A new survey has found that Tampa ranks among 21 cities around the world that qualify as “smart communities” to watch in 2018.

That distinction comes in the wake of ongoing reports that the number of technology workers in the Tampa Bay area is exploding. Already, Tampa digital marketing, SEO services and other technology-based companies have flourished in recent years.

The latest news came from Statescoop, a website dedicated to local and state government technology news.

“Tampa is a smart city in the making,” the report read.

Tampa’s Smart City Status

The city made the list because of efforts to integrate smart technology into the city’s services and neighborhoods.

Tampa recently won a $21 million grant from the federal Department of Transportation for a connected vehicle program involving 1,600 cars. That project will involve using information from local drivers and pedestrians through mobile apps and connected devices, the only effort in the United States to include local residents in such a program.

The program will focus on downtown Tampa and the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. The idea is to connect cars using GPS and sensors to communicate information on traffic hazards, slow traffic, pedestrians crossing roadways and other issues. It’s essentially a precursor to the technology needed for self-driving cars.

The other effort that helped the city make the list is the 53-acre Water Street Tampa project in downtown Tampa that will be one of the most connected communities ever built. It will include features such as free Wi-Fi, digital concierge services and smart parking.

Tampa Tech Workforce Growing

The Tampa area already has a growing tech workforce. Tampa digital marketing agencies, such as Bayshore Solutions, have helped establish the area as a hotbed for tech entrepreneurs and startups.

How hot? The area’s number of tech workers has grown faster than almost every other metro area in the U.S. The number of tech workers increased by more than 55% between 2011 and 2016. There are now more than 45,000 tech workers in the area.

Only Charlotte, N.C., grew faster, at 77 percent.

Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has made it a goal to establish Tampa and the region as a tech hub. In addition to helping fund Water Street Tampa, he also is providing funding to set up tech incubators and accelerators in the city.

He told TechCrunch he is committing millions to set up the area as a tech hub, luring companies to the area. He feels the area that starts with Tampa Bay on the west coast and runs east to Orlando has “every raw material in this region to actually boom over the next couple of decades. Tampa Bay to Orlando will be the next region.”

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