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We’re Trying to Become the Smartest City in America

Posted by William Rowe on Jan 3, 2018 12:00:00 PM

… says Patrick Sinnott, business development manager for the City of Las Vegas. I say: indubitably. Every mid-major city today has that vision, desire or initiative…But why? 

Because they must.

Today’s cities are facing rapid urbanization, economic constraints and environmental sustainability – all while being challenged by their legacy infrastructure, resources and lack of initiative. Business development managers like Sinnott are tasked with enhancing the quality of life for the people that define their metropolitan cities. These managers understand that improved infrastructure and its management is crucial to identifying and achieving social, environmental and economic success. 

What are the crucial factors that are key to this necessary progress?

Traditionally, cities will address four use cases (in no particular order): Safety, crowd, traffic and environment. After hundreds of hours of conversations with city officials (mayors, purchasing directors, IT directors, chief traffic engineers and chiefs of police), consultations and tons of research around are the primary goals for smart cities, I’ve found that the use cases haven’t really changed. Listed below are the things a city looking to become the smartest city in the world will need to address:

  • Safety and Security
  • Traffic Management
  • Smart Spaces
  • Pollution/Environment
  • Parking Optimization
  • Waste Management

What are the best practices? What are the entry points for this emerging market and technology?

  • Leverage Pre-Existing Relationships
    • Reinventing the wheel isn’t suggested, nor is it necessary to play in the IoT/smart city sandbox. Leveraging those preexisting customer relationships – whether it’s a mayor in a small city like Columbus, Miss. or the purchasing director of a mid-major city such as Tampa, Fla. – is the key to opening those doors to this new opportunity. You have the rapport, the past performance (hopefully) and the ability to have your call or email returned sooner than most – if not all – of your competitors.
  • Who Has the Power?
    • When working with cities where you don’t have a pre-existing relationship that could help you access the decision maker, understanding the leadership structure of the city in question is important. Using tools such as these will help you in your attempts to land the right connection: http://org/structures.html

The most common mistake made by vendors (resellers) is: Starting your process with elected officials – start with purchasing, have them send you to the correct department, as stepping on the toes of the purchasing department is probably not a good idea. “  stated Greg Spearman, Purchasing Director, City of Tampa

  • Serve, Don’t Sell
    • I had the privilege of attending a webinar last month focused on “Smart City Initiatives and How to Do Business With Cities.” There was a variety of speakers on the webinar including IT directors and purchasing directors.

One of the presenters, David Graham, Deputy COO, City of San Diego stated, “When attempting to do business with the city in your geography – do your research, know what said city’s priorities and goals are. Find out what their budget is. Look for the latest headlines for the city and provide the outcome-based value-added smart solutions. “  

Piggy-backing on this notion, I would like to suggest that you ask your team this question: What smart solution are we providing that a city needs and/or is aligned to what they are currently looking for?

Some of the most sweeping changes are coming in the public sector/SLED space. The efficient and connected nature of devices that are either being rolled out or are still in development has led to the advent of the “Smart City”: a place where utilities are delivered in the most efficient manner possible, and emergency responders arrive on scenes that have been secured by camera drones and sensors. The issue of safety and security is at an all-time high. In an active shooter scenario, smart buildings can help direct its occupants to safety with just a change in the color of lighting. We’re also seeing the adoption of autonomous cars, which reduce the rate at which car accidents happen.

Are you an IoT expert, or are you just beginning to develop your IoT practice? If you're just getting started, you're going to need experts in the field to guide you. Tech Data IoT Solutions is a vendor-agnostic team of expert consultants, architects and engineers, with specialists in every business vertical. We have a comprehensive network of partners—including vendors, system integrators, customers and service providers—readily available to provide the best-quality IoT solutions in the channel.

Ultimately, IoT has taken root and will transform how every city and municipality operates. Are you prepared?

To learn more about smart cities, contact the Tech Data IoT solutions team at iot@techdata.com, visit iot.techdata.com or view us on LinkedIn.

Tags: IoT, Internet of Things (IoT), Smart City