Feb 5, 2021

Green Light in Omaha: Smart Zone Pilot Program Continues

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Doneliza Joaquin

Program Manager

Coord is delighted to announce that it is extending its partnership with Park Omaha and the city’s Smart Zone program. Omaha, Nebraska was one of four cities selected to take part in Coord’s inaugural Digital Curb Challenge. Launching in September 2020, Omaha was the first city to introduce Smart Zones.

What’s a Smart Zone?
Smart Zones are spaces along the curb that cities digitally manage and operate. In Omaha, Smart Zones are dedicated to vehicles loading and unloading goods. Drivers use a mobile app to see real-time Smart Zone locations and availability. When they’re nearing their destinations, drivers can hold a Smart Zone, paying for space in-app when they arrive. This provides drivers with advanced curb intelligence they can use to navigate directly to available space, reducing illegal parking and circling. It provides cities with valuable data and tools to optimize their curb space to meet competing community needs.

What have we learned so far?

  • 5 Smart Zones are operating in Omaha, all of which were new loading spaces introduced to the downtown to support business deliveries. You can learn more about Omaha’s program on our blog.
  • Creating safe and legal spaces for large trucks to make deliveries downtown was a big goal for the City. So far, larger trucks have peaks early in the morning (6am) and again mid-morning (10am), while smaller vehicles are more likely to be booking space in the afternoon.
  • Like many cities, Downtown Omaha has been much quieter than usual during the pilot period due to COVID-19. Despite these unusual circumstances that resulted in relatively low sample sizes, a camera-based pre-/post-evaluation provided some positive signs Smart Zones are nonetheless meeting their goals in Omaha:
    • Since Smart Zones were created, the zones attracted loading activity and reduced the amount of loading activity occurring in unauthorized areas in the areas surrounding the Smart Zone.
    • There were significant reductions in double parking in areas where Smart Zones were added.
    • In multiple sites we observed a drop in average loading dwell times, suggesting provision of Smart Zones can improve the efficiency with which space is used and the speed with which delivery activity is completed.
  • Smart Zones also seem to be attracting some short-dwell passenger loading activities, mainly ride hailing pickups and dropoffs. Commercial delivery drivers have thus far not reported these short-dwell activities as interfering with their access to Smart Zones.

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What happens next?

With the continuation of the pilot, Park Omaha is looking to expand the Smart Zone locations downtown to provide more efficient loading options. The City looks forward to collecting additional data to inform their overall curbside management strategy and approach to providing safe and efficient loading options that serve their residents, businesses and visitors. Stay tuned for more updates on Omaha as well as our Smart Zone partnerships in Nashville, West Palm Beach, and Aspen.

And if you work for a public agency or a curb manager for a large organization (e.g. a university, airport, private development) and are interested in bringing Smart Zones to your curbs, apply to the Digital Curb Challenge 2021 or request a meeting with a member of the Coord team here.

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Doneliza Joaquin

Program Manager

Doneliza is a program manager at Coord. She is helping to deploy Coord’s Smart Zone pilots and programs. Previously she has worked as an urban research team leader at the real estate listing startup Localize.city, as a management consultant focusing on public sector and non-profit organizations, and as an adjunct professor at Barnard College teaching courses in GIS mapping and analysis. Outside of work, Doneliza enjoys running in the city, preferably including a bridge or two, and exploring running routes when traveling.