Case Study

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Client: City of Peoria

Peoria is a Midwestern town of 115,000 population, with a downtown area that includes corporate, governmental, convention, educational, and medical facilities. It’s home to Caterpillar, OSF Healthcare, Bradley University, and emerging entrepreneurs. It has a diverse set of physical assets that makes it a fertile ground for experiments in areas of water and energy, safety and security, and healthcare. 

The Challenge

How does a city with a diverse set of physical assets and community resources — yet limited budget — transform its legacy systems into the digital age in a way that improves quality of life for citizens and drives economic development?

His thesis was to create a next generation smart city, one where the community would identify problem statements that would form a platform for rapid testing and tech validation.

In eight weeks, Salt Flats led a community workshop of 50 attendees, captured and built an integrated platform of over 200 problem statements, and conducted a two-week tech validation with corporate partner JCI / Tyco.

In Q1 2017, results from the initial phase will create a three-year implementation plan.

By the Numbers

  • 8 weeks from start to finish to build the program
  • 50 community participants
  • $10,000 cost for initial pilot


  • Engaging a cross section of stakeholders within the community is a critical first step
  • Conducting a workshop captures problem statements and builds the 1.0 version of the tech validation platform 
  • Testing the right technology will lead to critical feedback and process improvement, which will inform the three-year implementation plan
  • Gaining quick wins will build community credibility and momentum, and a license to proceed’
City of Peoria Workshop
City of Peoria Collective Intelligence Workshop

Q+A With Anthony

Anthony Corso | AIA, LEED AP Chief Innovation Officer City of Peoria

What was your approach to the Workshop?

We have many diverse perspectives within our community representing a broad range of interests from public health and public safety to economic development and entrepreneurship. It was critical that we bring everyone together to gain alignment and to capture the initial problem statements the community sees as the most important to address.

Why build a next generation tech validation platform?

We see an opportunity to reimagine Peoria’s storied past as a testbed of entertainment and marketing and, in the process, work with industry and academic partners to recast how smart city technologies are validated. Historically, smart city programs have been slow, expensive, and executed in a one-off’ manner. We believe strongly in building an integrated platform based on systems thinking, which offers the opportunity for short tests that are executed in weeks as opposed to years. The future of Peoria will rely on open innovation and the ability to leapfrog. Utilization of an agile platform can allow us to learn quickly and adapt before investing and scaling.

What were the steps to deliver on the pilot?

In the lead-up to the community workshop, we sketched out the design of a smart city canvas. This framework was key to taking a deep dive into regional challenges and opportunities and landing on an initial set of problem statements to test on the ground.

The workshop allowed us to explore the horizontals and verticals of the canvas framework and to synthesize the problem statements. A stated goal going into the workshop was to select one problem statement as a short-term pilot test the platform concept.

The newly merged company JCI/​Tyco, and their VP Alex Kim, stepped up as a corporate partner to participate in the workshop and lead our first pilot. Alex has a wealth of smart city experience, and quickly connected our problem statement opportunities in creating smarter infrastructure to safety and security products and services he could test quickly within our city’s infrastructure. For his part, Alex has been provided insights at every step. Alex’ feedback has been invaluable to our tech validation platform that we rapidly built, deployed and delivered. 

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