IoTC NOW – Smart Cities In the Era of COVID-19 Virtual Panel
Zoom Virtual Panel
Smart Cities in the Era of COVID-19 was held May 7, 2020 via Zoom and featured experts and executives who shared with participants their expertise in smart cities and the role that IoT will play in urban centers as we emerge from the pandemic. Hosted by IoTC Founder and CEO Greg Kahn, the panel was moderated by Axios Smart Cities Journalist Kim Hart. This virtual event included telecommunications, electronics and city leaders discussing how digital technologies can play a role in helping cities adapt and what preparations are being undertaken to ready cities to endure and gradually reopen.
SMART CITY PROJECTS
With smart city projects like Sidewalk Labs shutting down as a result of COVID-19, we will likely see challenges for cities nationwide and throughout the globe, with a potential $250 billion shortfall for local governments year over year. This economic turbulence speaks to the broader economic space that we’re in right now. Panelists ultimately think cities will continue to thrive, but expect more people to shift to the suburbs and make other choices.
Data and technology are top of mind for everyone. Data psychology is ever-present in our lives—how we work and how we go to school and how we connect with people. The question of how do we preserve individual privacy, freedom of expression and other important public values that we share, will become critical moving forward. Now is a great time for us as a society to wrap our arms around these questions and ask what trade-offs are appropriate and what communities feel is the appropriate balance.
NEW TOOLS MOVING FORWARD
As we consider going back to work, cities are looking at what will be required to make sure we’re keeping the spaces healthy and clean. Tracking and tracing solutions are being received with mixed opinions and concerns. It’s understandable. Information is constantly changing, or unreliable, and data privacy is a major issue. But COVID-19 didn’t come with a handbook—or GPS. We’re all in this together, searching for solutions that will keep us safe while protecting our privacy. Until we find a better way forward, it may be worth giving these apps a shot, at least for a while until the handbook is written.
Public health processes that used to take one to three years are now getting through in 90 days. We are seeing more public-private partnerships and collaboration—working smarter between departments. We are also seeing an uptick of cars on the road, which means that there are challenges for the micro mobility segment, and telework is expanding. Both will offer opportunities for deeper conversations in the public and the private sector. Healthcare will undoubtedly be the catalyst for deciding who serves on the front lines and which sectors are essential.