How New York City plans to become a smart city leader

For the City of New York, a smart city is an equitable city guided by strategic frameworks for connectivity and connected devices, says CTO Miguel Gamino.

How New York City plans to become a smart city leader

This is the fourth interview in a series of videos with New York's CTO Miguel Gamino. The other videos may be found here:

New York City is a leader when it comes to smart city technology. TechRepublic met with New York's CTO Miguel Gamino to discuss the city's vision and how the city sees itself as a role model for the rest of urban America and the rest of the world in terms of being a smart city leader.

Gamino: I feel like I'm sharing one of my catch phrases. On the smart city's front I've said, also publicly, that while I applaud cities that are pursuing projects--that by itself doesn't make the city smart. It makes the city one that has a smart or connected project. That's a way of saying, "How do we even define the goal of being a smart city?" If you have a smart lighting system, does that, by itself, make you a smart city? I argue, no. I think that if we're really trying to be clear about what makes a city at large smarter or more responsive to the needs of its people or better at delivering service to its people, how do we define that?

I think the opportunity is to have these otherwise independent projects work together better because when you and I walk down the street, unknowingly, we engage with many different city agencies, right? You toss something in the trash can, that was an engagement with the Department of Sanitation. You cross the street, you just had an engagement with the Department of Transportation. You get the point. So, how do we take advantage of the smart technology to weave together a better user experience?

SEE: IT leader's guide to the rise of smart cities, volume 2 (Tech Pro Research)

When I thought about that, the way that I felt like we could really take advantage of our role in the government organization was to help facilitate that data exchange and inter-operation down the line between these smart-connected projects as they come to life. I think that has had New York become a leader in the smart city's conversation in many ways because we're being very specific about that goal. That we don't want to just implement a shiny object and then think that that was the mission accomplished.

We're thinking right now about how we can create a platform or partner with folks to create a platform that offers a truly open access environment to technologists and startups and existing companies who have smart cities projects to make this platform accessible to all of them. And in that platform create the opportunity to exchange data between them to potentially have inter-operation between them. So, what I mean is, can your payment at a parking meter tell the street light that you're there and accomplish some action? Can we have trash cans interact with other pieces of street furniture that is responsive to what is happening around it?

I know those are fairly conceptual, but the idea is, can we take our position and facilitate the interaction between the agencies who are focused on, as they should be, accomplishing their independent missions? Can we create some kind of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts equation by creating this ability to have the smart city's projects interact with one another? Some other cities are now doing some things similar and there's some conversation about a city operating system that is similar to what I'm thinking about.

I'm proud of the team because I think New York has instigated a conversation that has directed the smart city's projects at specifically how they impact people and improves people's experiences and interactions of services from the city instead of just focusing on how do we make an agency more efficient. We want to do those things, but we want to do those things because at the end of the day they serve people better or they serve people more efficiently, more cost effectively, and those sorts of things. All of that, to summarize, to say I think we've been successful in really shifting the focus to the person that we're trying to benefit.

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Image: iStock/TomasSereda