What cities need from federal and state government: Advice from Austin all-stars

Tue, 2016-07-05 08:26 -- SCC Partner

If there’s a common theme in the success of smart cities, it’s embodied in this word: connected. Connecting devices and people via a citywide communications network. Connecting city departments so they’re working toward a shared goal. And connecting with other cities and higher levels of government to share best practices and more efficiently allocate resources.

A recent panel discussion in Austin provided some great lessons on the latter — on ways governments can work better together. That’s why I asked Advisory Board member David Logsdon of CompTIA to share some of the insights from the discussion. For instance, many cities are hampered by workforces that aren’t high tech enough. The panel you’ll read about below offers some interesting suggestions that you may want to talk about with state and federal lawmakers. — Jesse Berst

By David Logsdon, CompTIA

The Smart Cities Innovation Summit, held in Austin, Texas last month, brought together over 1,500 global leaders from the smart cities community. Among the highlights of the Summit was a CompTIA-led panel “Smart Decisions, Smarter Cities: How Federal and State Policy Will Help Shape the Smart City.”

The all-star lineup included David Logsdon, Staff Lead, New and Emerging Technologies Committee, CompTIA (moderator); Kishor Bagul, CEO, Cloud and the Internet of Things (and former New York State Chief Technology Officer); Tim Herbert, Senior Vice President, Research & Market Intelligence, CompTIA; Steve Crout, Vice President, Government Affairs, Qualcomm; Larry Gonzales, State Representative, Texas House of Representatives for House District 52; and Sarah Holloway, Field Representative, Office of Congressman Michael T. McCaul (TX-10), Chairman, House Committee on Homeland Security.

The wide-ranging discussion touched upon topics including barriers to adoption of IoT-enabled smart cities applications; how federal and state governments can enable growth and development of smart cities; how to address cyber infrastructure; and ensuring that cities have an adequately trained and certified workforce.

Representative Gonzalez spoke of a bill that he is working to pass in the Texas legislature that would require students to declare a major in middle school. This approach would allow the students, once they reach high school, to do tech-related apprenticeships.

Steve Crout (Smart City Council Policy Chair) explained how Qualcomm, with CompTIA’s assistance, is looking to the federal government for solutions. Crout and CompTIA are currently working on a smart cities bill that will establish centralized smart city standards and give guidance to state and localities. Furthermore, the bill would create a series of economic development grants to help promote the development of smart city infrastructure, technologies, and services.

Sarah Holloway spoke of the critical importance of securing smart city networks and infrastructure. “The adoption of smart technologies within the urban environment will only occur if the citizen end users feel that they are secure,” stated Holloway.

Tim Herbert spoke to recent IoT research conducted by CompTIA: “IoT continues to gain traction as a top of mind issue as organizations of all types seek to improve systems, functions, or experiences through smart technologies and data.”

While data from CompTIA research confirms high levels of interest and optimism, mass adoption will inevitably take longer than some would like. When asked about concerns and barriers to adoption, organizations are most likely to cite cost (both upfront and ongoing operational costs), lack of skilled workforce with IoT expertise, new security risks, and complexity and interoperability challenges,” stated Herbert.

Panel moderator Logsdon focused on four key areas that cities need to pay attention to:

Technology. What are the cities current capabilities and where are the gaps?

Acquisition/Procurement. Do the cities/states have the right procurement vehicles in place to quickly onboard technologies and services (especially from small- to medium-sized businesses)?

Workforce. In order to bring the current and future urban workforce up to speed, we need to create a series of city-tailored smart training and certification programs.

Policy. How can states and the federal government work together on issues instead of in a siloed fashion?

David Logsdon is the senior director of public advocacy for CompTIA. In this role, he runs the association's New and Emerging Technologies Committee (focused on the policy surrounding social, mobile, big data/data analytics, cloud, the Internet of Things and smart cities). He was also the staff lead for CompTIA's federally focused technology convergence commission, which examined the impact on the public sector when social, mobile, analytics and cloud converge. Follow him on Twitter @DJLSmartData.