The Town of Cary made history this summer for entering the RIoT Accelerator Program (RAP) not as an early-stage company looking to grow, but instead as a town looking to improve its community through the innovative use of technology.
Nicole Raimundo, the town’s Chief Information Officer, said Cary initially became interested in participating in accelerators to change the mindset of the town’s staff to think in terms of product development.
Now, as Cary works through RAP, they are building a low-power, wide-area network (LPWAN) blanketing the entire town. This will allow Cary to put sensors on the network and capture data wirelessly, ultimately enabling Cary to offer it as a service to businesses in the town and support other municipalities that do not have the capacity for this type of network.
“Gathering the data allows us to build a better community,” Raimundo said. “It gives us that kind of heartbeat and pulse of where people are going and coming and when we may need to address a traffic issue or whatever issue.”
The applications for Cary-based businesses to take advantage of the new network are near endless. Just one example: The Mayton—a boutique hotel in downtown Cary—could now have the possibility of tracking the bicycles it allows its guests to use, thus opening the door to affiliate marketing with the most popular destinations.
Raimundo said asset tracking in general will be a new capability for Cary businesses. And it could prove to be a new revenue stream for the town itself, much like a utility.
Applying to the RIoT program meant Cary had to present its business case, especially as a municipality. But Raimundo said the Town of Cary has been connected with RIoT for years and the organization understood the potential of Cary’s network project, including how it could influence and support other towns.
“Whatever we build together needs to be something that can be replicated in other towns because we all have similar problems,” Raimundo said. “We’re O.K. being the ones that form the partnership and figuring it out and going first, but we want it to be something that other towns can leverage.”
Raimundo said Cary is in the midst of taking some innovative risks in hopes that they can share their learnings with the broader community.
“The more that we can share and partner with our neighbors, I think the stronger that we make this region,” Raimundo said.
By building the town’s network and listening to entrepreneurs, Raimundo is confident that Cary will grow and improve as a tech hub and community.
“We’re excited,” Raimundo said. “I think it’s a great learning opportunity. It’s like anything. When you go back to school, you learn from your teacher or professor and the material, but sometimes the greatest learnings you get are from the people in the class.”