GovernmentCategory3 min read

Small Town. Smart City Dreams.

Blakely Thomas-Aguilar
Learn how the city of Tyler, Texas, has its eye on being the smart city of the future–all while empowering its citizens and neighboring towns to leverage technology as a force for good.

Smart transit system. Intelligent, connected infrastructure. Citizen-centric, next-gen applications. No, we’re not talking about Dubai, New York City or London. We’re talking about the rose capital of the United States: the small town of Tyler, Texas.

The thing that makes Tyler unique to any other city—and I get asked that question a lot—it's the people. The people in Tyler are very giving. The citizens here, they give of their time, talent and their resources. And that's the very first thing that makes our city unique.

DON WARREN, TYLER CITY COUNCIL

Small Town, Big Digital Transformation

Tyler began its digital transformation journey about 10 years ago. But its leaders believed Tyler’s citizens deserved more than the digital status quo. They believed technology innovation had the power to improve lives and bring their community closer together.

We are more and more looking at connecting our citizens with their government through technology. How can we serve our citizens, faster and quicker and better services, so that people will want to come and live in the city of Tyler and raise their family.

BENNY YAZDANPANAHI, CIO, TYLER, TEXAS

Government Services Get Smart

The Boston Consulting Group expects spending on IoT by governments to increase from $5 billion in 2015 to $12 billion in 2020.

IoT has the potential to transform public sector operations at municipal, regional and national levels. These public entities can leverage the power of connected things to meet the needs of a population that is increasingly reliant on digital services and interactivity.

The applications are almost limitless: street lighting that responds to pedestrian traffic levels; smart garbage cans that prompt rubbish collection when it is needed; parking space alert services; and interactive information services for tourists, pushed to their smartphones, among many others.

Tyler, Texas, is on the bleeding edge of smart city innovation and adoption:

  • Sanitation.
  • Traffic lights.
  • Public transportation.
  • Utilities.
  • Police and fire services.

When I went to the Police Academy in 1994, we primarily used radios. We used to wait for the opportunity to get a vehicle that had a computer in it. I can tell you that nowadays, technology touches every part of our life. There is more technology in the phone I carry today than we had in our cars and probably the whole police department back then. Now, we’re moving forward with mobile platforms. We have in-car video systems, we have body cameras, we have computers in cars. These are now a vital part of police services.

JIMMY TOLER, CHIEF OF POLICE, TYLER, TEXAS

Future-Ready Schools for a Future-Ready Workforce

Tyler Independent School District (ISD) prepares K-12 students for the future of work by incorporating technology into the learning experience very early. Students use the newest digital tools inside and outside the classroom, thanks to the ISD’s virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). This mobile technology enhances education and prepares students for real-world careers.

Technology is rapidly altering the ways we interact and work … it has become a language, one that individuals must master from an early age if they are to thrive in the modern workplace and society … Technology should thus be embedded across the educational experience to mirror its relevance in all sectors and careers.

WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM

IT Takes a Village

Community means more than a town. Community is about fostering relationships–and helping neighbors in need. To help its neighbors realize the value of digital transformation, the city of Tyler reaches out a helping hand.

“We’re partnering with some of our neighboring cities to provide them with IT services. Being the larger city in the area, we have the size and staff to be able to utilize these private cloud technologies,” says Jeremy English, Tyler’s IT infrastructure manager. “We’re bringing the big-city technology to all the small towns in the area.”

The impact on working with cities around the city of Tyler has been a great asset. Not only does it bring in revenue, but it also brings in relationships. And that's really important. You share things back and forth. And right now, it's technology. Tomorrow, what could it be? It's a start of something new.

DON WARREN, CITY COUNCIL, TYLER, TEXAS

Digital Transformation in the Heart of Texas

I fell in love when I came to the city of Tyler. I married a Tyler girl, and I decided to stay here. And Tyler has been a great place, especially city of Tyler, because everybody in the city, they have that servant heart. They want to serve their community, to make it better for the citizens.

BENNY YAZDANPANAHI, CIO, TYLER, TEXAS

Learn more about Tyler's powerful digital transformation story. Read the case study