Silicon Hollywood: LA is Moving Beyond the Big Screen to Create a Smarter City

This Spring, I joined with local leaders at the Digi.City Connects event at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) to discuss how next-generation, connected technology can improve how people experience their city. Long known for industry connected to the silver screen, LA is now the home to new levels of innovation. From art, design, and mobility to education, civic engagement, and social innovation – it’s all happening in a new and exciting way.

Justin Erbacci with the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), Dawn Comer with the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angelos, Tham Nguyen with LA Metro, and Chris Rico with  Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) discussed the opportunities and challenges of bringing new, innovative capabilities to a county with more than 10 million residents.

Foundational to this change is updating and improving LA’s digital infrastructure. Some of that entails tangible technology such as facial recognition technology and sensors that are creating a more seamless airport experience for both travelers and maintenance crews.

The City of Los Angeles is also signaling its openness to new ideas. LA Metro’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation, for example, created a new “unsolicited proposals” process to allow the private sector to bypass the often cumbersome government procurement processes and pitch mobility solutions directly to them for review and evaluation.

This approach is paying off. To date, Metro has received 113 unsolicited proposals, including many with advanced technology components. These include using drones to monitor infrastructure to solutions for first/last mile, on demand services to help riders better access public transit options and more.

These updated metro and airport systems will not realize their promise unless the underlying digital infrastructure is there to support it. Being a smarter city mandates investment in next-generation wireless networks that will be paramount to supporting connected technology solutions. A solid foundation of integrated infrastructure makes connections possible. Specifically, 5G, or the fifth-generation of wireless, will support millions of new devices, sensors, and apps, creating new possibilities and opportunities for the residents of LA County.

Local leaders are finding new ways to work together in an effort to find new solutions to old challenges. Public-private sector collaboration is essential and merges a variety of resources, experiences and perspectives. By collaborating and considering what is possible, it is possible to  steer LA into a new era of innovation that get to the heart of issues that will meaningfully impact the lives of LA residents.

And the City prepares to welcome the world for the 2028 Olympics, it is time to make bold, transformative changes across the region. Over the next decade, lasting improvements and investments in infrastructure and innovation can result in real growth and opportunity for Los Angeles County residents.

LA has gone beyond being a one-conversation town. The City will always  honor its past and is also signalling that they are ready to grow in new directions to capitalize on talent in order to active truly transformative opportunities for all Angelinos.