Peña Station NEXT

Designing a smart city controller that works for everyone.

Panasonic is a global leader in integrated technology solutions. In 2015, Panasonic began a joint venture with the City of Denver to build out a smart city prototype as part of a broader corporate initiative called CityNOW. Peña Station is situated on 220 acres just 12 minutes from Denver International Airport, and is a live/work proving ground for a variety of leading-edge technologies including controllable smart lighting, parking systems, environmental sensing, and autonomous vehicles.

Challenge

Design a product that's never been built.

The team at Panasonic CityNow faced an unprecedented challenge — how to integrate multiple technologies from dozens of hardware vendors into a system controlled by a simple user interface. 

In August 2016, the CityNOW team selected Ben and his team at Clearform to design a browser-based, tablet-responsive controller for the tech underlying Peña Station NEXT, to be fully operational within 8 months. The Clearform team quickly realized that the challenge went far beyond interface design and development for urban technology integration, and that they must also consider how citizen privacy, government policy, and current city processes and personnel would affect and could be positively affected by a truly integrated smart city interface. We needed to talk with end-users, and learn as much as possible to ensure that we would design and build the right solution.

Solution

Research, prototype, and deliver.

The photos above show when Ben and his team traveled to the City of Denver and Peña Station,  leading five days of site visits, interviews, and design workshops with the CityNOW team and City of Denver officials.

Back in Portland, the Clearform team collaborated with Panasonic to define the project requirements that kicked off a series of design and prototyping sprints. Qualitative usability testing was performed with interactive prototypes built during each sprint. Learnings from each round of testing were incorporated into subsequent designs.

As the design reached maturity, Clearform began developing the first custom application interface for the Peña Station NEXT system. Panasonic and Clearform engineers collaborated on the underlying web application architecture to ensure the interface would integrate with the systems being built by the CityNOW team at Panasonic. 

Panasonic received all design documentation along with the interface codebase in December 2016. Clearform continued to offer advisory support to Panasonic through the successful Alpha launch of the application in April 2017.

Snapshot of a city.

For the first time, city officials can get real-time performance data for lighting, parking, environmental, and security-related concerns, all through a single unified web application. A robust permission system ensures only the right people can access the right information for their role.

Analysis & reporting.

System analytics empower officials to track usage statistics, uptime, repairs, and expenses against budget in real time.

Maintenance made easy.

City maintenance is notified the instant any equipment needs attention. Any alerts that come through are prioritized and addressed by the foreman. Basic diagnostics may be conducted remotely, and work crews can be quickly dispatched to repair or replace any faulty components.

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