In an interview for CXO Talk, Johnathan Reichental, chief information officer for the city of Palo Alto in the heart of Silicon Valley, talked about smart cities and data, government and open government and other topics related to innovation.
Reichental’s has had a career in the private sector for more than 20 years. He has been working in technology and innovation, but transitioning to the field of public services was truly a new challenge for him, a real adventure in shaping future cities and their governments. For Johnathan Reichental, the definition of “smart city” is related to the “digital city”, the bold vision of the tech city which started four years ago.
Digital cities, as the name suggests, are about using the internet to provide services, as well as taking a lot of paper-based services and putting them online, deploying lots of cell phone and smartphone capabilities and having a more open government. The concept of smart cities represents the next generation of these ideas.
Our cities are currently facing multiple challenges – from finding the best transportation options while mitigating the urban environmental impact, to finding a green energy solution or improving public health and safety. By bringing together the mass of cities’ problems with innovative technologies and available data, we can start building the city of the future.
For instance, most big cities have a problem with parking spaces. About 40% of people are looking for parking spaces at any given time in the downtown area of a city; this is a worldwide issue. With the help of today’s technology and data we can find ways for people to identify available parking spaces for their cars. Using data in this way helps citizens directly, but the same data can also be used in broader strategic planning. Real time data can contribute towards safer traffic, easy flowing traffic, and a smart traffic network.
These positive changes happening in Palo Alto should spread to other communities. In that sense, we must focus on public debates about policy and we should encourage the sharing of good practices.