Beverly Rider Gives Smart Cities Some Advice

Smart cities is a quickly evolving area in the U.S., following in the footsteps of global leaders like Barcelona, Amsterdam and Beijing. I had the chance to talk with Beverly Rider, Vice President of Enterprise IoT & Smart Cities with Ericsson, at a Digi.City Connects event in Austin, Texas, about the future of smart cities, the internet of things (IoT) and connected technologies. The result is meaningful insight and some clear advice to city leadership as they transform their own urban areas.

Beverly wisely stated, “Every city has its own character, its own mission and what is most important to what the citizens are wanting to accomplish.” That specialized approach may be judged as haphazard and inefficient as each city across the US crafts their own solutions.  But through collaboration and clear goal setting, a more streamlined approach is possible.

“When citizens and private and public partnerships are defining the roadmap, that is a Smart City. If we’re going to have Smart Cities, it has to have all three of those components.”

So what is the future of smart cities?


Beverly warns, “There has to be a shift to wanting to share information, not hold onto information… to work together, not stay in your silo.” And that gets easier when different groups who may not work well together can connect to the mission.  “It doesn’t have to just be smart, it has to be fun, it needs to be engaging… in order to bring everyone into it.”

The conversation shifted to the idea that it is easy to take technology for granted. I made the comment, “Tech is invisible and we only notice it when it doesn’t work the way we want it to, at our command.” Which emphasizes the need to define the foundational elements of a Smart City. These can include engagement strategies for public and private stakeholders or how to formulate a framework for municipal priorities. It can also include more technical elements such as ensuring there is a commitment to invest in fast and reliable mobile broadband networks.

What is the role of 5G? 


Beverly provided a forecast for 5G, the wireless network that will enable the next evolution of Smart City innovation. Understanding that almost anything that can be connected, and will be connected, she illustrates that cities are best served when there is a partnership with network operators to ensure the right mix – or mesh – of  connectivity is utilized. The race is on to build out robust networks that can “allow for millions of sensors.” Beverly firmly declared, “I do think 5G will permeate… It will happen before 2020.“

Smart cities in action

Finally, Beverly left us with some great – and very cool – examples of Smart City innovation at work including tattoos that deliver health stats to doctors and a program in LA where 10,000 trees were outfitted with IP-enabled sensors so that citizens can send and receive email about their tree (if there was wilt or if a limb needed to be cut) and every so often the tree emails back asking, “Do you like the air I’m helping you breathe today?” More than 100, 000 trees have been planted as a result.

These are just a few examples of Smart City technology in action and an overview of the opportunities and challenges to come.  For the full interview, click here to view on the RCR Wireless YouTube Channel. 

Published on Industrialiot5g