- Cities' chief technology officers (CTOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) can now get support from the Cities Today Institute (CTI), a global network designed to help city leaders implement smart city policies.
- Chaired by former Kansas City, MO CIO Bob Bennett, CTI will provide training and leadership forums, peer-to-peer mentoring, research and funding partnerships. It will host a series of forums in the coming months to address issues like engaging citizens, bridging digital divides and safeguarding privacy and digital rights.
- CTI launched after consultations with more than 170 cities worldwide and will have regional presidents for various parts of the world. More than 100 city executives are expected to participate in the inaugural conferences, which Bennett said in a statement are a "one-stop shop" for city officials.
Since leaving his government role earlier this year, Bennett has continued to work in the smart city space, not only through CTI but also through his new consulting group, B2 Civic Solutions. The group is also about bridging knowledge gaps and ensuring that citizen demands are at the center of collaborations.
With other smart city leaders like London Chief Digital Officer Theo Blackwell serving in major roles, CTI should offer a good opportunity for cities to learn from each other across international borders and pick up relevant best practices.
At the Dentons Smart Cities and Communities Summit in Washington, DC this summer, leaders from several global cities said smart initiatives need to ramp up and be given funding to succeed. CTI could help the acceleration of initiatives that may need an extra push.
CTI will take on some of the most taxing issues for city leaders. The digital divide and the need to provide equitable access to the internet still needs more work, although it appears there is a renewed determination among elected officials and staff to get it right.
And the need to improve citizen engagement touches all manner of policy areas, while the need for privacy and digital rights has taken on renewed importance with the growth of internet of things (IoT) devices. Sharing best practices in such a setting has the potential to be a very effective way for city leaders to learn from each other and make progress.