Using Smart Technologies to Drive Regional Transformation

Wed, May 27, 2020

Each presenter in BroadbandUSA’s May webinar would agree: the deployment of smart technology is transforming regional economies, creating resilient communities, and making government more efficient. The presenters stressed that successful smart communities ensure coordination between governments, create public-private partnerships, and foster community-level support. The webinar speakers discussed the importance of policy goal alignment and coordination to achieve smart region benchmarks.

Jean Rice, a Senior Broadband Program Specialist at NTIA, provided information on how smart regions help communities achieve their economic development, resiliency, and civic engagement goals. Rice shared information on the Global City Teams Challenge Smart Regions Collaborative, which highlights smart, regional approaches to solving critical issues that cross jurisdictional boundaries.

The Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR), a binational organization formed in 2013, convenes governmental leaders from the Great Lakes Region of the United States and Canada to promote economic growth, long-term competitiveness, and resiliency. Mark Fisher, President and CEO of CGLR, spoke about the first GCLR project in the Maumee River (OH) Watershed, where local governments joined together to spend over $1 billion in sewer overflow improvements and improve the region’s drinking water. CGLR works on smart, digital solutions by leveraging government, industry, and non-governmental organization (NGO) partnerships.

The Arizona Commerce Authority developed its smart state initiative to drive digital transformation across the state. Dominic Papa, Vice President for the Smart State Initiative at the Arizona Commerce Authority, explained that the state’s approach to their smart regions strategy begins with engaging local communities. Using a framework that is industry driven and state supported, Arizona has been working to leverage the strengths of its departments and agencies to commercialize and scale technological solutions around health, mobility, and education. For example, when the Phoenix region built its smart region strategy, it leveraged its proximity to Arizona State University, the local community college system, Maricopa County, and surrounding communities to create the Partnership for Economic Innovation.

The Digital City Testbed Center at Portland State University (PSU) coordinates a network of campuses across the Pacific Northwest where smart city technology is tested in a variety of settings before being deployed and scaled in communities. Jonathon Fink, Director of the Digital City Testbed at PSU, explained that the center’s strength in the smart region ecosystem comes from leveraging its university resources to test technologies for scalability and public acceptance before they are deployed. The center focuses on technological solutions that address issues facing communities in the “Cascadia” region of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. These issues include mobility, resiliency, and education.

Each presenter discussed the importance of collaboration among governments, private partners and NGOs in order to build, test, and deploy the best smart technology solutions available.

BroadbandUSA hostsmonthly webinarson a variety of broadband topics. BroadbandUSA has an archive of its webinars on ourwebsite. Follow us on Twitter @NTIAgov to receive updates on NTIA and BroadbandUSA’s work.