The pandemic silver liners for smart cities


Cities have had to get smarter faster than ever over the past 19 months as they grapple with the coronavirus crisis, racial calculus after the murder of George Floyd, extreme climate-related weather events and more. But these rapid operational changes can have long-term benefits, according to participants in the Smart Cities Connect conference and exhibit last week outside of Washington, DC Smart Cities Dive editors asked attendees for their thoughts on lessons or positives from the pandemic, as well as misconceptions about the concept of smart city that remain a concern.

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

What good, if any, has come out of this pandemic for smart cities?

“It showed us an extra dimension that we need to pay attention to in terms of community and public health. It’s such an important part of things. We didn’t really take that dimension very seriously. [outside of] the field of public health, but now it is in the foreground. ” Rajaram Bhagavathula, ssenior research associate at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

“The focus on constituencies. What is best for people? And that’s a really good change from “What’s best for my corporate ridings?” “Or” How to earn money? I think there is renewed interest in citizens, and how do we hear about them, and how do we protect them, how to provide them with the information they need to improve their lives? “- Robert C. Patterson Jr., Chief Strategist and Senior Enterprise Architect at Hewlett Packard Enterprise

“The ability to connect everyone while increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of services offered by municipalities. It has advanced connectivity, it has increased communication and collaboration between city stakeholders, your citizen and your municipality. ” Nicolette Reyhani, sales manager at Cocoflo New arrivals

“We was forced to move things online. … And now people are like, “Oh, it makes my life easier, it’s actually a lot more accessible, it gives me a lot of time in my day, I want to keep doing it that way. »… Thinking back now to the difficulty of getting dressed, standing in line, waiting in front of a bunch of people, filling the clipboard… [People] just want to do it online. … And I think now that so many people want it that way, cities have no choice but to provide it to them. ” Matt Leger, research manager at IDC Smart Cities & Communities

“Things get done a lot faster: implementing new technology and prioritizing budgets for a remote workforce. I hear from a lot of software companies that they realize people are working from home, so let’s give them what they need to do that. ” Bar Asherov, sales manager for North America at Zencity

“This created so much more emphasis on all these ideas that looked like science fiction to some audiences for so long. … I think everyone in these rooms at this conference is aware of what can be done through virtual connections and setting up networks that connect people. “- Chase berenson, senior consultant at E-Source

“Cities themselves are looking to work better on their public-private partnerships and understand that they need to help understand how businesses can work with them.” Amber Cobb, director of ppartnerships at Riot

“In the parking lot, because people weren’t coming [downtown] and pay for parking, [nor were cities] impose parking in the city center, they reassigned many of these spaces for parklets or eating al fresco, which is a really creative solution, and that’s a positive benefit that came out of it. “- Conor Kelly, Director of Enterprise Solutions at Passport Labs

“It has been proven that when we as a people decide to beat a common enemy, we can do it, and we can do it very quickly, and we can come together and make it all happen and go through hardships. dramatic changes very, very quickly. And I think with that realization, let’s go for the next big thing. ” – Paul Hoekstra, director of the mobility business unit at TNL United States

What’s the biggest misconception people have about smart cities?

“It’s not clearly defined.… It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and I think sometimes the misconception is how much the term is used and what it applies to exactly. ” – Conor Kelly (Passport labs)

“You could talk to someone who says:. systems in parks that understand how they are used. And really, it has to be global and outside of all these silos. “- Chase berenson (Electronic source)

“This it’s strictly the Internet of Things (IoT), meters, all that. I think that’s a catch-all term for virtualization, modernization. “- Jeff martin, CFO and co-founder of Cocoflo New arrivals

“This [cities] must always use the latest technology. I don’t think a smart city always has to be at the top of the game… I think a smart city is just a city that can really understand the priorities and say, “OK, let’s focus on that” and do it and do it quickly. “- Bar Asherov (Zenville)

“Clever cities are not a standard thing that you can just buy and implement. Smart cities must be a strategic mindset, a cultural implementation in all services, functions and infrastructure. Everything has to come together, and you have to find a starting point. And then, based on that starting point, you implement and build from there. ” Robert C. Patterson Jr. (Hewlett Packard Enterprise)

“[That] Big Brother is trying to implement technology to keep tabs on you. … In fact, it is quite the opposite, it is to use technology, to use the data collected during the deployment of this technology, to serve you better. It’s about trying to implement technology to make your visit to Town Hall much easier and seamless. “- Matt Leger (IDC Smart Cities & Communities)

“The biggest misconception is what to do with the data. … What do you do with this data when you have it, or what does a mayor do with it? Companies like mine, we try to help them understand how they can use them. [data] for situational awareness [or] help with the decision.” – Frank DeFina, Business Development Manager for Urban Environment, North America / UK, at Vaisala

“This the technology is mature and ready to be deployed. In fact, there is a lot of good potential there. What we want to see is how to deploy effectively [technology] so that people can improve their quality of life, increase the efficiency of transport? Our goal is to make sure we live up to our potential. “- Rajaram Bhagavathula (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute)

“I think the biggest misconception is [that] we are not there yet to deploy on a large scale. … For each intersection, how do you analyze it? How to model it? How do you test it? And how to deploy it? If we need to make 100 or 200, we do it like making cookies. We know exactly what to do. “- Paul Hoekstra (TNL United States)

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