Business leaders, government officials, tech leaders and others are converging on Washington, D.C this week to attend Smart Cities Week. As the director of marketing for an Internet of Things (IoT) software company, I am closely following advancements in smart cities. Our company STRATIS recently joined legendary tech companies like AT&T, Cisco, Microsoft, and IBM who have partnered with the Smart Cities Council (the organization that created the Smart Cities Week) to create the foundation for smarter cities.
I reached out to Connie Heath, Director, Partner Engagement for the Smart Cities Council to find out more about what Smart Cities Week stands for and how cities are getting smarter.
“In its third year, Smart Cities Week brings together government officials and smart cities experts from all over the world to explore how smart technology can solve tough urban challenges,” Heath said. “Located in Washington, D.C., this year’s theme focuses on how Smart Infrastructure Enables Smart Cities to create more advantages for our citizens, our cities, and towns, our business and industry – and along the way, our planet.”
As most cities, towns, and municipalities across the world can understand, that is a huge undertaking. The event explores and promotes the investment in smart infrastructure via conversation, collaboration, and coordination.
“We hosted over 1,400 participants last year, which is about the same number we expect this week,” Heath said. “The difference that we’re seeing is that we are attracting more public sector attendees year over year, which means that the message is getting out that smart technologies really are making a difference and they want to learn straight from their peers and the industry experts we bring in for the event.”
Those experts include Tom Steyer, Founder and President, NextGen Climate; Mike Zeto, Executive Director, Smart Cities, AT&T; and David Nemtzow, Director, Building Technology Office, U.S. Department of Energy. Pat Vincent-Collawn, Chair of the Edison Electric Institute and more. “This year, participants will have the opportunity to attend workshops, keynote addresses, intimate roundtable discussions, panel sessions, and networking breaks,” Heath said. “We also feature case studies in an area near the show floor, where attendees can learn about successful projects from the people who built them. And the show floor has an Innovation Alley, where attendees can see breakthrough technologies from emerging companies, and vote for the ones they like the best.”
Some people think of the term smart cities only being used for large global cities, but Heath explains that is simply not the case.
“Although we call it “smart cities” for simplicity, in reality the move to smart infrastructure is not restricted to large cities,” she said. “It is being driven equally by counties, townships, regional authorities and state. The audience primarily makes up U.S. government officials (from federal, state and local government) as well as the foremost thought leaders and smart city practitioners from around the world. We are seeing more and more international government affiliates attend as well as students interested in going into this field.” The Smart Cities Council also has regional offices located in Europe, India and Australia/New Zealand.
“Virtually every American city of any size has multiple “smart” projects underway, even if they don’t use that nickname,” Heath said. “This is the year that our bellwether cities are moving from pilots and experiments to wider deployments. And that cities are moving away from piecemeal, department by department projects towards cross-cutting efforts that share infrastructure and share costs.Internationally, cities such as Singapore and Dubai have climbed past Barcelona and Vienna to vie for the title of smartest city in the world. But virtually every region has major smart city initiatives underway. In the case of India and China, hundreds of pilots and projects are currently in development.”