Smart Cities experts: Collaboration is key

Government, academia and the private sector all have a role in Smart Cities.
Government, academia and the private sector all have a role in Smart Cities.

Cities must work with companies, universities, other cities and organizations to truly realize the Smart Cities vision. This was a consistent message at last week’s Smart Cities Innovation Summit, where leaders from more than 200 cities met with technology and service providers and academics to talk about new innovations that will improve the lives of citizens across the globe.

In conjunction with the conference, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) hosted its Global Cities Team Challenge (GCTC) Expo.  Throughout the events, one message rang out loud and clear: cities that collaborate will be more successful.

“It’s not what a Smart City is; it’s what a Smart City does.” - Dr. Sokwoo Rhee, Associate Director of Cyber-Physical Systems Program, NIST

One of the best ways cities can collaborate is to create Smart Cities projects that are replicable. Dr. Rhee encouraged cities to share their successes with one another to promote technological advancements.  As cities learn how to adopt technologies that benefit their citizens, their experience and knowledge can help other cities quickly adopt similar solutions.

“Collaboration is the ‘new competition’.” - Former Governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley

Collaborations with the private sector were strongly encouraged. And not just between governments and companies, but between companies themselves.  The Mayor of Austin, Steve Adler, told the audience that a “Smart City is one that recognizes that they cannot act alone and that they need to work with others to approach technology.”

The presentation of nearly a hundred innovative projects underscored O’Malley’s and Adler’s messages.  Each is a joint effort of companies and local government partners. The exciting projects ranged from suits for emergency workers that garner biometric information to tracking devices that protect victims of domestic abuse. Throughout the conference, companies expressed excitement over sharing what they are accomplishing and looked for opportunities to partner with other companies to advance their initiatives.

Most companies recognize the value of specializing in what they do best and teaming up with companies that specialize in other technologies.  As a result, many Smart City solutions are the compilation of dove-tailed technologies delivered by a team of “best in class” companies.

“A Smart City thinks about how everyone plays into a solution.” - Mark Dowd, USDOT Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

Not only should we work together to create solutions, but we should consider how the solutions will affect citizens and develop relationships between stakeholders.  This is a refreshing perspective as we put the excitement of new technologies aside and remember that the purpose of employing them is to better the lives of our citizens and improve our local economies.

“People live in cities. But, we live also in the world.  We are obligated to share what we have learned with the rest of the world.” - Jack Mikkers, Mayor of Veldhoven, The Netherlands

Every project presented specifically addressed a real challenge that a local government is facing and provided solutions that would have an impact on the people of that community.  As we continue to develop advanced technologies, let us remember to collaborate with other cities, companies, universities, organizations, and even countries, to improve lives and better our world.




About Author

Jennifer Robinson

Global Government Strategic Advisor

Jennifer Robinson is SAS’ Global Government Strategic Advisor, working to help governments maximize the use of their data through data integration, data management, and analytics. Her career in software development is complemented by the opportunity to serve as a local elected leader for the last 24 years. Jennifer co-wrote the book A Practical Guide to Analytics for Government and is featured in the book Smart Cities, Smart Future. In addition to writing articles and blogs about data-driven governing, she speaks with government leaders about emerging technologies and how to strategically adopt them.

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