(Photo via twitter.com/JamesPottsJLL; illustration by Terry LaBan)
It benefits us all when local governments use new technologies to improve city services. We call that concept Smart Cities.
Smart Cities includes:
- Increased broadband access, machine learning, efficient transportation, sensors for parking meters
- The Internet of Things, aka any physical device that’s connected to the internet; think Alexa, or sensors monitoring the soil around a 100-year-old tree at Bartram’s Garden
- LinkPHL, a forthcoming network of kiosks for Center City and University City outfitted with free Wi-Fi and more digital perks
Psst, Intersection’s Link system is launching in Philly this year+ will include “free gigabit public Wi-Fi, phone calls, device charging, wayfinding, local content and information, and contextual advertising”: https://t.co/NHFzG4KjAe #Intro18 #SmartCities
— Generocity (@Generocity) May 3, 2018
Philadelphia’s implementation of Smart Cities initiatives will help people get around faster and help itself manage city assets, such as streets, more efficiently. But where do nonprofits fit?
For the second installment of Tech in the Commons, Generocity’s free tech bootcamp for nonprofit leaders, you can expect an in-depth look at the newest digital engagement strategies based on case studies from local pros who’ve implemented them successfully.
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We’re hosting the third session of the series, “Deploy Citizen-centric Smart Cities Solutions,” this Tuesday, May 15. Our stellar speakers:
- Ellen Hwang and Mark Wheeler, City of Philadelphia
- Dr. Ken Steif, Urban Spatial
(Full disclosure, ComcastNBCUniversal is a sponsor of Tech in the Commons, alongside the Knight Foundation.)
Wheeler is the interim chief information officer; Hwang was recognized on Generocity’s 2017 civic tech realLIST as being a leader in the city’s efforts to increase digital inclusion and civic engagement via technology. As the city’s assistant director of strategic initiatives, she’s in charge of SmartCityPHL, “a strategic initiative developing a comprehensive plan to guide investment and implementation of smart technology for government service innovation.”
The city is convening consultants, startups, corporate partners, universities and others to weigh in on that plan. And place-based nonprofits?
"Smart Cities is about understanding the various challenges in a community and identifying ways technology might support a better solution."
“So much of the work in [Smart Cities] is about understanding the various challenges in a community and identifying ways technology might support a better solution to addressing that challenge,” Hwang wrote in an email. “As the City of Philadelphia continues to build its roadmap, we would look forward to connecting with the nonprofit community to help us prioritize what types of solutions are most important to them and partner with us on projects to implement in their communities.”
Steif founded consult org Urban Spatial to help governments, businesses and nonprofits address their challenges “at the intersection of data science and public policy.”
At Tech in the Commons, he wrote in an email, he’ll “introduce a strategic framework describing how a data driven approach to decision-making can have a measurable impact [to] critical non-profit operations like advocacy, fund-raising and organizing.”
Specifically, attendees can expect an explainer on a foreclosure warning system project some of his University of Pennsylvania grad students recently built for community nonprofit Philadelphia Legal Assistance. The project used all open source code so other orgs can replicate it.
Rather than Smart Cities, “the real innovation we should care about is ‘civic technology,'” Steif wrote in an email. “Philadelphians should know that their City has been an international leader in the use of civic technology for decades and that when deployed in concert with policy makers, community members, domain experts, designers and other stakeholders, these innovations can lead to a City that is more productive and inclusive.”
Whatever the term, these initiatives have the capacity to impact Philadelphians’ everyday lives — and could help nonprofit pros do their jobs better. Want to learn more? See you in the commons.-30-
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