The Smart City Connection

Published in Industrial IoT 5G on May 24, 2016

Technology, policy and IoT connecting the smart city

You may have heard of the term “Connector” popularized by Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. I am one of them and I know that Connectors are happiest when they are doing these two things: (1) Connecting people or (2) Celebrating how seemingly separate things come together.

The recent advent and rise of IoT and Smart Cities is a Connector’s dreamland. What other subject integrates next-generation technology, the fusion of civic government and private sector innovation, and social impact issues like mobility, affordability and sustainability? Smart Cities address some of the world’s largest challenges at the most local level.  

There is no better place to learn urban tech best practices than in the most densely populated areas of the world. This October I will be traveling to China on a 2016 Zhi-Xing China Eisenhower Fellowship to research, listen and learn about Smart City innovation and investment.  My research will center on best practices and lessons learned across both the US and China. My role is to connect – or bridge – communities, industry experts and elected officials with the goal of sharing information that benefits all. I am so honored to study this rich area that fuses innovation and inspiration in the most interesting cities across the globe.

As the world becomes more urbanized, it is increasingly important that we continue to explore new ways to work together to discover creative, technology-driven solutions. Using this approach, cities truly can be the epicenter of innovation. However this can only be realized when there is collaboration and partnership between the public and private sectors.

When traditional “command and control” bureaucracy rules, progress is stymied and inefficiency reigns.  As Grant Millin, Guest Columnist, Citizen Times writes, “What is needed is a unifying communications and collaboration system not necessary managed by government only.” Leadership within city government would be wise to embrace a forward-thinking approach that encourages new ideas and new approaches to collaboration.

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