SCP E90 Starting with Smart Foundations, with Adam Davis

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In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I spoke with Adam Davis, the Director of TPL Connect, and a consultant in the design and delivery of Wired and Wireless Networks in Smart Cities, Data Centres, IoT, Telecommunications and Enterprise sectors. Adam shares with us his background as a cabling technician and project manager, and how working with local councils in ICT design and strategy really sparked his interest in the Smart City space.

Adam tells us how he sees Australia currently embracing the Smart City or Smart Region concept, and some of the mistakes he’s seen Councils make when adopting new technology. We discuss the importance of having an overarching vision or roadmap when undertaking any kind of Smart City planning, and what some of the key components of such a framework are. He shares some of the projects he’s currently working on, primarily focusing on the foundation layer such as fibre infrastructure to support wireless and sensor networks, and the amount of that foundation layer technology that is needed before the 5G network can be usable.

Adam says that boring foundation layer of infrastructure is something that’s often overlooked in the Smart arena, and how it’s an emerging trend/problem we should all be talking about more. We also cover the need for interoperability of new tech so that legacy systems don’t hinder progress, why councils need multidisciplinary teams in order for integration to be successful, and finish our chat discussing the emerging trend of skillset gaps in both city and regional teams, such as lack of data analysts, integration and systems thinking. As always I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

 

What we cover in this episode:

  • Adam’s background as a Cabling Technician and Project Manager, and how he made the shift to start TPL Connect
  • How his work with Councils sparked his interest in the Smart Community space
  • What Smart means to Adam, and why invisibility is the mark of successful technology
  • The importance of overarching framework or vision for Smart City plans, and what some of the key components of that might be
  • The opportunities and challenges in Australia’s approach to Smart Regions
  • Foundation layer projects that Adam is working on, and why they’re so important
  • The hype around 5G and what the reality is actually like right now
  • The need for multidisciplinary teams in the regions to facilitate integration and break down silos
  • The emerging but overlooked trend of getting the foundation layer of infrastructure right
  • Legacy systems, new technology and interoperability
  • The emerging skillset gaps in Smart Region teams

Quotes:

”It’s different for every region but at the crux of it, [a Smart Community means] utilizing the data that you can garner from these technologies to make better and more informed decisions, which improves process, improves the lives of the constituents, [business] and the Council alike.”

“A lot of technologies have to be almost invisible…Has technology really succeeded when you don’t even know that you’re interacting with it?”

“What’s the overarching vision for the Smart City or Region? [Once Councils know that they can] work that into a set of defined principles that really reflect that vision…if the technology doesn’t really align to the principles, it won’t align to the vision, so it’s probably not worth implementing.”

“All those technologies have an effect in all streams of business—whether that be the water, the garbage, [the operational side]—the stakeholder management now is huge. And what they are actually deploying then needs to be handed off and be managed by what used to be the IT team. And, now, the IT team is getting more and more IOT Requirements lumped on them as these technologies are deployed. So, having that stakeholder management earlier on in the piece and working across on all streams of business, keeping everyone informed, and thinking about the operational side of the Smart Technology as well is [critical].”

“That’s when you see the successful regions, they’re actively working with local businesses and industry.”

“The boring foundation layer stuff is an overlooked area in the Smart City framework. The changing skillsets that are required within these teams—that’s a key considerable now. The hiring needs to be completely different [than before].”

“Actually looking at what the current requirements are, what the current environment looks like is probably a key thing that people aren’t talking about enough. People are too keen to just get there and be doing something, without having the proper planning.”

Connect:

Find the full show notes as: www.mysmart.community

Connect with Adam via LinkedIn or email adam.davis@tplconnect.com.au

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP E89 Smart Lessons from New York City, with Dr Amen Ra Mashariki

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In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I had a really interesting conversation with Dr Amen Ra Mashariki, the head of Urban Analytics at global GIS company, Esri (pronounced Ez-ree). Amen has a really interesting background, ranging from computer science and being a software engineer at Motorola, to bioinformatics and Cancer Research Analytics, to being a Political Appointee in the Obama Administration and then the Chief Analytics Officer at the Mayors Office in New York City. He shares with us the personal story that sparked his interest in this Smart Community space and the key lessons he’s learned about developing Smart Communities over his career. We talk about what Urban Analytics is and why it’s so valuable in developing Smart thinking, and how Amen works with cities and operational officials in the areas of data science, analytics and location intelligence. Amen tells us about his visit to Australia to meet with some of those operational officials, as well as an interesting case study where data and analytics are being used to prevent housing discrimination in NYC. We discuss why Integrating for the sake of integrating almost never works and what to do instead, and the emerging trends of sensors, drones and blockchain being used in cities by cities. We finish our chat talking about the growing international trend of Civic Tech Engagement and Amen tells us how he sees the role of a Smart Resident in a Smart Community. As always I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

What we cover in this episode:

  • Amen’s interesting and varied background and how a personal story sparked his interest in the Smart Community space
  • Key lessons Amen has learned about developing this Smart City or Smart Community
  • Urban Analytics: what it means and why is it so valuable in developing and fuelling this Smart thinking
  • What Amen does now and how he works with Cities
  • What the top priorities should be for governments to take on this way of thinking
  • Amen’s recent trip to Australia
  • A case study on using data to prevent housing discrimination
  • How Amen believes we can better integrate across disciplines, industries and government
  • the emerging trends of sensors, drones and blockchain being used in cities by cities
  • A case study of Civic Tech Engagement
  • The role of the Smart Citizen or Residents are in these Smart Communities

Quotes:

“A lot of us talk about planning for smart cities, but what I’ve learned is that Smart Cities are responsive cities. You can plan…but what you have to be prepared for are things that happen day to day, hour to hour, minute by minute in cities. Cities are such a tactical, fast-paced moving entity that any number of things can happen.”

“Every city has its own personality, its own level of complexity and its own complexion. What urban analytics says is, devoid of those differences, there are ways that you can think about being useful and being able to solve problems for a city, and these are the core ways that you use data and data science and location intelligence to solve those problems.”

“Smart City thinking is how do you think innovatively and thoughtfully around solving urban challenges? We have to now, we can’t rely on the same solutions that we’ve had, that we’ve relied on historically to provide a high quality of life for all of these people that are moving into these urban centres. So the opportunity here is that we have the space to think differently.”

“I mostly meet with officials who are in a space where they want to grow their ability to use data analytics to solve really complex problems in the city, and part of that growth is about how we think about data collaboration, sharing data and providing a platform and capability for data to be shared across the city. Because once you grow your data infrastructure, your ability to use analytics, data science and location intelligence grows exponentially.”

“Integrating for the sake of integrating, coming together for the sake of coming together almost never works. We’ve tried that tons of times. You have to have a shared challenge, a shared problem. So what’s the question you’re looking to solve?”

“Democracies provide pathways for citizens to engage with their government. Data, and particularly open data, makes those pathways far more salient and powerful.” That’s the role of government in terms of using open data as a mechanism for providing a tool for citizens to be more thoughtful, be Smarter, and be able to engage in a more impactful way.”

“This relationship between citizen and government is growing exponentially and data and analytics is the linchpin for that growth.”

Connect:

Connect with Amen on Twitter @amashariki and email amashariki@esri.com

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP E88 The future of public and private transit systems, with Matthew Booterbaugh

In this episode of the Smart Community podcast, I had a really great chat with Matthew Booterbaugh, the Vice President of Continuous Improvement at RATP Dev North America. We discuss Matthew’s background in IT, his interest in helping organisations build efficiencies in their processes, and how that has led him to the public transit industry. Matthew tells us what RATP Dev does, some of the projects he’s been working on in Europe and Asia, and what we can learn from those projects, including the electrification of bus fleets in France. We talk about why Smart Cities and in particular Smart Mobility is so important, as well as how Matthew sees the US embracing Smart Concepts. We cover the cost effectiveness of on-demand transit services compared with traditional services, and some ways to better integrate between the public and private sectors in the transit industry. Matthew also tells us about a project involving social media and news listening platforms being used to collect real-time customer service and operational data for transit companies, as well as what RATP Dev USA has planned for the future. We finish our chat discussing the emerging trend of consolidating trip planning and payment system applications between private and public transit options. As always, I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen Here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Matthew’s background in the IT space and how he’s moved into the public transit industry 
  • What RATP Dev does and what that means for listeners
  • What sparked his interest in the Smart City space and why it’s so important
  • What a Smart City is and how the US is embracing Smart concepts
  • How we can learn from projects Matthew is working on in Europe and Asia
  • Electrification of bus services and autonomous shuttle testing in Europe
  • The key emerging trend of on-demand, micro transit services, and their cost effectiveness compared to traditional services 
  • Social media and news listening platforms used for real-time data to get feedback and identify operational issues
  • RATP Dev’s technology and innovation platform, Orbyt
  • Some ways to better integrate between the public and private sectors in the transit industry
  • What RATP Dev USA has planned for the future 
  • The consolidation of trip planning and payment system applications between private and public transit options

Quotes:

“I’ve always been a person that’s been intrigued by industries that are in the midst of change and disruption. That’s when I really got hooked on the idea of being part of this transformation that’s beginning to take shape related to mobility in our cities.”

“Smart City for me is really about challenging the status quo in mobility options. Gone are the days where it makes sense to just simply run a 40 ft bus anywhere and everywhere in the city and also gone are the days where there are very distinct silos that exist between bus operations and taxi companies and private shuttle companies. It’s really becoming about the first and last mile, how all those modes of transportation both public and private can work together for the best rider experience. And to me, that is a big piece of smart cities and being part of that is exciting.”

“A Smart City is one that is really focused on doing things better each and every day in terms of developing a strong, continuous improvement culture for both residents as well as companies that reside within the city…And really taking a look at, not only what our needs are today, but projecting out what the needs are going to be of residents and companies well into the future.”

“The [Smart City] concept itself drives competition within cities to do things differently, to really challenge the status quo and if we’re not doing that in our cities, then I think we kind of become complacent in many ways. And we want to be a culture built on evolution, not complacency.”

“Around the entire world, one of the concepts that is really taking root is on-demand services…it’s really about the idea of delivering more transportation options to the widest geographical coverage area, at the most cost effective price, so, not just thinking about a fixed bus route but really thinking about also that first and last mile and deploying on demand services that are little bit more Uber-esque or Lift-like in order to help our customers meet that first and last mile demand.”

“The private sector typically makes faster decisions [and] many times are able to execute plans faster than the public sector, that gets slowed down around procurement processes, meeting to align larger number of stakeholder groups on changes that affect various people in the transit agency…We need to find ways to kind of break down some of the legacy public processes that are in place to be more relevant to our current day needs.”

Connect:

Connect with Matthew on LinkedIn and via email:

matthew.booterbaugh@ratpdev.com

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community 

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.