Charting a path to inclusive smart cities

By: Melissa Glidden Tye

Speaking with today’s female leaders about the technology and infrastructure that will power tomorrow’s cities.

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Smart Cities

The continual integration of digital technology into our communities is prompting leaders at all levels of government to place a premium on identifying and mobilizing technology that can make their constituents safer, use tax dollars more efficiently, and ensure that all residents reap the benefits of technology.

Around the United States, female leaders are increasingly at the forefront of this effort. To highlight that work, Verizon recently sponsored an event on smart cities with Bloomberg Government in Washington, D.C., exploring smart cities through the lenses of several female leaders from the public and private sectors. The discussion addressed challenges and opportunities to charting a path to inclusive smart cities, including the role of next-generation infrastructure and technology. It was a terrific discussion that tied together technology, inclusion and the power of women leaders to create smart cities. Read on for a few highlights from this informative event.

Transforming Communities with 5G

Congresswoman Doris Matsui kicked off the forum and emphasized how 5G, the next generation of wireless, will reshape communities. She gave an example of how autonomous vehicles can help increase accessibility to show how emerging technologies that depend on the unique capabilities of 5G – such as near instantaneous responsive times – will transform the way people interact with each other and their environments. She also spoke to the need to make sure the proper infrastructure is in place to support 5G and how Congress must act to help free up more spectrum, the invisible airwaves that carry wireless communications. Later on in the program, Gail Slater, from the White House’s National Economic Council, indicated that the Trump administration also sees spectrum as a key ingredient to the success of 5G. 

Verizon’s Kathy Grillo echoed the excitement about 5G, noting that Verizon will be the first carrier to deploy 5G this year. She also talked about how 5G, often referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, will transform healthcare and education.

Collaborating to Meet Community Needs

In order for communities to benefit from this transformative technology, it’s critical for the public and private sectors to collaborate. That point was made throughout the forum, including in comments from Gary (IN) Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and Goldman Sachs’ Margaret Anadu, who talked about the importance of working together to identify problems and create plans that bring solutions. 

Verizon’s Lani Ingram highlighted Verizon’s model for public-private partnership, which starts by identifying and understanding a community’s unique needs and then working backwards to determine the best technology and infrastructure solutions.

Ensuring Inclusive Smart Communities

Inclusivity was also a significant topic of discussion – not just in terms of access to broadband and next-generation technology, but also participation in the digital economy. Baltimore (MD) Mayor Catherine Pugh noted that there will be millions of new tech jobs in the coming years and that cities like hers – going back to the collaboration point – can work with the private sector to attract these jobs and give residents the skills they need to fill them.

Later into the forum, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene addressed the digital divide and said that it’s great that more younger people are now getting a digital education, but not all students are getting the same opportunities. As succinctly put by her colleague, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, “We need to build out a 21st century infrastructure that doesn’t leave anyone behind.”

Female Leaders are Driving Change

It’s abundantly clear that women are key drivers in building smart communities. Verizon appreciates the opportunity to convene and hear from so many powerful female leaders who are helping to develop the next stage of connected communities and looks forward to continuing our partnerships with them and leaders in communities throughout the United States.

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About the author:

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

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