San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer leads the eighth-largest city in the United States—and it’s not a simple job. He knows that fostering innovation and sustainability across the city is key to keeping citizens happy. How does he stay motivated? How is he solving problems? What excites him about the future? We asked, and he answered.
What motivates and excites you?
I’m excited about the future of innovation in San Diego. In 2013, San Diego created over four hundred new startups. In 2014, Forbes named San Diego the number one place to launch a startup. Earlier this year, National Geographic recognized San Diego as one of the world’s smart cities. The best is yet to come for our city, and I’m excited about all of the new opportunities coming our way.
What challenges you and your city?
10,000 employees. With so many employees in one place, traffic is a major issue near their campus. We want major companies to thrive here, so that’s why we jumped at the chance to find innovative solutions to our traffic, street and infrastructure problems.
How are you applying innovation to solving this challenge?
We recently completed a traffic signal communications master plan. By modernizing our traffic signal system, traffic signals throughout San Diego will be coordinated to increase public safety, shorten commutes, reduce greenhouse gases and increase mobility at intersections for all motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, transit and emergency vehicles. We already started implementing some of these solutions in fiscal year 2015 and will implement even more in the years to come.
Our traffic signal communications master plan is just the beginning. San Diego is one of the first pilot cities for an Intelligent Cities program that involves installing LED street lights, which connect, collect and analyze data to help cities run more efficiently. I’m excited about the possibilities of these lights and our partnership. Under our current communications plan, we changed 35,000 lights and converted 3,600 lights to LED. After this change, our City’s energy use plummeted 60 percent. This saves us about a quarter million dollars each year for the 3,600 LED fixtures alone. There are more than 50,000 street lights in the City of San Diego, so there are huge opportunities to use smart technology and get big savings for taxpayers.
It’s the data. It’s the proof points. But it’s also about if you can notice the difference in whether you’re getting from point A to point B faster.