The short-term funding bill that Congress recently passed is the most inefficient and expensive way to govern, U.S. Rep Suzan DelBene (D-WA) told city leaders and technologists gathered for Smart Cities Week Silicon Valley.
There’s not much certainty in budgeting in 60 or 90 day cycles, said Rep. DelBene, who serves on the House Ways and Means and Budget Committees and is also a leading Congressional advocate for smart technologies.
“When we look at opportunities in new technologies, in deploying new technologies, we need to have a long-term view,” said DelBene. She would like to see Congress set goals and invest “modest federal funds” in smart cities pilots to better understand their potential and establish best practices.
Making important infrastructure investments that leverage smart technologies can save money in the long run. She mentioned how the city of Seattle deployed sensors that provide micro weather reports for neighborhoods across the city – enabling, for instance, early detection of flooding and the ability to mitigate problems early on. Being pre-emptive rather than reactive saves money and provides better citizen service, DelBene suggested.
Challenges city leaders
“My challenge to you,” she told Smart Cities Week participants, “Is to keep thinking big, come up with great ideas and try things.”
It’s also important to understand the opportunities advanced technologies and connectivity unleash, not just on the coasts, but in regions across the country. DelBene cited her own 1st Congressional District in Washington State that runs from the eastern suburbs of Seattle where technology companies thrive to the rural “dairies and berries” communities that stretch up to the Canadian border.
“In all parts of our region,” she said, “there are huge opportunities when talking technology.”
And DelBene certainly knows technology. In more than two decades as an executive and entrepreneur, she spent 12 years at Microsoft, at one point as corporate vice president of the company’s mobile communications business. She also helped start drugstore.com as its vice president of marketing and store development, and served as CEO and president of Nimble Technology, a business software company.
A member of Congress since 2012, DelBene is co-chair of the House Internet of Things Caucus, the House Women in Technology Caucus and the recently launched Congressional Caucus on Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality Technologies.
The May 8-10 event in Santa Clara was the first West Coast Smart Cities Week conference and exhibition hosted by the Smart Cities Council. The Council presents its third annual Smart Cities Week in Washington, D.C. in October.