Cities and industry leaders are redefining "smart" as they reckon with equity and inclusion issues. While blockchain, internet of things and automated technology are key pieces of the smart city puzzle, cities would be remiss to neglect justice as an equally critical component.
At the inaugural Smart City Expo in Atlanta, experts from startups, nonprofits, government departments, utility companies and more gathered to "redefine smart." Speakers like King Center CEO Bernice A. King and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell discussed how cities can build a more inclusive future for their residents through technology, data, policy and entrepreneurship.
We gathered insights from six experts about how their various industries can be more inclusive. Do you have an additional idea about how cities redefine smart? Drop us a line and let us know.
"We're trying to include the next generation whenever we can because we think that hands-on application and seeing things is really going to inspire people a lot more than telling them about it."
— Betsy Plattenburg, executive director of Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners, on the importance of bringing all generations and demographics of urban residents into the "smart city" conversation.
"Cities that work for people, where somebody can go and thrive and flourish, that is a smart city ... The inequity piece is one of the most important pieces. A smart city has the people of a city at its core. If you’re not servicing their immediate needs, then by definition you can’t achieve a smart city status."
— Michael Lake, CEO of Leading Cities, following the release of the organization's new smart city report card.
"Programming is very important because while the public school system is critical and it's the foundation, they can't do it independently. And they rely on programs like ours that are dedicated to providing educational equity and closing the opportunity gap for students who are underserved and under resourced."
— Brandon Fleming, founder of the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project, on how cities can promote equitable education opportunities for high school students.
"We have an obligation equal to the city to promote equity and inclusion throughout everything we do, including smart cities ... There's a big perception out there that electric vehicles are not affordable for low income communities so to help combat that perception we're working with Lyft to promote those electric vehicles in those low income communities."
— Christine Primmer, with Smart Cities Innovations at Georgia Power Company.
"Water is not a political issue, it's a human issue... humans should not be the sensors to detect problems."
— Doll Avant, CEO of Aquagenuity, on the value of putting low cost technology in the hands of people to help build awareness and monitor water quality in real-time.
"We have to build an environment where [foreign-born populations] know it's safe and that they're welcome and that they're encouraged to ask questions and seek out help and seek out information."
— Doug Hooker, executive director of the Atlanta Regional Commission, on building an equitable smart city for a vast array of populations.