Toward a smarter Lewes

April 8, 2022

Lewes is a small, historic town by the sea with a beautiful canal, gentle bay, rolling ocean, sunsets that inspire, beaches that beckon, and a community that cares. Lewes in Bloom is just one example of the community taking ownership and adding to the tranquility that is Lewes. A special place to live or visit.

But growth and change are inevitable. Lewes is a gem amid the fastest-growing region in Delaware. Its rich history must be preserved, but pressure is building – and I mean "building." More houses, more cars, more businesses. The physical infrastructure is being stretched to the limit. Roads and parking are congested. All the while Mother Nature has surprises up her sleeve: Nor' easters, hurricanes, floods.

The challenges facing Lewes are complex and changing. One approach is to meet progress with progress while leveraging best practices from other towns. Let's make Lewes the most sustainable, the most connected and smartest little old town in Delaware with an integrated technical infrastructure that serves to enhance the quality of living by reducing unnecessary friction and making life easier and safer. An integrated technical infrastructure would enable services that depend upon accurate and timely information and automation strategies.

While ripe for discussion, my intuition tells me that traffic, parking, flooding, security and sustainability are probably high on the list of concerns. Some ideas to help address these might include the following:

• Adaptive traffic lights strategically located to enable coordinated traffic flow that can respond to emergencies and optimize flow to and from the hospital, beaches, ferry and Cape Henlopen

• Parking finder to enable motorists to easily locate open parking spaces

• Water level monitoring with flood detection placed in the canals and streams that flow through and around Lewes would provide valuable information useful for both storms and climate change.

As population density increases, security becomes a higher priority. Small towns like Franklin, Mass., notify their residents in real time when significant events in the town occur using phone and texting. As a result of being proactive, Franklin has been one of the safest towns in the country.

As a seaside town, energy sustainability and resilience will have a direct impact on Lewes. What are some creative options for dealing with these issues? Would community solar, storage and demand response programs help?

Change doesn't happen overnight. What's needed is a strategic vision and a plan. A technical services framework and roadmap into the future. The framework would identify core functionality that is common such as targeted real-time notifications and alerts, and secure online visualization and status monitoring.

One last thought: "If you don't know where you are going, any place will do."

May Lewes never lose the character that makes it all that it is while becoming the smartest town in the First State. Not just the First Town.

Dave Hardin, PE
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