All over the world, smart technologies are revolutionizing urban life. They are making cities more livable (safer, healthier, more convenient, and more vibrant), more workable (more mobile, competitive, and innovative), and more sustainable (more energy efficient, resilient, and renewable). Ultimately, cities will become horizontal "Internet of Things” (IoT) platforms where individual applications fluidly interconnect via the Internet to maximize efficiency, productivity, and citizen ease-of-use. Indeed, many observers believe smart technology is essential for any city that wants to succeed in the 21st century digital economy.
However, the use of smart technology does not guarantee success. Done wrong, it can saddle a city with expensive technology "islands" that cannot interoperate, raise privacy concerns, expose the city to cyber-threats, or exclude some populations. Smart cities can only succeed if technology is in service to the city's larger goals.
In addition, there are significant challenges that the U.S. is facing in successfully scaling and accelerating the adoption of smart technologies. In an earlier blog on harnessing IoT for cities to meet 21st century challenges, I listed the nine challenges that appear most prominent to our industry.
Fortunately, there are numerous smart people who are aware of the myriad opportunities and challenges ahead, and many of them will be here this week in Washington, D.C. to collaborate.
The White House Smart Cities Forum, being held this afternoon, will bring together “leading thinkers and practitioners from government, the research community, cities, civil society, and the tech sector to discuss the multi-sector collaborations that will help our cities thrive in the 21st century.” The Forum will include discussion of new steps that the Administration and others are taking to accelerate the development of smart cities in the U.S., and will feature the new Envision America Initiative that was unveiled this afternoon in Charlotte.
Tomorrow begins the Smart Cities Council’s “Smart Cities Week Conference and Exhibition,” which is now sold-out. As Co-chair of the Council’s Policy Committee, I have the privilege of being involved with two particular sessions. A keynote breakfast will be held on Wednesday morning with a visiting senior Chinese government delegation, including: Mr. Ding YouLiang of the Zhong Cheng Smart City Construction Research Society (SCCRS) and Mr. Jianping Li, Secretary General of the Zhong Cheng SCCRS.
Immediately thereafter, a plenary session will be held on the federal government’s role in smart cities. A natural follow-up to today’s White House Forum, the session will include top officials from the White House, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Energy, as well as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), co-Chair of the Congressional Internet of Things Caucus.
I am looking forward to a fascinating few days, with the objective of helping ITI to further ensure that smart cities deliver on their vast transformational potential.