Keynote at the ATC Smart Cities and IoT Conference

On The Road with Archethought

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It is an honor to have been invited down to Scottsdale by Steven Zylstra, President and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council, to keynote the second annual Smart Cities and IoT Conference. 

At first I felt a little trepidatious about presenting at such a gathering of impressive mind-share and thought leaders from industry, product innovators, government, and disruptive smart city champions. Yet, as the afternoon progressed it became quite clear that even though this event had brought together a vast diversity across organization and industry, we were all of the same mindset as we discussed the future needs of our cities, and populations.

Throughout the afternoon the same themes resonated from Steve, to Mayor Jonathan Rothschild of Tuscon, to the following speakers, panelists, and presenters. Those being - to better serve our communities we need to be more innovative, more collaborative, more open to policy and process change, and realize where our shortcomings are.

We heard about the innovation and opportunity that the Internet of Things is affording us in smart city programs today, and in years to come, can be projected as a $20 trillion economic opportunity. 

Conversations continued into the world of smart interconnected edge devices. As more edge devices come online in the urban environment, Urban IoT, it becomes evident that a higher need for edge compute, machine learning, artificial intelligence and intelligent devices is necessary in order to process the raw amount of data being produced.

However, with this proliferation of smart interconnected devices it was stated that cyber security becomes a real world problem municipal CIO's now face. A fact I reiterated during my keynote, and brought attention too after asking how many people in the room were in, or affiliated with, the cyber-security industry. Of the hundreds at the summit, only three presented themselves, and one individual remained at the end of day. Cyber-security in the realm of urban IoT is a chasm of opportunity, both for the attackers, and the defenders. 

Innovative government leaders shared how "scrappy" (Laurie Buczek from Gilbert, AZ) they need to be to drive and adopt technology innovation advancements in their cities. A tactic born of necessity due to the scarcity of knowledge, resources and funds when looking to deliver smart city programs and projects. A problem exasperated by industry that believes GO's operate on budgets and processes equal to the private sector.

Our cities can not be measured upon industry ROI metrics, but rather a holistic value-of-return model where multiple indirect benefits are taken into account - "You can't always quantify the things you do every day. The payback may be in serving the needs of the community and long-term cost savings," sentiments acknowledged by other city leaders.

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In short, there are no smart cities yet, but we are definitely on the right path with a solid journey of discovery ahead of us. On this journey we still have a lot of experimentation, learning, and mistakes to be discovered. 

Our cities have evolved Smart - to a degree - over a millennia, up to today's implementation of ICT's integrated into infrastructure in Smart City version 1.0, then by advancing government adoption of digital technology for operational efficiencies in Smart City 2.0, and today we embark on citizen and resident engagement in Smart City 3.0 where we gain input, feedback and adoption by our citizens.

Smart City 3.0 requires engagement with our citizens, design thinking towards the future, and collaboration between our cities for success, in doing these things we build collaborative intelligence between cities, between regions, and across the globe. As our cities begin to share experiences and learning across city, county and state lines we begin the evolution to smart regions.

The conference was great, the attendees, speakers and content was fantastic, the connections and conversations even more so. We look forward to continued collaborations and conversations with those we met.