Our team packed their bags and badges and traveled to Austin, TX to attend this year’s much-anticipated South by Southwest (SXSW) conference. It might seem incongruent for a Gov-tech company to attend one of the most innovative and forward-thinking conferences in the world, yet this stigma is the exact crux of our mission and why we exist. We believe innovation shouldn’t be siloed to only the commercial sector, but government agencies should have the same access and opportunity to leverage breakthrough technology which makes their cities smarter and safer. To our surprise, government technology was represented in record numbers at this year’s SXSW. It is great to see government included in such a forward-thinking event and even more exciting to see how government professionals are welcoming the chance to meet with and talk to the technology and culture visionaries that SXSW attracts. The government sessions were wide-ranging, talking about data privacy, cybersecurity, police, wearables, and healthcare. An overarching theme that came through all of them was how smart cities make citizens safer.
Smart cities are defined as a municipality that uses information and communication technologies to enhance the quality of life and the performance of urban spaces. Smart cities implement technology that is used by citizens as well as by city workers and contractors to gain insight into what needs attention to keep people safe and secure. But this definition has been circulating agency boardrooms and mission statements for decades. How many reading this blog post can point to a handful of truly impactful ways that our cities have become “smart”? The answer is likely few and far between. Our question is where is this innovation promised? As we saw at SXSW, we are living in the tipping point, of technology being adopted and interwoven within government practices and positively impacting everyday life. It was more apparent than ever that government agencies are ready and Government CIOs are becoming champions of technology and modernization – ready to be pioneers of smart cities in our day and age.
So what does a Smart City actually look like today? Smart city implementations include sensor controlled traffic signals, apps that allow citizens to report potholes, open access to data on crime and housing for a more informed citizenry, apps for public transport information and payment, crowdsourcing budget decisions, and more. We are proud to add data-driven inspections to that list with our platform that enables government agencies to leverage big-data, cloud technology, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence to make inspections smarter and keep communities safer.
Using technology to improve public safety is key to our mission “to create safer communities through smarter inspections, modernized tools and affordable advancements in technology.” We’ve seen how legacy technologies and processes led to public crises with Hurricane Katrina, the tornadoes in Oklahoma City, and the water-crisis in Flint Michigan to name a few. We were excited to see safety as a focus of so many of the smart city talks. Some sessions that spoke to improving safety while meeting the expectations of a tech-savvy citizenry included:
- How the mission of the Department of Transportation is shifting from simply providing safe travel for vehicles to improving quality of life for citizens. This includes using technology to keep people moving, no matter their transportation mode.
- Building cities to be age-forward to handle the trend that shows by 2030, there will be more people over the age of 60 than under the age of 10.
- Public safety agencies are not using the high tech tools portrayed in TV and movies like CSI, many are limping along with legacy systems while they work to implement cloud, AI, and more within their high-security environment.
- Learning from past disasters to build a flood warning system.
Our team left this year’s SXSW with a new-found vigor and call to action to continue to partner with government agencies, to empower them with best-in-class technology solutions that help governments do more with less and keep their communities safer. As we bring our platform to agencies, we’ve already seen huge strides in efficiency that not only benefit the public with safer public resources but also reduce the administrative burden on the companies that routinely comply with regulations. We’re more excited than ever to expand on our mission and help to create smarter inspections and safer communities.
Did you also attend SXSW and share our belief that the government is ready for a technological wave? Join in the conversation! We would love to hear your thoughts and understand the ways you think government can adopt technology, bigger and brighter than ever before. Give us a comment or a direct message to spark the conversation!