How Philadelphia is getting connected beyond brotherly love
Source: ReadWrite on April 27, 2017 | James Calder
I am proud of my adopted home City of Philadelphia for many reasons, but yesterday that pride grew a little greater when I heard the news that Philadelphia was named one of five U.S. cities to win a Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge Grant.
According to a city press release, Philadelphia will receive a tailored Readiness Workshop during 2017, to develop a roadmap for applying smart technologies to further innovation, inclusion, and investment within the City. The City will also receive ongoing feedback and guidance from the Council, as well as supporting products and services from Council member companies and advisors.
Last year, I wrote about the race for smart cities and why Philadelphia should not be overlooked. The rest of the world is finally realizing the potential of our great city and the hard work of our Internet of Things and technology innovators.
“Smart cities are cities where everyone works together toward a common vision, and we were especially impressed with the collaborative environment that Philadelphia is building,” said Smart Cities Council Chairman Jesse Berst. “We and our partners look forward to helping the city build upon this great head start to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the city’s residents.”
Recently, I had a chance to interview Philadelphia’s Mayor Jim Kenney about this very topic. For those that don’t know the Mayor, he has been an advocate for Philly’s tech scene and for growing and supporting all of the innovative companies in this region of the country. The Mayor has made it clear that he views technology and startups an important part of Philadelphia’s present and future.
“Philadelphia’s tech and startup scene is robust, diverse in every sense, and inclusive,” Kenney said. “We are at the forefront of development of new technologies in key industries like healthcare and advanced manufacturing.”
According to the Mayor, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently released a report ranking 25 cities on their readiness to capitalize on the ongoing shift to a digital economy. Philadelphia ranked 8th – ahead of New York and DC.
“That shows our potential,” Mayor Kenney said. “Tech and startups are not just an important part of the future of our city, they are important to the future of this entire nation. For us to remain competitive we must continue to learn and figure out how to integrate technology into our more traditional institutions.”
Philadelphia technology CEO, Felicite Moorman leads two Internet of Things (IoT) companies located in the East Falls section of the city. BuLogics has been a crucial part of the IoT since 2003, and StratIS is the Smart Start for Smart Cities. Full disclosure, Moorman is also my boss, but more importantly my respected leader.
“Mayor Kenney undoubtedly is an advocate for the technology community but more importantly, I think he will further the philosophy of the City of brotherly love and sisterly affection,” Moorman said. “In today’s state of political divide I think his stance on what it means to be a community is more important than ever, and I couldn’t be more impressed or grateful.”
Smart cities need smart mayors
It is important for smart cities to have smart mayors and we certainly have that in Philadelphia.
“Tech startups have a multiplier effect of almost 5x, meaning for every one job created, you have the potential of creating five more,” Kenney said. “That’s not just five more tech jobs either – it’s five jobs, period. In any industry. For Philadelphia this is a crucial measure. We have the highest poverty rate of all the big cities in the United States. More tech companies translates to more jobs, and ultimately more tax revenue for the City.”
Our teams at StratIS and BuLogics are prime examples of that. We are growing at a rapid rate and recruiting talented software engineers and other key positions, from around the corner and across the globe.
Moorman advises that the Mayor needs the right team and point people to head smart cities initiatives.
“The project and possibilities are endless. The focus has to be consistent and holistic in order to really take advantage of all of the opportunities that smart cities provide,” she said. “I think Philadelphia is an excellent place to pilot programs, and be an example to the world, not just the United States. This person should be somebody with a technology background, so they can sift through the hype, but also have an understanding of how to work bureaucracy and public private partnership’s effectively and efficiently.”
Moorman knows firsthand that a lot of the technologies in smart cities pilots are not yet commercially viable. “This means that they are not producing a return on investment for the private individuals who would invest in the technologies and rely almost solely on public funding,” she said. “While these technologies are novel and sometimes innovative, the lack of viability from a financial standpoint will create longer adoption timelines than necessary.”
Already on their way?
The Mayor believes that Philadelphia is already on its way to becoming a smart city