San Antonio’s smart cities program was missing something when it launched in 2017, and the city’s team knew it, said Emily Royall, smart city administrator. “We realized what was missing was hands-on interaction with our residents,” she said.
This realization was the city’s impetus for creating the SA Sandbox, an annual event where residents and Smart Cities staff come together to explore and discuss the technologies that San Antonio is implementing or hopes to.
“[Residents] could learn about smart cities technology and we could get their feedback,” Royall said. “We prioritized hosting these events in public parks so everyone could [attend] them…”
The Sandbox is designed to engage residents in discussing the role technology can play in the community, Royall said. For example, last year the city was piloting “Hello Lamp Post,” a digital assistant that can answer residents’ questions about construction in the community. Smart Cities staff wanted feedback on how user-friendly the tool was.