Sun, 15 May 2016
The way that cities evolve impacts our lives, personally and professionally. Jonathan Reichental works as the Chief Information Officer for the city of Palo Alto, reinventing sectors of the government that are struggling. Cities need a CIO because technology is the center of operations and almost all projects have a technical aspect. Not every city currently has a CIO but we are seeing the shift and demand to take IT to the center of delivering better services to citizens.
Jonathan's office is in the city hall of Palo Alto. They built a civic tech center that looks like a start up, offering on-site training and team building. His team consists of 32 full time staff, plus temporary staff related to different companies like contractors and employees from vendors. Relative to cities of its size, Palo Alto has a large IT group. The city delivers all of its own utilities which generates half of its revenue. The population of less than 100,000 people doubles during the day with workers and students commuting in. The area has a huge appetite for technology!
Jonathan is in a position to really observe and influence The City of the Future. So what does that look like? If the current trend continues, the vast major majority of the future will be in an urban setting instead of rural. Cities aren't currently ready for that. Our commutes are horrendous and we have crumbling infrastructures. The climate change and its effects need to be addressed. Our energy systems need to advance. Cities are typically inefficient and each part doesn't communicate. Many sectors of city government need new innovation and ideas. The Internet of Things will make the City of the Future possible... we can connect traffic signals to software for maximum efficiency and better traffic flow. We will be able to do the dreaded activities like renewing a driver's license and acquiring permits on a phone or computer, instead of spending the whole day at a government office. The parts of our daily lives that are still trapped in the past will catch up to the present. The software to facilitate The City of the Future exists, we just have to take a risk!