Smart Cities Week Recap

Moiz Kapadia | September 18, 2015

Smart Cities Week 2015 Logo

I just returned from the Smart Cities Week conference in Washington, D.C. It was billed as an event to “showcase cutting-edge technologies, real-world solutions, and proven strategies government leaders need to build more livable, workable, sustainable cities.” Here are my takeaways from the conference:

Data from Smart Cities provides context for Smart Design. Big companies to start-ups are creating applications, based on real-time data or historical databases, for cities to monitor their operations. For example, IBM enables law enforcement to track and predict incidents, and startup Placemeter tracks the real-time movement of people, bicycles, and cars. These datasets provide rich context for designers to understand the users of their product, building, or park, and design a solution that meets their current and future needs.

Federal funding has arrived to Smart Cites. The White House announced $160M in federal research funding for Smart Cities initiatives and 25 technology collaborations. Commitments made by multiple agencies, including the Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, National Institute for Standards and Technology, Department of Commerce and others, aim to accelerate investment in infrastructure, fight crime, improve delivery of city services, and foster economic growth. One of the initiatives the White House is supporting is called Envision America, and Autodesk is excited to be one of the founding partners.

“Cities are where the future happens first,” says Secretary Julian Castro of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. “They’re the incubators for bold ideas, a kind of audition stage where those ideas are to be put to the test.” Secretary Castro noted that these developments can’t happen without community action and extolled the efforts of the citizens of Pittsburgh, PA, who are prioritizing green infrastructure to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff.

Partnerships will play a major role in Smart Cities development. Universities, cities, non-profits, entrepreneurs, and technology companies are harnessing data and working together to improve the lives of their citizens. One great example is the MetroLab Network that formed 20 city-university partnerships to improve infrastructure, city services, and other public sector priorities.

Cities are in need of financial support to deliver basic services to their citizens. From the Office of Innovation in Atlanta to City Council members in Akron, Ohio, city governments are looking for ways to attract investment for the infrastructure improvements they need. Without these improvements, jobs will not flow into their cities, and they will lose their workforce.

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