Chicago is Illinois’ most-populous city and is a beautiful blend of old and new, with buildings constructed in the late 19th century still standing today and many other architectural marvels that welcome thousands of tourists to Chicago each year.
Despite the ‘old feel’ in many parts of the city, Chicago has made enormous strides in embracing technology to improve many of the city’s services. From public transportation to public infrastructure, embracing and implementing green technology, and investing in a ‘smart grid,’ there are many ways in which the City of Chicago is using technology to improve the services offered to its residents.
CTA going green
The Chicago Transit Authority has pushed to electrify railcars, including introducing the new L-5000 Series. These new cars have a braking system to transfer energy back into the rails they run on, supplementing power to nearby trains. While this is not necessarily ground-breaking, it does mean that the CTA’s trains pull less power from the grid overall, creating energy savings for the City and its residents.
Chicago Transit Authority has also made strides to increase its fleet of all-electric buses, with the rest running on clean diesel. Alongside this, the CTA’s support vehicles that provide breakdown assistance and other services to Chicagoans are a mixture of hybrid-electric and those that run on compressed natural gas.
Another way in which Chicago is embracing technology is through smart streetlights. The City has installed 270,000 smart streetlights powered by energy-efficient LEDs that use cameras and other technologically advanced detection methods to provide the correct amount of light for the location. These lights use sensors and other data points to dim or brighten automatically, saving money for Chicago’s smart electrical grid.
Making mobility easier and cheaper
Alongside their investment in a green transit system, the City of Chicago and various software developers have introduced smart technology into their phone apps, changing how Chicagoans move around the city.
From mapping bike and walking routes, real-time adjusted parking applications find you the best place to park on the fly at the best price. Alongside offering consumers the best price, the City also reduces traffic congestion and pollution by reducing drivers’ time looking for affordable parking.
Parking in Chicago, Illinois, can be a pricey affair, with the average monthly cost for a parking spot reaching an astounding $300.33. This is a significant reflection of the city’s high cost of living, and it poses a challenge for both residents and visitors, particularly in heavily congested areas.
Planning and budgeting for this expense when traveling to or residing in Chicago is essential to avoid financial strain. Although parking can be expensive, it’s often an unavoidable expense, and one can consider alternative parking arrangements or utilize public transportation to alleviate some of the financial burdens.
Electric vehicle charging
As electric vehicles take over America, Chicago and other metropolitan cities are fast-building infrastructure to support them. Within 15km of downtown Chicago, there are 602 electric vehicle charging stations. Most stations offer free parking, while the rest offer affordable fees. Embracing the revolution, Chicago is fast becoming a city of the future.
Chicagoans, on your bike
Another way Chicago uses technology to embrace a greener future is to encourage its citizens to cycle. With over 117 miles of cycling paths in Chicago, getting around by bicycle is easy and sometimes faster than a car. Using bike mapping technology, the City of Chicago can improve its bike lanes and deliver real-time information to those who use them.
Chicago has also significantly improved its e-bike capacity and also offered e-scooters. Chicago will also upgrade its protected bike lanes to concrete by the end of 2023, improving the quality of cyclists’ rides and the longevity of their bikes.
Have you thought your home’s roof could be a garden? The City of Chicago has. Alongside the food/plant life contributions to your home or the environment, having living vegetation on the roofs of buildings improves rainwater management, reducing cadmium, copper, and lead runoffs into potable water.
Green roofs also improve air quality and preserve natural habitats for birds and other animals that would otherwise not live in the city environment.
Chicago is quickly establishing itself as one of America’s most technologically advanced cities, with plans to become one of its “smart cities.” The Mayor and other city officials are heavily investing in technologies that reduce waste in various areas, such as water, energy, time, and money.
By doing so, they hope to make Chicago a more affordable and accessible destination for residents and visitors. These efforts reflect the city’s commitment to using technology to create a better, greener, and safer environment for everyone who lives or travels there. As technological advancements continue, the Mayor and city staff are keen to integrate them into Chicago’s infrastructure to enhance the city’s capabilities further.