- The Greater Phoenix Smart Region Consortium, or "The Connective," recently launched to build what the group says will be the country's largest, most connected smart region.
- The Connective will include a number of university, public, private and community members to adopt technology solutions at scale and address regional issues surrounding mobility, equity and sustainability. The group aims to help area-cities learn from each other to accelerate the adoption of smart city technology, Brent Stockwell, assistant city manager of Scottsdale, AZ, told Smart Cities Dive.
- Founding members include Arizona State University; the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC); Maricopa Association of Governments; the Partnership for Economic Innovation and the Institute for Digital Progress.
The Connective's multi-organization strategy will help cities take on smart city technology in a "reverse-engineered" way, Chris Camacho, president and CEO of GPEC, told Smart Cities Dive.
Historically, many cities have adopted smart technology solutions due to a private company approaching them with a "shiny widget" that promises to solve a particular problem, he said. The Connective aims to flip that process on its head by asking residents to proactively voice their interests and needs, whether its parking, data privacy or better ways to digitally engage with local government.
The group will conduct audits to understand those needs and find multi-jurisdictional commonalities. Once patterns are pinpointed, the Connective will put out calls for innovation, allowing private sector companies to partner with the group and assess how needs can be met with technology.
"The Connective is to be driven by the priorities and needs of the cities, towns and the county — and not the research agenda of a university or the commercial interests of any one technology company," Diana M. Bowman, co-director for the Center for Smart Cities Regions at Arizona State University, told Smart Cities Dive via email. "That makes The Connective incredibly unique and also powerful."
The process will ultimately allow consortium leaders to weigh the different technology options and adopt a solution scale to drive down the cost for the product itself.
The Connective is an effort to incorporate data-driven, evidence-based decision making into local governance, Stockwell said. Sharing those processes across cities can also be beneficial particularly for smaller cities in the region that might have fewer resources, boosting equity and preventing the siloed adoption of technology.
Because the group is still in its infancy, logistical processes to streamline and adopt piloted solutions will be among the first issues addressed, according to Stockwell. The Connective will also need to determine how to write contracts that have the flexibility to be used in many different environments and communities, he said.
The budget for the group's first year should be roughly $1 million, Stephane Frijia, senior vice president of strategy at GPEC, told Smart Cities Dive. A large portion of the funds will be used to help with basic research needs. They will also invest in additional platforms to facilitate stakeholder communication and keep track of projects.
The group receives public funding that comes as membership fees from the cities. They are also working to secure additional capital from industry partners, according to Frijia.
So far, The Connective members haven't observed a regional group within the U.S. that's working at the same scale, CEO Chris Camacho said. But they did look to some international models and cities for inspiration, including Barcelona and the Smart Nation Strategy in Singapore.