Sep 21, 2020

The City of Omaha Creates its First Smart Zones

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Dawn Miller

Head of Policy & Partnerships

Earlier this year we announced the four cities selected for our inaugural Digital Curb Challenge: Aspen, CO, Nashville, TN, Omaha, NE and West Palm Beach, FL.

 

Today, we are thrilled to join our partners from Park Omaha kicking off a brand new Smart Zone curb management pilot in Downtown Omaha. Aiming to better manage commercial loading on city streets to benefit drivers, local businesses, downtown residents and visitors alike, Omaha’s Smart Zone program is the first of a series of Smart Zone pilots Coord will be supporting in cities across North America in the year ahead.

 

What’s a Smart Zone?

Smart Zones are spaces along the curb dedicated to loading and unloading for certain hours of the day. They are clearly marked with signage, and drivers use a mobile app (Coord Driver) to see real-time Smart Zone locations and availability. As they approach their destinations, drivers can hold and then book time in a Smart Zone.

 

Digital Curb Challenge Page - SmartZone-product

Figure 1. An example of a Smart Zone, along with the Coord Driver app and Smart Zone analytics

 

Why Smart Zones?

Smart Zones are designed to provide delivery and service vehicle drivers with the information and incentives to load in locations where it is safe and permitted.  Well-managed loading zones can reduce double-parking and other behaviors that create safety hazards and impede traffic flow, making downtowns more convenient, safe and pleasant to visit.  As cities look for opportunities to support their brick and mortar businesses, they see creating safe, accessible downtowns -- accomodating a mix of in-person and delivery/pickup business -- as a way they can make a real difference. Providing the technology to power Park Omaha’s Smart Zone pilot is a significant step forward in our mission to build scalable technology to help cities actively manage their curbs.    

 

Coord’s Smart Zones will also provide Park Omaha with information that is essential in empowering the city to make data-driven operational changes. For example, Coord data can be used to figure out where to create more loading space where it’s most needed or help manage demand for it through pricing and time limits. Because Smart Zone availability, rules and prices are digitally communicated to drivers, Coord’s platform allows a city to make rules adjustments for zones in response to policy changes, special events or emergencies without the hassle and expense of modifying signage on the street.  This flexibility already came in handy in Omaha.  There will be construction blocking one of the Smart Zones for the next couple of weeks, so the Park Omaha team turned that Smart Zone off with a few clicks on their Coord web app so drivers know to navigate to an alternative zone in the area. 

 

 

About the City of Omaha’s Smart Zone Pilot Program

 

owen-davis-5Y26pGWBPzM-unsplashFigure 2. An intersection in downtown Omaha

 

Park Omaha has deployed five Smart Zones powered by Coord’s mobile and desktop apps in Omaha’s busy Downtown and Old Market district.  Their goal is to better coordinate access to their curb space for vehicles performing commercial loading, reducing congestion and safety hazards caused by double-parking and other illegal parking. 

 

For the past two months, the team at Coord has worked closely with the Park Omaha team to design and roll out the program - selecting sites, designing signage, doing outreach to fleets, drivers and business owners, and training the Park Omaha team, including their Parking Ambassadors (who do outreach and enforcement) on Coord technology.  The Old Market Association and Omaha Downtown Improvement District were valuable partners for helping the team ensure local businesses were briefed on the program and could provide input to the program team. 

 

You can learn more about the Omaha Smart Zone program by watching a video here.

 

omaha-smart-zones (4)Figure 3. A map of all of the Smart Zone locations in Omaha

 

Stay Tuned

We’re delighted to reach this significant milestone and put Smart Zones into action.  We hope you’ll stay tuned for updates on our pilot with the City of Omaha and as each new pilot launches. If you work for a public agency and are interested in learning about bringing Smart Zones or the Coord platform to your city, you can request a meeting with a member of the Coord team here.

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Dawn Miller

Head of Policy & Partnerships

Dawn is Coord’s Head of Policy and Partnerships. She focuses on Coord's work with public agencies. She previously served as Chief of Staff at the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), the City agency that oversees New York City's taxi, car service and ride-hailing industries. Dawn launched TLC’s Research and Evaluation practice, serving as its first director, and worked as a researcher at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC. She lives with her husband and son in Brooklyn and loves parks, bikes, beaches, stoop-sitting and group fitness.