By Andrew Rodgers
Once again I came away from the annual Smart Cities Connect Conference and US Ignite Gigabit Applications Summit energized and optimistic about the future of cities. The discussions continued well beyond the technology of smart city applications and tackled the ethical applications of these technologies in the public realm. UTC was well-represented at the conference, and I was proud to see UTC scholars demonstrating their work and leading important conversations about social impact. I was struck by the level of maturity in the discussion of urban technologies, much of the content shifting from the “what” and “how” to the “who” and “why”.
The conference, held in Denver this year, brings together government, research and industry leadership to discuss a range of topics affecting the future of cities, such as resiliency, mobility and sustainability. Although the conference was originally anchored in technology development and deployment, this year, Dr. Chandra Ward, an urban sociologist with UTC, attended for the first time, joining with peers sharing a people-first perspective to the conference. “I met leaders from other cities who are as excited and committed as I am to engaging and including members of our collective communities around smart city education and implementation,” said Dr. Ward.
While the benefits of things like license plate scanners, camera based sensors or real-time traffic monitoring to city leaders and planners is clear, there remains a lot of work in order for us to understand fully the implications these technologies can have on various communities. The level of focus demonstrated by Dr. Ward and her peers on better understanding how these technologies impact ALL of our citizens was forefront in many conversations I had with our peer cities, leaving me very hopeful.