Smart Streetlights Aren’t Delivering the Data Boosters Promised

San Diego’s smart streetlights were supposed to collect and produce anonymized data that planning professionals and app-makers could then use to help solve transit and mobility problems. Officials pitched the project to the City Council and then joined with a major corporation to market it globally as an example of civic innovation.

But more than three years into San Diego’s $30 million investment, the project is failing to live up to its hype and members of the public trying to work with the data are encountering problems that throw the project’s early promotional claims into question.

City officials have acknowledged a lack of expertise internally and said they recently hired a data scientist to help. They’ve also been simultaneously renegotiating their contract with GE Current, the outside company that processes the data, to bring down the city’s costs.