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October Friday Morning Breakfast

Posted By Heather Garbarino, Thursday, November 8, 2018

Smart cities, infrastructure, and development



‘Internet of Things’ key to planning future of urban development



As technology changes, so does the vernacular as we talk about the future of our cities.


Among the key phrase are smart cities, smart infrastructure, smart development, and the Internet of things (IoT).

“Good things are happening in our society economically. You are in a way the economic infrastructure of this community. Permitting. Growth plans. Our community is a major exporter. I’ve seen the angst: how do you finance the next generation of infrastructure. How do you build enough bandwidth? Part of the debate is technology.”


If you know anything about Arizona Congressman David Schweikert, you know he is tech savvy. That’s why he was the perfect moderator (his words above) for Valley Partnership’s October Friday Morning Breakfast topic, “Smart Cities, Smarter Infrastructure, and Smarter Development.


The October breakfast featured industry leaders who discussed the need for cities to invest in IoT-friendly infrastructure, the value of communities collecting and sharing data with residents to improve their quality of life, and how real estate development plays a role in it.


As urban development and infrastructure continue to evolve in the era of Uber, Waymo, and other IoT-friendly apps, forward-looking cities are emphasizing the need to integrate smart apps with roads and infrastructure as they build for the future. The future of smart urban development depends on tech leaders partnering with government leaders to build a smarter infrastructure for the next generation.


“When you’re talking IoT, you’re talking about connecting things to the Internet,” said Josh Kosar, Director of Technology Development at Sensagrate. “Traffic lights. Your home. You. Your phone. Essentially everything can be an IoT device. This will have an effect on smart cities. They are all little pieces of the puzzle. They will change lives. We will need economic growth to drive that technological change.”


When asked by Congressman Schweikert what technology the panelists see coming to Arizona, Brian Kearney, Senior Vice President, Catellus, didn’t hesitate to chime in. Catellus is developing the Novus Innovation Corridor at Arizona State University’s main campus in Tempe.

“This is a very interesting time to be building a community from scratch,” Kearney said. “It is so difficult to predict the future of technology and what its impact on our cities. Decisions made today will affect the communities of tomorrow. It will be all about connected systems. Connected automobiles.”


Kumar Balasubramanian, General Manager, IOT Solutions with Intel, said it will all come down to what makes our lives better. “What will help us? Tell us what it is. This is technology in its most practical form. We will be seeing a lot of that in the next two years.”


The panelists were in agreement that it will take buy in from all levels of government for smart cities to thrive. This also includes the non-profit sector and institutions of higher education.


“We’re partnering with the local municipalities,” said Bobby Gray, ASU’s Director of Digital Transformation. “ASU is smart. It makes no sense if Tempe has technology infrastructure and across the street (in Phoenix) there isn’t. That has to be practical standards we can take from one to the other. We must develop a long-term plan in which municipalities work outside their borders.”


Safety is one factor that can benefit from smart technology, the panel suggested.

“We are in the early days of smart cities,” Gray said. “There is no playbook. No percentages. We are really forging that data now. We have to be flexible and look forward.”


Kosar agreed.

“We need to push these ideas forward,” he said. “We need a quorum. There are things the city and state can do that will directly help with that. We need a place to get together and discuss that. It’s something that needs to be bigger – a meeting of the minds between cities and state.”

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