Who will keep your smart city humming? Skilled, talented people (and Cisco's on it)

Wed, 2016-01-27 06:00 -- Doug Peeples

Cities have enough problems to deal with. Urban populations are growing at accelerating rates and that growth is putting pressure on all manner of city services, whether it's traffic congestion management, public safety and crime, healthcare and other human services and finally -- limited budgets and scarce resources.

And while smart city transformations are a solution, IoT and new technological capabilities that are a major part of that solution present their own problem. As in where do you find the talented people who have the new skill set they'll need to make those technologies -- and cities -- function as envisioned?

The technology  talent gap (or talent shortage, if you prefer) cities face isn't isolated to the smart cities environment. Others that rely on technologies are feeling the pinch, too. As smart electric grids create a much more sophisticated and complex network for providing electricity, electric utilities and others in the energy industry (and other industries) are in the same boat.

Cisco's Internet of Things Talent Consortium
Fortunately, cities don’t have to go it alone. Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn is VP and general manager for services and chief knowledge officer for Council Lead Partner Cisco. She's also chairman and CEO of the Internet of Things Talent Consortium, a non-profit committed to ensuring a knowledgeable workforce capable of managing and maintaining IoT-related city operations. The collaborative effort also includes Council Lead Partner GE, MIT, Rockwell, the New York Academy of Sciences and Pearson.

The consortium's game plan
What Cisco and its consortium partners plan to do is inventory IoT's sticking points, determine the skills needed to deal with them and collaborate with colleges and universities to provide the needed training.

Beliveau-Dunn already has thoughts on the hot jobs and skills needed for the smart cities to come, including cloud architect, data scientist, robotics specialist, cyber security analyst, virtual reality designer, platform developer and many more.

Quoted in Tech Republic, she assessed the need for skilled people this way: "Every single sector has to get technology fluent and it has to get digital fluent … to drive long-term prosperity."

And if cities are to prosper, "We need new types of skills, new types of talent to make this happen. The agenda of cities is to attract the best companies  and the best talent. Innovation, the ability to drive new business, the ability to drive new ways to bridge public and private sectors … this is all part of the master plan for generating new smart cities."

But, she added, smart cities need the infrastructure that will allow them to do that -- and the people capable of accomplishing it.

"Without the right talent, without helping the talent transform to held do these things, we will never get there. It will take everyone to be a part of this to make it work."

Related articles…
How Jaipur got ahead in the race to create innovation zones
Why Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas are moving from "apps" to "frameworks"

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.