Want a Crystal Ball for the U.S? Look to Miami-Dade.

October 5, 2018

The Greater Miami region is a diverse community with geographic gifts that attract both millions of visitors from around the world as well as devastating hurricanes. These advantages and challenges serve as a guide for the rest of the country as demographics shift and natural disasters become more prevalent.  

On September 7, Digi.City hosted a cross-section of leaders to discuss the role of smart city technology in the region’s response to local issues. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez and Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber gave opening remarks followed by a panel of community leaders, which included Chris Caines (FIU Miami Urban Future Initiative), Nelly Farra (eMerge Americas), Ana Paula Gonzalez (500 StartUps Miami), Alyce Robertson (Miami Downtown Development Authority) and Joe Russo (Launch Florida).

 (l-r) Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez and Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber

(l-r) Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez and Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber

Mayors Giménez and Gelber both underscored their openness not only to work with each other, but also to embrace contributions from industry and academia to advance digital infrastructure.  This is perhaps best demonstrated by the area’s impressive achievements in transportation. Since this is an issue that plagues many American cities, it is important to pay attention to their approach.

 (l-r) Chelsea Collier (Digi.CIty), Chris Caines (FIU Miami Urban Future Initiative), Ana Paula Gonzalez (500 StartUps Miami), Joe Russo (Launch Florida). Nelly Farra (eMerge Americas), ,Alyce Robertson (Miami Downtown Development Authority)

(l-r) Chelsea Collier (Digi.CIty), Chris Caines (FIU Miami Urban Future Initiative), Ana Paula Gonzalez (500 StartUps Miami), Joe Russo (Launch Florida). Nelly Farra (eMerge Americas), ,Alyce Robertson (Miami Downtown Development Authority)

Miami-Dade County is in the process of converting all 3,000 traffic signals to enable adaptive signal control and Transit Signal Priority, a mobility evolution that few cities in the U.S. have been able to accomplish. This is a part of a larger effort to convert 26,400 streetlights to SMART LED, allowing a countywide Internet of Things (IoT) network, which is the largest in the U.S.

Advancing connectivity is a priority for the region and is evident in the willingness to create partnerships with global technology companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Cisco and Ford. Mayor Gelber was quick to offer “local government cannot do it alone.” Mayor Giménez spoke of the challenges of expanding infrastructure to meet the needs of residents as well as visitors, which can swell population numbers by tens of thousands on popular holidays.

The Mayor offered that he is proud to champion initiatives that utilize advanced technology as a way to improve government, create greater efficiency, reduce costs and increase transparency in order to enhance quality of life for residents and visitors alike.

Alyce Robertson with the Miami Downtown Development Authority discussed a desire for even greater levels of collaboration. She noted that as a top destination for tourism that they must remain on the cutting-edge of initiatives that will attract investments from industry.  She commented that failing to embrace advanced technologies, including 5G, could result in a loss of jobs and economic opportunity.

 

FIU Miami Urban Future Initiative’s Chris Caines highlighted that 40 percent of the area’s workforce is in the service industry therefore providing a unique opportunity to deploy technology to ensure future prosperity for all.  He underscored that the public sector’s access and the private sector’s speed is the marriage that can ensure better and faster development of urban initiatives.

Nelly Farra echoed the sentiment and noted how the innovation from the private sector can boost local investment.  She stressed that government must continue to collaborate across sectors to ensure faster, more efficient deployment of resources. Greater digital access can elevate economic status, specifically for underserved communities.

Ana Paula Gonzalez with 500 StartUps Miami surfaced the topic of the 4th Industrial Revolution, emphasizing that maximizing technology is essential to maximize social impact. She highlighted multiple examples of how 500 Start Ups is partnering with local government to streamline government services and processes.

Joe Russo, Co-Chair of Launch Florida, spoke more specifically on the role of 5G and its potential to revolutionize the urban experience and enable new levels of innovation, particularly from startups. He recommended identifying local champions and then mobilizing partnerships.

Miami is well known for its vibrancy and passion. It is encouraging to know that these attributes extend beyond cultural attractions and also include the area’s commitment to infrastructure modernization. If Miami is truly a beacon of what is to come, the rest of the country would be well served to learn from Miami-Dade’s local leadership.

Chelsea Collier