Over the last few years the City of San Leandro, California, has been quietly staking its claim as one the greenest and smartest up-and-coming cities in the world. It also shows no signs of relenting. Since 2013, this city has made quite some waves in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco regional area by installing an 11-mile fiber optic data loop as part of a transformative public-private partnership (P3) agreement. This article here talks about the transformation of a smarter greener San Leandro: committing to a clean energy future with a community-powered microgrid.

What is a Smart City?

A smart city uses communication and information technology to share information with the public and provide a better quality of citizen welfare and government service. It also improves operational efficiency. The main goal of a smart city is to promote economic growth and optimize city functions. It also improves the quality of citizens by using smart data analysis and technologies. The value of a smart city is based on how technology is used and not on how much energy is used.

Also Read: Evolving Smart City Approaches: Path and Journey

How Smart Cities Work?

JAN 23 A Smarter Greener San Leandro Committing to a Clean Energy Future with a Community Powered Microgrid 2
By Jay Skyler from Unsplash+

Before learning about a smarter greener San Leandro: committing to a clean energy future with a community-powered microgrid, let’s learn how smart cities work. Smart cities have a network of connected IoT devices and other technologies. To improve the quality of life and enable economic growth, smart cities follow these 4 steps-

  • Collection- The smart sensors installed gather real-time data.
  • Analysis- To gain insights into the operation of city services, the city data is analyzed.
  • Communication- The results of the data analysis are then communicated to the decision-makers.
  • Action- The action is taken to manage assets, and improve operations as well as the quality of city life for the residents.

What characteristics determine a city’s smartness?

A city’s smartness can be determined using these set of characteristics-

  • People are able to work and live within a city while also using its resources.
  • Progressive and confident city plans.
  • Highly functional and effective public transportation.
  • An infrastructure built around technology.
  • Environmental initiatives.

Also Read: 3 Big Ideas for the Smart City of 2050

How Did San Leandro Work With the Local Businesses and Property Owners to be Smarter and Greener?

To be greener and smarter, San Leandro city worked with the local businesses and property owners to-

  • Successfully secure $2.1 million in matching grant funding from the S. Department of Commerce to expand the reach of the fiber network to almost 20 miles.
  • Connect all 17 San Leandro Unified School District sites to a synchronous and dedicated 10 Gbps Internet connection via strands of fiber donated by the City of San Leandro.
  • Launch the Founders Circle initiative that would bring the City’s top corporate citizens and executives together to identify priorities and next steps for improving energy systems and growing local labor talent.
  • Establish the City of San Leandro as a hub for addictive and advanced manufacturing. It resulted in the creation of the Bay Area Advanced Manufacturing hub (BAAM) which is the largest 3D printing hub under one roof in the world.

Improve as well as expand the LINKS Shuttle service. It connects more areas of the City with transit. It also supports the growth of synergies between economic development initiatives and real estate.


Greg Delaune is an internationally recognized consultant, teacher, speaker, and writer specializing in sustainable economic development and public-private partnerships (PPPs) for Green Cities and Smart Cities. He is cofounder and CEO of The Urban Innovation Exchange (UIX Global), founder and editor of the blog IMPACT URBANISM, and Strategic Partnership Chair for The Cleantech Open Western Region.

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