Smart cities: what works/what doesn’t ?

Smart city innovators have grappled in recent years over privacy and surveillance with facial recognition, but some success stories are emerging.  Traffic management and public Wi-Fi offer bright spots.

In a wide-ranging discussion, two city officials and the global head of smart cities for Qualcomm offered their personal examples of what works and what doesn’t. Their views were part of the virtual IoT Technologies Summit sponsored by Fierce Electronics held March 15-16. 

Their entire discussion is presented in the video below. Here are some quick bites from Sanjeet Pandit, head of Qualcomm’s smart city practice; David Graham, chief innovation officer for Carlsbad, California, and Tony Batalla, chief technology officer for San Leandro, California.

Thumbs up:  Public Wi-Fi; intelligent traffic management; smart streetlights; smart connected spaces.

Batalla: “Public Wi-Fi is 1.0 smart city tech. It continues to show its efficacy and the pandemic only furthered tha. Public Wi-Fi as a tool is one way of addressing the really vexing issue of social divide.”

Pandit:  "What has really worked is smart connected spaces where you take a confined area and solve a problem such as connectivity for low-to-middle income…”

Thumbs down: Big data and integrating data; cities that try to make too many changes at once.

Graham: “There are a lot of challenges around integrating data. There have been good steps but it’s nowhere close to where we wish it to be. That’s a huge opportunity…There are too many legacy systems, too much is siloed and a lot of it doesn’t talk to each other.”

Batalla: “It’s not just presenting data and collecting it, that’s hard enough, but having staff able to use the data and analyze the data is a whole new skill set…Taking on data analytics and data scientists is a whole new skill and it will take some time for cities to build up that competency.”

Pandit: “Cities would like to do too many changes at the same time, and we shy away from that. Cities would like to overhaul their entire operations in terms of interdisciplinary interactions with the federal, the state… and that has not worked."

RELATED: What really works in IoT: smart transportation