WASHINGTON, D.C.–Becoming a smart city isn’t as simple as buying new technology off the shelf — one size doesn’t fit all, and there isn’t a template, according to speakers at this week’s Smart Cities Week DC conference.

Michael Mattmiller, director of government affairs at Microsoft; and Miguel Gamino, Jr., head of global cities at Mastercard, spoke with Bob Bennett, chief innovation officer of Kansas City, Missouri, about their experiences working in government on smart city initiatives during a panel session at Smart Cities Week DC. The two shared lessons learned and their observations on cities’ efforts to embrace technology to solve issues.

Mattmiller said that during his time working on smart city initiatives for the city of Seattle, privacy concerns from the advocacy community led to the city council shutting down a free public Wi-Fi system that had been operating — and forced city officials to figure out how to address them.

“It taught me very quickly that we weren’t going to be successful in thinking about innovative new strategies until we got the community support,” he said, adding that Seattle went on to create one of the nation’s first municipal privacy programs to govern how government could use data to operate more efficiently.

Gamino Jr., who has worked for multiple cities including El Paso, Texas; San Francisco, California; and the city of New York, said that his experiences have taught him that there isn’t a single template for how cities can achieve being “smart” — which, he added, is in the eye of the beholder.

“The priorities of each of the cities I worked for were different. The problems, often, interestingly enough, were the same, but the methods they wanted to go down, the appetite for certain risks or certain investments or certain outcomes, was different because of the community’s priority at large,” Gamino Jr. said.

View the panel excerpt below:


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