A New Chapter is Opening for Smart Cities

By Bill Faulkner

Bill Faulkner is founder of Cardano Networks, a big data analytical software company focused on energy and related markets.

Over the course of Meeting of the Minds 2014 in Detroit, my fellow attendees and I heard from a number of subject matter experts in a variety of areas on the evolution of our urban centers. Although it’s difficult to succinctly summarize the learnings from the event, my main takeaways were three-fold:

  • There is a continued transition to increased local engagement in solving the challenges that face our cities. According to the leaders closest to these transitions, this is not expected to change;
  • As a result, there is also a continued transition to more robust public-private partnerships that are changing the paradigms on how we engage with our local governments and communities;
  • Technology advances are streamlining the fundamental changes listed above, enabling efficiencies and customization heretofore unavailable

These shifts are working and resulting in better government, better community engagement, and ultimately, a better experience for people living in cities. To me, this is especially impressive given the complexity of the issues and the disparity of interests (both real and perceived) of stakeholders. This move towards localization has been catalyzed by the financial challenges of the last few years and the forced shift away from federal and state programs that provided support because the funding just wasn’t there. What has filled the vacuum are wonderfully creative experiments that move away from “business as usual” and are driven by cooperation between local governments, NGOs, philanthropic organizations, the business community, and the community at large.

At Meeting of the Minds, we learned that there are several key elements to the evolution from cooperation in theory to successful collaboration in practice. These include:

  • The ubiquitous agreement that “business as usual” is not sustainable
  • The shift to the broader focus on the economic vitality of our communities
  • The increasing comfort with experimentation at the policy level to address issues
  • The ability to efficiently individualize interactions, and attain levels of insight previously not available

The last point, which is also an enabler of the first three elements, is focused on the increasing capability of technology which is enabling several shifts to take place:

  • More directed experimentation (with diminished consequences if unsuccessful), thereby increasing the appetite for innovation,
  • The ability to move towards reduced government, but lose none of the positive governance effects of government, and
  • Increasing the relationship between the private and public sector, on an individual basis as well as with organizations.

Some examples cited in the discussions at the event include:

  • increased autonomy for restaurant inspectors in New York to personalize the interaction with the local restauranteurs and community
  • broad based mapping of problematic real estate in Detroit to develop plans for improvement
  • kiosks set up in malls in various cities to enable rendering of services to citizens in a more efficient manner, and
  • comprehensive water management systems for floods and hurricanes (patterned after innovations in Europe).

There Is Now A Charted Course

What is so important about the successes and best practices documented at Meeting of the Minds is that the innovation case studies created by these forward-thinking efforts now enable other communities and leaders to have a blue print they can follow to adapt these public / private partnerships, innovative thinking, and integration of technology to:

  • Improve governance in a resource-constrained environment,
  • Tackle problems previously unsolved by traditional means, and
  • Integrate new technologies to lower costs and improve services (e.g., microgrid development)

This new way of doing things ultimately enables companies like Cardano Networks to deploy their capabilities to achieve the largest value addition to its customers. In regards to energy generation and consumption, it drives the integration of the energy value chain in conjunction with the IT value chain to create synergies to make new advances a reality (like, as stated before, the microgrid).

How It Relates to Companies like Cardano

This enablement is key for Cardano Networks, as it fulfills its mission to be the recognized leader of software and service solutions for integrated data and large-scale analytics, thereby enabling customized operational excellence and business value for our customers.

Cardano’s core value proposition is its complex, comprehensive, real-time analytical capabilities, enabling more robust, granular, faster, real-time integrated use of machine-generated data. Additionally, through CAN (Cardano Affiliate Network), Cardano integrates complementary skill sets from its partners to create a seamless solution so that the value proposition of customized and comprehensive use of large volumes of smart grid and related data generation can now be used to adapt current energy systems and implement new energy systems that are all more efficient, secure, safe, and clean.

Cardano’s capabilities lie in its ability to analyze the “Internet of Things” and apply them to energy and infrastructure and then integrate that analysis into the operations of defense systems, government operations, manufacturing, and other small-to-large scale operational platforms. Recent policy and partnership advances demonstrated at Meeting of the Minds shows that the time has come where these types of capabilities can truly be useful to our broader communities.

Meeting of the Minds demonstrated that with best practices spreading to other cities and regions and the continued advancement of technology, the future looks bright for us to improve the economic vitality, environmental impact, and overall quality of life of our communities. Cardano looks forward to being a part of the continued progress.

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Invest in Resilience Before Disaster Strikes

Investing in at-risk communities before disaster strikes is one of the most cost-effective ways to protect residents and property while increasing their ability to weather the severe storms ahead. At Enterprise Community Partners, our Resilient Communities Initiative works nationwide to strengthen communities and equip residents so they are better prepared for, and able to respond to extreme weather events and other emergencies. We provide technical assistance, grant funding, research and analysis, and build innovative tools to support this goal.

Meeting of the Minds is made possible by the generous support of these organizations.