Dallas Innovation Alliance Launched to Execute Smart Cities Strategy

September 22, 2015

Can Dallas be a “Smart City”?

What does it really mean to be a ‘smart city’? It’s more than just having free city-wide Wi-Fi. A Smart City is a city where social and technological infrastructures and solutions facilitate and accelerate sustainable economic growth, and importantly, improves the quality of life in the city for its citizens across multiple key areas.

To be considered a ‘smart city’, we must make significant strides in five of the following areas: energy, mobility, technology, citizens, buildings, healthcare, government, and infrastructure (infrastructure MUST be one of the five to be considered).

So, where does Dallas stack up to other major cities, and how can we improve? According to a report by Frost & Sullivan, Dallas has advanced work in four areas: energy (thanks to Oncor pioneering the smart microgrid), citizens (because we have a high concentration of entrepreneurs and advanced degrees), buildings (because we have 32.7% square feet of commercial green space), and government (implemented Dallas Open Data portal), but we are lacking in the areas of mobility (lacking in bike share and suffer from signal obsolescence), technology (we only have free Wi-Fi in some public spaces like libraries and schools), infrastructure (we have 7,000 AMI meters but should further expand the program), and healthcare (we stand to greatly improve public health through North Texas Accountable Healthcare Partnership Health Information Exchange).

That puts us behind cities that are smart now like Chicago, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C., and those that will be smart by 2025 like Austin, Los Angeles, and Portland.

So, how do we ensure Dallas is on track to be a smart city moving forward?

Well, it’s time we find out, which is why Downtown Dallas, Inc. has joined forces with many other organizations, corporations, and the City of Dallas under the leadership of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center to form the Dallas Innovation Alliance (DIA). This week, at an event hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in conjunction with the inaugural Smart Cities Week, Dallas announced the formation of a public‑private partnership dedicated to executing a smart cities plan for Dallas. Dallas was one of only four cities that had announcements recognized by the White House and was the only city that was announcing their first foray into the Smart City community. The DIA is a coalition of stakeholders from the City of Dallas, corporations, civic and NGO organizations, academia, and private individuals who are invested in Dallas’ continued evolution as a forward‑thinking city where social and technological infrastructures and solutions facilitate and accelerate sustainable economic growth, resource efficiency, and importantly, improves the quality of life in the city for its citizens. Operating from a foundational vision that smart cities are about people – and not just technology – DIA is focused on the end user, and building a critical mass of the most highly‑engaged citizens in the country. Led by the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (The DEC), the Dallas Innovation Alliance is comprised of founding Charter Members: Mayor Mike Rawlings and the City of Dallas, AECOM, AT&T, IBM, Microsoft, Schneider Electric, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), Dallas Regional Chamber, Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau, Downtown Dallas, Inc., Texas Research Alliance, and The Real Estate Council (TREC). AT&T also announced their Smart Cities initiative and would be working with the DIA to implement a solution.

DIA’s work will be complemented through the City of Dallas and the Texas Research Alliance’s participation in the MetroLab Network, a national effort also announced this week at the White House, a national consortium of university‑city teams focused on sharing solutions to difficult problems in urban infrastructure. The MetroLab Network will bring together university researchers with city decision makers to research, develop, and deploy (“RD&D”) technology and analytically based solutions to the problems facing the systems and infrastructure on which our citizens, cities, and regional economies depend. The Network will focus on common challenges facing cities in order to develop shared, scalable solutions that can be deployed across the Network.

Across the city, innovative projects have been implemented in recent years, from organizations including the Dallas Arts District, the Dallas Police Department, and DART. An initial goal of DIA is to collate and aggregate all of the good work being done, and leverage results and lessons learned into a comprehensive plan focused on a single neighborhood that can be replicated throughout the city. Initial efforts will be centered in Downtown’s West End Historic District, where a confluence of multimodal transit, walkability, historic buildings, and a burgeoning innovation district will be ground zero for the city as a living lab, where a three‑pronged strategy will center on infrastructure, mobility, and connected living. DIA will leverage insights and momentum stemming from recent initiatives including the 2014 New Cities Summit, Downtown Dallas 360 plan, and results from Dallas’ IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Grant as a catalyst to execute a multi‑phased strategy reflecting Dallas’ commitment to sustainability and strengthening the urban core. For more information on the initiative and to get involved, please visit http://www.DallasInnovationAlliance.com.


August 19, 2015

Check out the latest post on Downtown Dallas 360 from our guest blogger, Janette K. Monear –  president and CEO of Texas Trees Foundation.

Read here.

What do the Downtown Residents want for Downtown Dallas?

August 12, 2015

Downtown Dallas, Inc. and the Downtown Residents Council recently hosted a Downtown Dallas 360 District Visioning Workshop for Main Street District, Thanksgiving Commercial Center, Dallas Farmers Market District, Civic Center, Dallas Arts District, and the West End Historic District. There were over 100 residents, property owners, and business owners in attendance who showed a genuine interest in making Downtown a better place to live, work, and play. It was quite interesting to listen to the discussions in the different groups and what they reported back to everyone. What did they want? Well, the themes were very similar in each group…..walkability (and bike-ability), more smaller gathering spaces with seating, shade, trees, and cafes, diversity (families!), reasonably priced retail and housing, and more every day services like grocery stores and cafes. And the most common theme was the need for better and safer connections between districts. Oh for example, that daunting walk under 345 to get to Deep Ellum for dinner or for a festival, or trying to walk or jog to Dallas Heritage Village from the Farmers Market over I-30, or biking from Downtown to the Trinity River or Continental Avenue Bridge. I happen to live Downtown too, and couldn’t agree more with this active group of stakeholders. Thank you to those who took the time to come and provide very important input that will help form the update of our strategic plan, Downtown Dallas 360. Visit www.downtowndallas360.com for a calendar of events, updates from previous sessions, and links to the entire 2011 plan. Hope to see you at the next visioning workshop!

Shalissa Colwell
Downtown Resident and Downtown Dallas 360 Project Team

Attendees told us where they live, work, and play!

Attendees told us where they live, work, and play!

group shot at DRC rebecca greenan DRC

We received great feedback in our neighborhood galleries

We received great feedback in our neighborhood galleries

mapping project DRC

Todd Howard: Protecting Neighborhood Treasures as We Plan for Growth

August 6, 2015

Check out this great blog from our friend Todd Howard: http://realestate.dmagazine.com/2015/07/todd-howard-protecting-neighborhood-treasures-as-we-plan-for-growth/ 

360 Meeting Window #2 Recap: What Comes of Simply Sitting around a Table

July 25, 2015

This week, the 360 team had another intense round of meetings focused specifically on coordinating with a long list of concurrent projects that have overlapping impact that will ultimately shape Downtown.  These projects hold tremendous opportunity, and if leveraged – if translated from their inherent macro scope into to the micro issues that impact the livability of our neighborhoods – could move us beyond just striving to be  a “21st century city” to an authentic physical and cultural shift that will place Dallas as one of the great cities of the world. Where to begin? The proverbial family dinner table, of course.

We started with CityMAP. The depth and wealth of information being gathered by the CityMAP team is remarkable. Facilitating over 60 community input meetings thus far, themes of what Dallas wants to be are emerging. In our goals for the final 360 product, we talk about the need for urban mobility principles to inform transit projects of all modes, from regional highways and the local street grid, to light rail, streetcar and trolley, integrated seamlessly with pedestrian, hike and bike paths and trails.

Exclamation point number one: CityMAP and 360 have the ability to gain this intelligence from Dallasites and work together to apply it to future projects at the local, regional, and state level. 360 provides a mechanism by which values and scenarios that come from CityMAP can be applied to the urban core, integrated through a public-private partnership already established in our planning process. Visions for “Expanding Transit and Realizing TOD,” “Creating Vibrant Streets and Public Spaces,” “Ensure Great Urban Design,” street classifications and a circulation framework are already established and adopted from the 2011 plan; it’s time to expand the principles into all fifteen districts and apply them to our regional system based on the values we deem a priorities for Downtown.

Exclamation point number two: Let’s work together to do some stuff now. Early in both planning efforts we’re already hearing about, say, guardrails that are too low on the Ervay bridge over I-30 between the Farmers Market and the Cedars, making what is otherwise a natural pedestrian connection,  a frightening experience (I personally used to jog Harwood north from Corinth to Uptown back in my pre-children-Cedars-loft-living days. Not much better.) Another note: There is a gap in the sidewalk along Canton from the Farmers Market to Deep Ellum. This list of “quick wins” is growing; and sure, even pouring some concrete costs real money, but as we sit around the table it begins to become apparent that there are collective resources to leverage and will to make progress happen now.

It is a clear, and as @WalkableDFW pointed out to me, “obvious” alignment, for 360 and CityMAP to continue to work in tandem on a number of points –  interface of regional and local traffic, urban design, and the relationship of mobility to housing, jobs and neighborhood development. So right now: so far, so good at the table.

Time was also spent on the Neighborhoods Plus Plan and Dallas Bike Plan, both city-wide efforts that will be incorporated into 360 as they relate specifically to Downtown. For example, related to Neighborhoods Plus, how do we preserve affordable and middle class housing in high density urban development, particularly as we approach an era of new construction (good problem: we’re running out of vacant buildings that can grab tax credits and other incentives)? Where is there opportunity to build nodes of neighborhood services? 360 calls “Diversify and Grow Housing” a transformative strategy, with a long list of how-to-get-there’s. We’re eager to continue that path and evolve it into today’s needs and economic conditions.

With regard to the bike plan, as far as 360 is concerned, we can’t get bike lanes in fast enough. Yet, there is an appreciation for yet another paradigmatic shift in the way Dallas thinks about cycling. According to Ashley Haire, the commuter cyclist is still a rare species; we are dominated with the spandex-wearing enthusiast and a sprinkle of weekend cruisers. That is shifting, undoubtedly, as we at DDI know firsthand from the demand for bike share, but it is hampered by our (un)willingness to trade on-street front door parking for a safe cycle lane.  And side note, this is cool: Strava Heatmap .

A great deal of time, after highways, bikes and housing, was spent on high speed rail, quite timely given this week’s news, and related development interest along Riverfront.

But let’s save that for a few days and talk for a bit …

  • What are some “quick wins” in your neighborhood that could be addressed with an alignment of volunteer, public, and private resources?
  • Bike lane vs. valet and “in front of my house” parking? Go.
  • For Downtown dwellers, what services are you missing? And how far are you willing to walk, ride (bike, public transit), or drive to satisfy that need?
  • For non-Downtown dwellers who love Downtown, what is keeping you away? Housing type? Price? Services?

Finally, stay tuned to more on the last few weeks’ worth of work, as well as dates for upcoming 360 District Workshops. More opportunities to chime in.

Want to know how you can be involved? Join us at one of our upcoming 360 District Workshops or drop us a line to tell us how you’d like to be involved. You can sign up to be a volunteer, host an event or simply help us spread the word!

Kourtny Garrett
EVP, Downtown Dallas, Inc.
Downtown Dallas 360 Team Lead
Downtown Dallas Resident

Feedback from Wednesday’s 360 Kickoff

June 19, 2015

As promised, here is the feedback given from those in attendance at the Downtown Dallas 360 Kickoff:

Design District

Baylor District

Civic Center

Dallas Arts District

Dallas Farmers Market District

Deep Ellum

Main Street District

Reunion District

Riverfront District

South Side

Thanksgiving Commercial District

The Cedars


Victory Park

West End Historic District

I Wish

If I Could Change

I Love

Downtown Dallas 360 Kickoff Recap

June 19, 2015

Let’s start talking.

Wednesday night marked a special moment in Downtown Dallas: the evolution of the Downtown Dallas 360 plan. Nearly 300 sat in the audience at the Pegasus Room in the Dallas Power & Light Building for a conversation about wishes, hopes, desires, vision and pragmatic needs for Dallas’ urban core. There were residents, business owners, corporate and civic leaders – an audience so diverse that it surprised even those of us who live and breathe the business of our city every day. Many of Dallas’ long-time visionaries who were urban-before-urban-was-cool mixed and mingled with the new voices who are speaking – and acting! – loud and clear about the future of Downtown. Another surprise: the room was energized, hopeful and cooperative, which in light of the many passionate and polarizing issues that face us today, could have become an airing of grievances and strong-armed debate. Instead, it was a showing of love for our city.

For those who could not join us, here are some key points:

The Downtown Dallas 360 plan was adopted by Dallas City Council in 2011, so why go back just four years later?  First, Downtown Dallas 360 was created as a dynamic document meant to be nimble and responsive to our transforming urban environment. Rather than saying, “we need a new vision” or “we need a new plan,” we are instead working the existing framework, evolving the plan into strategies relevant to today through 2020.

In addition, we (meaning the collective “we” of public, private, and community interests) have just done a lot. Progress is evident in the Dallas Farmers Market redevelopment, Main Street district ground floor transformation and the Lamar Corridor. We’ve connected districts with projects like Klyde Warren Park and the Continental Avenue Bridge, integrated parking technology, gone on road diets and impacted policy change to improve street activity with revisions to ordinances that encourage street vending and outdoor cafés. Just since spring of 2011, Downtown’s landscape has significantly changed.  And there is an unprecedented amount of interest in Dallas’ urban core; from transformational projects like high-speed rail, D2 and CityMAP, to infill interest from developers, community organizations and the people who now call the center city home.

Wednesday night’s conversation was inspired. Daniel Iacofano, Chris Beynon and Alex Dupey with MIG stimulated dozens of comments from their presentation, articulated in one of their signature live recording exercises. Rather than recap it in exhaustive narrative, this is much more fun:


After the formal program, we broke into a neighborhood gallery exercise. Each of the 15 districts represented in the 2011 plan document were organized into dedicated space, exhibiting key recommendations and character sketches from the current plan. Through post-it note feedback, dialogue about the changing nature neighborhoods was encouraged: What’s new? What’s old? What do you want to see? What do you love? What do you wish? And if you could do just one thing … The responses were rich, personal and passionate (responses to each district will accompany this post):


In a debrief yesterday morning, Daniel, Chris, and Alex helped us begin to organize the conversation-starters, a process that will continue for the next several months. From the previous two days’ worth of meetings, it seems to boil down to two themes – mobility and livability. We want mobility principles that reflect the unique needs of urban Dallas, and for those principles to influence large regional transportation projects, as well as the local grid and its interface with the public realm. We want great street design that promotes multi-modal circulation, equalizing – or often prioritizing – access for pedestrians, bikes, and mass transit modes. We want to connect our districts and neighborhoods while preserving their authenticity, diversity, and character.  And building a livable Downtown is critical. We heard a calling for more usable public spaces – places for kids to play, dogs to roam, and all ages to recreate – as well as building a smart city and integrating technology into urban life and design. Attention to urban design and preservation is a priority, and diversity of housing product and price is a clear need, responding to new demographics, like families, who are living (with more coming!) in the center city. With that comes attention to jobs, entrepreneurs, start-ups, essential services and schools. In fact, equal to the applause for comments related to I-345 were those calling for schools, schools – good schools – and more schools.

But rest assured, this is only the beginning.

Through October, the Downtown Dallas 360 project team will be reaching out through a coordinated effort with neighborhood organizations and community groups to continue the dialogue. We want to know what you already have in the works, what is needed and how 360 can help. How do you see your neighborhood defined? What is its relationship to adjacent areas? And what are the issues that are shared and tie us all together? Our friends at buildingcommunityWORKSHOP use the phrase, “neighborhoods are not static,” which could not be more true. So help us evolve.

In addition to workshops, charrettes, forums and other in-person conversation, this website is a key tool for participation. Email us your thoughts. Stay tuned for updates. And very soon, buildingcommunityWORKSHOP will unveil a new crowd-sourced neighborhood mapping tool that will launch in partnership with 360. For the past several years, they have been engaging communities around the city to identify, confirm and record neighborhood names and boundaries. Over 300 have been mapped thus far, recognizing that Dallas has shifted dramatically in recent years – its cultural, social, political and economic geography.

Here’s how it will work:


All of your input will then shape the technical work of the plan that will start later in the year. Rather than profess today what we think “needs to be addressed,” we are designing the scope of the project with all of you. So talk to us. Tell your friends to talk to us. Tell us if there are organizations or groups we aren’t reaching. Our list of neighborhood and organizational partners (to be listed on our website shortly) is meant to grow.

Finally, a word about this site and blog. The web site (still a work in progress, thanks for your patience as we work the kinks out) is where you can keep up with plan documents, presentations and find out about upcoming events. The blog will be populated with editorial posts by 360 project team members and guests along the way, and we hope you will talk with us here as well. This is our Dallas, our Downtown, and our opportunity to keep it moving forward.

Tag, you’re it.

Kourtny Garrett

Downtown resident and mother of two, Dallas Farmers Market District
Downtown Dallas 360 Project Team
EVP-Downtown Dallas, Inc.

See you at the Downtown Dallas 360 Kick Off!

June 15, 2015


Pegasus stands watch over Downtown Dallas’ revitalization

June 10, 2015

Pegasus stands watch over Downtown Dallas’ revitalization

John Crawford, CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc. in front of the original Dallas Pegasus, now featured in front of the Omni Hotel in Dallas on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. (Michael Ainsworth/The Dallas Morning News)

John Crawford, CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc. in front of the original Dallas Pegasus, now featured in front of the Omni Hotel in Dallas on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. (Michael Ainsworth/The Dallas Morning News)

Only in Dallas, Where Horses Can Fly!

April 28, 2015

We have likely all experienced our unfair share of art and film this past month with Dallas Art Fair, Dallas International Film Festival, Deep Ellum Arts Festival, Dallas Arts Week, and the loads of parties that came with those events. But have you been Downtown lately and really soaked in the arts and public spaces? It seems like temporary (and some permanent!) public art installations have been popping up everywhere Downtown. It’s perfect timing too with the Congress of New Urbanism conference attendees here this week to discuss and collaborate on the demand for walkable places (and even building a temporary park in Deep Ellum!). One of the greatest assets of a walkable, urban neighborhood can be the little surprises you find during your everyday routine. Whether biking or walking, you’re sure to come across these gems along the way – enjoy them while you can!

Here are just a few of the recent public art installations you can find as you roam the streets of Downtown:

The original Pegasus, fabricated by Texlite Signs of Dallas and once perched atop the Downtown Dallas headquarters of the Magnolia Petroleum Co. from 1934 to 1999, has a new home in front of the Downtown Omni Dallas Hotel. Installation just began and should be complete in May. The restoration and installation of the Pegasus is the result of a partnership between the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs and Matthews Southwest. The two red flying horses measure 40 feet in length and 32 feet in height and are spaced 14 feet apart. In addition to a new derrick, weighing 12,000 lbs., and a new support structure, weighing 600 lbs., the flying red horse will incorporate a quarter mile of new neon light tubing and rotate upon completion.

SkaterBIRD is a new 22-foot tall sculpture by Brad Oldham (who also created the famed Traveling Man sculptures in Deep Ellum) atop the parking garage at 1200 Ross. Brad Oldham International moved into the ground floor of the parking garage in October – stop by and purchase your own smaller version of many of his sculptures!

The Encore Park Sculpture Wall “The Birth of a City” at 508 Park is a lost-wax bronze sculpture wall created by Brad Oldham and Christy Coltrin that features iconic and lesser-known visual stories unique to Dallas. These stories are told across ten 6-foot by 4-foot relief panels along Park Avenue and Young Street.

Mother Earth (#LookDallas) is a 6-foot photograph by Jeremy McKane that was installed at Main Street Garden in honor of Earth Day and will be up through Mother’s Day.

Photographer Richard Andrew Sharum has teamed up with five Downtown building owners to launch the largest street photography exhibit in Dallas history. Observe Dallas 2015 aims to portray instances of everyday life with unparalleled realism, and just received a $5,000 grant from the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs Public Art Program. You can see the photographs at these five Downtown buildings through May 31st: 211 North Ervay Street, 800 Main Street, 500 South Ervay Street, 325 North Saint Paul Street, and 601 Elm Street.

The Consulate General of Mexico in Dallas has helped bring in Wings of the City, an exhibit featuring nine of Jorge Marín’s sculptures. The works have been placed in locations in and around Downtown. It is the first time for the Consulate to bring sculpture work to the city, and the exhibit was previously in Discovery Green Park in Houston. Our favorite sculpture, a pair of wings with space between them, is on display at One Arts Plaza, giving people a perfect ‘angelic’ photo opportunity!

One Meter at a Time is a pilot program of temporary public art coordinated by the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs that contributes to the visual enhancement of Dallas streets. Selected artists were commissioned to create site-specific public art on the exterior of a set of 10 parking meters in four locations in Dallas. Downtown locations include Elm Street near the Majestic Theatre, Dallas Farmers Market, and Deep Ellum.

Just recently, Downtown Dallas, Inc. partnered with an art conservator to restore the bronze sculpture at Cancer Survivors Plaza. And speaking of parks and plazas, you can find the infamous B&G sculptures at Main Street Garden and Pegasus Plaza as part of the #DallasBIG campaign, where you can put the “I” in BIG.

Of course I’d be remiss if we didn’t mention our visual and performing arts and the many beautiful and significant sculptures in the nation’s largest contiguous urban arts district – the Dallas Arts District, the Dallas Design District, Deep Ellum’s many colorful outdoor murals and street art, the iconic 30’ Eye sculpture by Tony Tasset on Main Street across from The Joule Hotel, the cow sculptures designed by Harold F. Clayton along the Trinity Skyline Trail, and the 30’ tall Bowler Hat sculpture in the Cedars. And ArtPrize Dallas is coming to Downtown – providing even more opportunities to be engaged in public art, complete with the ability to vote on your favorite – for 19 days straight come April 2016.

And if you need another excuse to get Downtown as quickly as possible, you should consider attending one of these upcoming events:

  • Deep Ellum Instagram Scavenger Hunt – “Art Edition” on April 30th.
  • Celebrate Downtown – a must-see tour of rooftops and historic places brought to you by Downtown Dallas, Inc. and Preservation Dallas on May 2nd. You can get tickets at preservationdallas.org.
  • Homegrown Music and Arts Festival at Main Street Garden on May 9th.

Find a complete list of upcoming events at www.downtowndallas.com. Other resources: Public Art Walk and Pegasus Urban Trail.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 41,977 other followers