While many people associate Orlando with its booming tourism industry, many do not realize that Orlando is paving the way for a more eco-friendly and sustainable future. In fact, Orlando is ranked as one of the greenest cities in America by EcoWatch. The region was recently elected as an innovative training ground for autonomous vehicles. Orlando is a top city for urban farming (Redfin 2016) and is one of only five cities awarded the Smart City Council Readiness Challenge grant in 2017.

Orlando was recently selected to be part of the 2017 Smart City Council Readiness Challenge. Orlando will receive hands on guidance from the Smart Cities Council, a network of leading companies advised by top universities, laboratories, and standards bodies, to develop a comprehensive smart city plan. Orlando and Orange County plan to implement smart transportation solutions that can enhance the visitor experience while improving safety and reducing congestion, including the integration of sensors and advanced communications systems into public safety programs.

“The Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge grant award is a historic opportunity to develop a comprehensive smart city roadmap that will work to combine our sustainability initiatives with the technology industry to continue positioning Orlando as an innovative and attractive place to live, work, play and raise a family in the 21st century,” said Orlando Sustainability Director, Chris Castro. “As a global tourist destination, we also hope to showcase a range of smart cities solutions that can be a model for other cities around the world.”

Orlando and Central Florida were also recently nominated to become an innovation center for automated vehicle technology. The U.S. Department of Transportation has designated Orlando and the Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partnership as an automated vehicle proving ground site. The Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partnership includes local academic, private sector and government agencies working together to provide the foundation for the safe testing, application demonstration and deployment of new automated vehicle technologies. Orlando is poised to become a source for new vehicle technology that will be deployed around the world.

Orlando institutions such as Florida Polytechnic University and University of Central Florida (UCF) are already leading the way in automatized vehicle research. Florida Polytechnic, collaborating with Florida Turnpike Enterprise, is building the SunTrax testing facility: a 400-acre site with an opening set for fall 2018. The UCF Center for Advanced Transportation Systems Simulation is nationally recognized for advancing modeling technology, and UCF’s transportation and simulation labs specialize in understanding the human-machine interface.

In addition to smart infrastructure planning, Orlando has developed a unique and progressive urban farming movement. Ranked in the top five best cities for urban farming, several Orlando organizations are working to reshape the city’s food system, including Fleet Farming and Growing Orlando.

As a future leader in sustainability and smart technology, Orlando has so much more to offer than its renowned attractions.