Last week I attended the Knight Smart Cities Forum here in Philadelphia. I felt honored to have been invited to this cadre of thinkers, policy makers, innovators, and doers. Among the speakers was Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney who is the man. There was a high percentage of folks with municipal positions as “Chief Innovation Officers”. There were others who do smart city planning and strategy, like CityFi. And there were academic affiliates as well such as Eric Gordon from Emerson’s Engagement Lab, Paulette Brown-Hinds of UC Riverside and Voice Media Ventures, John Harlow from Arizona State, and Beth Coleman from the University of Waterloo. I was amazed to find myself among others; deputy mayors, Knight Foundation staff, and more. The forum was the brain-child of Lilian Coral, a fairly new addition to the Knight team. She sure brought a great group together.
The main area of discussion was not really about new technologies. It was more about how these technologies impact communities and how communities should be engaged in the process of planning for the smart city. I liked something someone said that his smart city strategy was the same as his city strategy, meaning that technology is the just another means of trying to build better cities for their citizens.