Student Fellowship

Crafting a Resident-Focused Smart City Strategy and Action Plan for Toledo

Project Area:

Government and Technology


Toledo, Ohio

Reporting to:

Chief Information Officer

The Challenge

City leaders believe that resident-centered, sustainable, transparent, and accessible technology use will be key to ensuring strategic decision-making and tackling city priorities. A mayoral priority is generating a smart city strategy that keeps value to residents at its center, through leveraging technology and aligning/connecting the city’s operational investments for multi-purpose and cross-departmental use. City leaders see the strategic deployment of smart technology as crucial to making progress on the city’s five strategic priorities: Basic Services, Environment, Quality Investment, Customer Service, and Workplace Culture. Additionally, a strategy that prioritizes digital equity is necessary to ensure that all residents can access and benefit from the city’s technology investments. 

In several areas of its operations, the city already deploys a range of data-gathering technologies, with varying degrees of “smart” functionality and connectivity. For example, the city recently built an automated water metering infrastructure (AMI) to reduce water loss and provide residents with greater billing transparency. Sensor-based technologies, such as ShotSpotter and traffic-signal sensors, also play important roles in specific operational areas. City leaders see opportunities to leverage and connect these systems for deployment across a wider range of city operations. Additionally, the city is considering investing in upgrades in other technology areas, such as its Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.  A citywide strategy will provide city leaders with an integrated approach to identifying, prioritizing, and sequencing projects across these areas in a way that maximizes their combined value for residents. 

To inform its strategy, the city is already conducting a cross-departmental survey to assess current technology use and anticipated needs. Specifically, this survey is designed to identify alignments between the city’s needs and the stated priority areas of a key federal grant funding opportunity, the Department of Transportation’s Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) grant program. The results of this survey will provide the summer fellow with a key set of inputs to guide their work. The summer fellow, working together with the technology team within the city, will seek to answer the following key questions:

  1. What does it mean for Toledo to be a smart city? How can the city develop a strategic approach to smart city technology that provides resident-facing value and supports the city’s sustainability, transparency, and equity goals?
  2. What should an actionable implementation plan for the strategy include?
  3. How can the city programmatically identify, prioritize, and sequence projects based on need, time to value, and ability to execute? 
  4. How can Toledo maximize its readiness to pursue federal grants (particularly DOT’s SMART grant program) and other major funding opportunities to support the identified priorities?

What You’ll Do

To address these questions, the fellow will identify and review existing information and resources (including, but not limited to, past research/surveys of city and regional technology needs, smart city strategies/best practices from other cities, etc.), and engage with key internal and external stakeholders, to develop a basis for constructing Toledo’s strategy. Key deliverables include:

  1. Portfolio of existing projects and city technology investments.
  2. A DRAFT of Toledo’s smart city strategy that leverages existing assets and addresses key needs and includes a programmatic framework for identifying, sequencing, and prioritizing smart city projects.
  3. A list of prioritized projects based on time-to-value, the ability to execute, and key next steps.
  4. High-quality data and documentation for a potential SMART grant application or other funding opportunities.
  5. Presentation to the Mayor, Cabinet, and City Council

What You’ll Bring

The fellow will be expected to possess the following skills:

  • Data analysis
  • Qualitative interview and analysis
  • Mapping (GIS)
  • Policy analysis
  • Design thinking
  • Human centered design
  • Knowledge of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies 
  • Awareness of digital equity issues
  • Knowledge of leading-edge/innovative uses of smart/Internet of Things (IoT) technology to make city operations more environmentally sustainable

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