With a drive to turn Dallas County into a ‘smart county', the North Texas Innovation Alliance (NTXIA) is fostering a collaborative ecosystem of public and private bodies to roll out tech advancements. Recently, NTXIA held a Drone & Robotics Demo Day, marking a significant stride in harnessing unmanned aircraft systems and robotics technologies.
NTXIA's origins trace back to the Dallas Innovation Alliance's pioneering work in 2015. Today, it represents a broad spectrum of North Texas partners. Jen Sanders, cofounder and executive director of NTXIA, stresses that the region's dynamism, marked by routine cross-county travel for work and leisure, necessitates a collective approach, particularly for cost efficiency and scaling purposes.
Assistant Administrator for Dallas County, Jonathon Bazan, a longtime supporter of the alliance's work, hailed NTXIA's value in stimulating larger-scale innovation due to its deep-rooted connections with resources committed to the newest technologies and optimal practices. “For Dallas County, and the city of Dallas, it's a great treasure to have in our backyard,” Bazan said.
The recent demo day acquainted county officials with technologies that align with Dallas County's smart goals, as encapsulated in the Smart County Blueprint, reportedly unveiled in 2021. “One of those [goals] had to do with drones, and really exploring drone usage and how Dallas County can improve its operations and enhance service delivery by use of drones,” Bazan revealed.
To facilitate effective demonstrations, representatives from various departments, such as the Sheriff's Department and the Public Works Department, lent their expertise. They identified issues that these innovative technologies could potentially address. Bazan cited examples of drones enhancing security in jail facilities and parking garages and managing fire incidents and illegal dumping, besides being valuable tools in data collection. As for robotics, potential applications include advanced cleaning and customer service.
Officials, largely unaware of these technologies' potential applications, particularly in robotics, found the gathering an eye-opening platform for generating ideas. Sanders emphasized that county stakeholders are considering these technologies' short, mid, and long-term benefits. “The response was, ‘What's next?'” said Sanders.
Bazan mentioned that the event in Texas has spurred department leaders to schedule a meeting to discuss potential pilot projects emanating from this regional collaboration. Thus, the NTXIA's fusion of entities is shaping the future of tech implementation in Dallas County.
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