Social Innovation in Las Vegas

By Hubert Yoshida posted 04-18-2018 00:00


This week I had the opportunity to hear Michael Sherwood, Director of Technology and Innovation for the city of Las Vegas talk about the IoT innovations that he helped implement there. For Michael, IoT is less about the technology and more about the outcome in terms of making the city safer, smarter, healthier and saving money for the city through greater efficiencies. The bottom line drives the story and like Hitachi, he works to a double bottom line. One is the business bottom line and the other is the bottom line for society. This fits perfectly with Hitachi’s vision for social innovation.

Some of projects that he has been able to implement are a self-driving shuttle, smart Intersections, smart trash collection, and a smart edge network.


The self-driving shuttle project is called “Hop On”. The autonomous vehicle, which launched last November, is limited to eight passengers as it travels along a 3/5-mile loop in downtown Las Vegas. Locals and tourists may ride for free. If you have been to Las Vegas you’ve experienced the long walks between the hotels, where it doesn’t justify the cost of a taxi or Uber. However, walking between hotels can be exhausting. The city blocks are long, and the proportions of hotels are so gigantic that the perception of distances are distorted. The first glitch with Hop On occurred within hours of its launch. A semi truck backed into the shuttle before it could go into reverse to avoid the collision. Fortunately no one was hurt. The first lesson learned was to put a horn on the shuttle to warn other drivers.

Sensors and cameras at intersection can monitor the flow of traffic and optimize traffic signals to minimize the wait time for vehicles and pedestrians, cutting down on carbon emissions from idling cars. Cameras can monitor public places not only for safety, but also for trash collection. Now instead of scheduling trash on a time table, whether it was required or not, the trash can be collected on demand, freeing up workers to do other tasks like graffiti removal.


Las Vegas owns the majority of its streetlights and the city is upgrading these fixtures to create an intelligent platform not only for lighting but also as a security and communications network. Each upgrade includes multi colored led lights, a module for a security camera system and options for fibre, WiFi, and cellular connectivity. Other modules that maybe included are gunshot detection and LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) that uses pulsed lasers to measure distances. When multiple streetlights are connected together, they can create a mesh network to enable automated actions like light driven alerts that are managed locally rather than requiring a connection back to a cloud.

When asked what Hitachi platforms are involved in these projects, he mentioned Hitachi’s Visualization Suite and Pentaho. Hitachi’s HVP camera solutions empower edge recording and compute, which is a key component to addressing network efficiency and policy for video storage/access. Michael emphasized the need for analytics which he believes will be the next big thing over the coming 5 years.

Michael was also asked if it is hard to attract talent to Las Vegas to work on these projects. Michael said that he did not have a problem in attracting the right people. The talent is drawn to these projects in Las Vegas, not for the money but for the vision and a chance to be part of something that is truly innovative.