If you’re like me (and Oprah), you crave “tweet-able moments”: those scraps of conversation that set something off in you and reach the truly real. Smart Cities Connect Conference and Expo in National Harbor was nothing if not tweet-able. We reached for everything from comparisons to mackerel (apparently, they are quite agile) to cat herders; we had our share of memorable moments. Below are a few of our favorites. Let us know what you think at #scc19 @smartcityc.
“Be nimble and agile. Whatever policy or strategy you come up with – it’s going to change. Be flexible and leverage partnerships as much as possible.” Kenya Asli, City of Baltimore
From someone who got her start in community building, Kenya Asli speaks to the heart of things: we can’t build perfect systems. They grow and evolve, and the community impact shapes all of it. Be prepared to show up, courageous enough start, and humble enough to enjoy the journey, even when it doesn’t go the way you hope it will.
“Not all technologies feel the same for every community.” Ruthbea Clarke, IDC Research
Hello, equity. What some residents may see as an amenity, others may view as a diminishing construct. Consider your population, how to communicate effectively and build trust. Transparency, grassroots outreach, and listening are great first steps.
“The strategic list I see from most cities is like a Christmas list. On one end, you’ve got a slingshot, on the other end, a pony. There has to be a framework in place to help cities work through this, and we should not start with tech.” Charlie Nobles, Ubicquia
As a long-time sales person in the infrastructure space, Charlie is a surprising proponent of starting with the city need, rather than the tech. Or is he? Having worked with countless municipal clients over the years, he imparts wisdom about listening and then lining up the right solutions. If you start with the hammer, everything is a nail, right?
“I’m excited for the potential that exists in the greatest sensor of all time: the smart phone.” Mark Patton, Smart Columbus Partnership
Who even thinks about a smart phone and the power that tiny device imparts, these days? We almost take it for granted, but it’s such a huge part of daily life. The potential Mark outlines speaks not only to how ubiquitous it has become, how synonymous with some of our most basic interaction, but also how it could continue to surprise us. I remember when my Razr flip phone felt like a revolution, and now I can speak to my city through an app, order food, navigate through the public transit system in NYC, and schedule my entire day in the palm of my hand. What else might be possible?
“I don’t look at a city for what’s smart; I look at what they want to accomplish.” Patricia “Patti” Zullo, Spectrum Enterprise
It could be said that where we want to go is more important than where we are, especially in a day of exciting innovation. Many municipalities are on the cusp of something big – they’re laying down the infrastructure and committing to strategies that will launch them into the future. It’s not about shiny objects and bragging rights; it’s about the path you’re on and the future you’ve committed to deliver to your residents.
“I am an expert on autonomous vehicles; I own a Roomba.” Jarrett Stoltzfus, Proterra, Inc.
Yes, it’s funny and oversimplified, but it’s also eerily appropriate. Consider how things we already know and understand could have broader reach and importance in the future.
We hope to see you in Denver at our largest event yet, our annual spring iteration of Smart Cities Connect Conference and Expo, April 6-9, 2020. We are accepting panel submissions through October 25, 2019; help us mold the conversation.