06.30.2017Policy

US Conference of Mayors fireside chat with Verizon and Sacramento

By: Melissa Glidden Tye
Verizon and Sacramento talk smart city partnership

The U.S. Conference of Mayors – a nonpartisan coalition of mayors of large and mid-size cities around the United States – held its 85th annual meeting this past weekend in Miami Beach. Among the speakers and panels featured at the conference, Verizon’s Vice President of Smart Communities and Venues, Lani Ingram, spoke at a fireside chat with Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg about the recently announced public private partnership between Verizon and Sacramento that will bring next-generation connectivity and smart city technology to residents of Sacramento.

Through this groundbreaking partnership, Verizon will invest more than $100 million in Sacramento, including high-tech information kiosks in areas with high levels of pedestrian traffic, traffic analytic technology that will improve safety in high-risk intersections, and free wi-fi in several city parks. As Mayor Steinberg noted, while Sacramento is “a proud capital city,” it also wants “to be so much more... The partnership will help make Sacramento a tech pioneer that all other cities could aspire to join.” 

This novel partnership came about when Verizon approached Sacramento and asked whether the city was willing to take a different approach to reach an agreement. While Sacramento typically issues an RFP for services and then simply picks a bidder, the city and Verizon agreed that moving away from that traditional process and taking a more holistic approach could create more long-term value for everyone. As a result, Sacramento and Verizon created a non-exclusive partnership that gives Sacramento a multimillion dollar investment in next generation technology in exchange for streamlining infrastructure approval processes, which will expedite the roll out of 5G wireless equipment and robust fiber networks.

“We’re both sitting on the same side of the table. On the other side, it’s the issues – digital divide, engaging youth, jobs.” 

Lani Ingram, Verizon Smart Communities and Venues

The deployment of this new infrastructure is what is going to power the smart city solutions that Verizon will provide to Sacramento under the deal, making it a true partnership. The ability to deploy its next generation network technology swiftly and cost-effectively enables Verizon to hold up its end of the bargain to deliver Sacramento the smart city technologies that will run over that new network. And streamlining the permitting processes to allow for the rapid build out of fiber and new wireless networks will benefit not just Verizon but all providers seeking to deploy advanced connectivity that will spur job growth, improve safety, and bring more residents online.

During the fireside chat, Ms. Ingram noted that Verizon has fundamentally changed the way it talks to cities. “We’re both sitting on the same side of the table. On the other side, it’s the issues – digital divide, engaging youth, jobs.” It’s not simply technology for technology’s sake – it’s about determining the needs of the cities, how the technology will be used, the culture of the city. First, ask those questions and find those answers. And then, determine how technology can make that happen, and how the underlying infrastructure can accomplish it.

Importantly, the opportunities that the partnership creates between Verizon and Sacramento aren’t limited to just Verizon. Mayor Steinberg noted that the partnership creates an open platform on which other companies can deploy smart city solutions. Likewise, Ms. Ingram encouraged any other cities that want to establish themselves as digital pioneers to reach out to Verizon.

At Verizon we’re focused on delivering the promise of the digital world. This weekend’s panel at the U.S. Conference of Mayors highlighted a new model of public private partnerships, one which we believe demonstrates that creative collaboration between the public and private sector accelerates innovation and makes the digital future a reality for communities across America. 

About the author(s): 

Melissa is Vice President, Public Policy at Verizon, with a focus on policies that will drive Smart Communities and IoT adoption. Connect with her on Twitter.