Rather than focus on the disruptive and competitive nature of new technology, New York’s smart city czars are emphasizing collaboration with business and other smart cities.
City technology leaders spoke at a recent event hosted by Brooklyn’s Urban-X accelerator for connected city startups.
Representing the city were Chief Technology Officer Miguel Gamiño Jr and Chief Digital Officer Sree Sreenivasan.
They discussed how city governments are shedding their slow moving reputation when it comes to developing smart city initiatives.
Unlike the ultra-competitive private sector, Gamiño said New York City’s government has the latitude to perceive other smart cities as potential partners not as threats. And this collaborative approach has proven to have enhanced government innovation.
Sreenivasan picked up the thread by highlighting New York’s embrace of the open data movement, with the city releasing over 1,600 data sets to date. He said that this has enabled city governments to share best practices and even source code between them.
“The way we’re going to do this is to partner with great cities in the U.S. and overseas,” said Sreenivasan.
The pair also discussed the role that businesses play in developing smart cities, and how New York was actively working with industry to reduce layers of red tape.
Sreenivasan noted that entrepreneurs developing innovative new services or products often face difficulties associated with highly regulated industries.
For startups looking to loosen regulations related to smart city technology, he advised business leaders to help the discussion with the city by presenting a strong business model.
“Being a sustainable business is important in order to make it worthwhile for the city to change these regulations,” said Sreenivasan.
Not just disruption for disruption’s sake
The city representatives also emphasized the importance of not pursuing disruption for disruption’s sake. Rather, they advised connected city startups to focus on the end goal – making citizens’ lives better.
Gamiño said that this is where the city plays a pivotal bridge role, providing the crucial dialog between the next-level tech industry and NYC’s residents.
Ultimately, he says smart city projects need to contribute positively in areas like economic mobility and job opportunities, which are of key importance to residents.
“The question is always, ‘How does this move the needle on issues everybody, not just technical people, are interested in?’” said Gamiño.
New York City was previously awarded “Best Smart City 2016” at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona.