for a number of downtown initiatives as well as serving as a testing ground for initiatives that can be repeated through the rest of the city.
Cover photo by CRBE