Olympics aside, count on Philadelphia in the “smartest city” bid

I have a lot of love for the City of Philadelphia, PA. I own a home here and I work for two great Internet of Things companies in this city. The city is literally the place where the framework for our modern day government was created by our forefathers. It is a city that is not only significant for its past, but also for the ability to have global impact in the future.

Our beautiful city sometimes gets a bad name in the national media and because of our sports fans. Our people are passionate and gritty, which is sometimes misunderstood. But make no mistake, after successfully hosting the Papal visit in 2015 and the Democratic National Convention last month, our city is eager and prepared for even more success.

See also: 5 key technologies of a smart city

As the world watched the Olympic coverage over the past two weeks, I can’t help but think about walking down to our famous Kelly Drive to watch Olympic rowing or cycling events. Most local Philadelphians know that a winning Olympic bid is coming, it is only a matter of time. What most locals may not see coming is that the city of Philadelphia sits in a prime location in the race to become one of the world’s first smart cities.

Defining the smart city

According to Wikipedia, a smart city is an “urban development vision to integrate multiple information and communication technology (ICT) and Internet of Things IoT solutions in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets – the city’s assets include, but are not limited to, local departments information systems, schools,libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, and other community services. The goal of building a smart city is to improve quality of life by using technology to improve the efficiency of services and meet residents’ needs.”

Our team at StratIS is working on building smart cities across the globe every single day, and we believe that the foundation of smart cities lies in the multifamily residential sector.

“It’s important to remember is that no single company or government entity will be able to create the first smart city,” CEO Felicite Moorman said. “It’s part of the beauty of smart cities. To truly become one of the first smart cities, you’ll need partnerships. Visionary corporations are partnering with innovators to develop a framework to deliver smart technologies to the masses. StratIS is that framework for MultiFamily, enabling smart access, energy, and Internet of Things devices -from unit throughout the building. For smart cities to work in Philadelphia, the City and corporations are beginning to partner to create impact that can be implemented globally.”

Why Philadelphia will become a smart city

The infrastructure is already here with gigantic corporations like Comcast, PECO, and Septa headquartered in the city. Locals will tell you that they are not perfect organizations, but they have the vision and economic means to leave lasting impact on the world. The city also seems to have a mayor in Jim Kenney who understands the importance of integrated technology. We have an amazing tech community that was once a well kept secret but now is drawing talent from around the world. Our team at StratIS has engineers who have worked at Google, Unisys, Boeing, and Cisco among other great companies.

Every year the community’s work is highlighted at Philly Tech Week, which is an outstanding event that we are proud is in our city. Technical.ly Philly, does an amazing job of covering the local scene and acts as a hub for connecting makers and more.

Philadelphia has one of the most outstanding and underrated tech scenes in the U.S. Gabrielle Trotter, embedded software engineer at BuLogics, is very active in the local tech scene and works closely on Embedded Philly.

“The goal of embedded philly is to create a community for embedded software and electronics enthusiasts to come together, collaborate, share ideas, and promote good design practices/open source resources,” Trotter said. “I and several others work together to organize the group and schedule events. In the past we have created lesson content and presented on different topics each month but now we are more focused on providing a forum for people to come together and discuss current projects, get ideas, and work together.”

For many in the city, Philadelphia offers a diverse group of like-minded people working on global problems that affect future generations.

“I think Philly’s tech scene is unique because it is so inclusive and open,” she said. “While we have a number of regulars to our embedded philly meetups, there are always newcomers coming from a range of backgrounds and experiences – we get everyone from experienced professionals to people with creative writing backgrounds who are interested in learning the basics such as how to solder.”

According to Trotter, TechGirlz is another group (non-profit) that organizes tech workshops for young girls (middle-school aged).

“The goal is to encourage girls at this age to be interested in technology so that they can go on to become the tech leaders of the future,” she said. “The workshops are both run by the group’s organizers, and run by a model called “techshopz in a box”, in which they have ready-to-go ‘boxed up’ workshops prepared that anyone can run with support from the organization. Its definitely a cause that hits home for me, as the technology I got involved in around middle school definitely helped put me where i am today. I got used to the idea that girls could work in technology before high school when I started caring more about social pressure & girls start being really horrible to each other.

At the end of the day, whether we get an Olympic bid or become the smartest global city is completely irrelevant. The work that the engineers of this city are quietly (and not so quietly doing) is grabbing global attention and leaving a lasting impact on the world.

The author is marketing director at energy efficiency firm StratIS.

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