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Intelligent Infrastructure is About Community Needs, if You're Smart

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Austin is playing host to an important and interesting discussion about the future of Smart Communities and on the first day of this Intelligent Infrastructure event had a morning full of panels and a few words from Philippe Cases, CEO, Topio Networks, and Chairman of the event, and from Austin Mayor Steve Adler. 

Cases talked briefly, but posed the key questions that will be addressed over the course of the two-day agenda. He asked the assembled attendees to begin thinking about why intelligent infrastructure development is critical to economic growth, and community improvement. He said that there is now an opportunity to reposition the government's relationship with big tech, while addressing the problems in the out of control data space. Most importantly, he outlined the state of the industry now, and invited the audience of delegates to spend the next two days deceiving what is best to begin doing. 

Following along the path Cases laid out, Adler spoke at length about how cities need to approach the process of installing and upgrading to Intelligent Infrastructure. The mayor used a contest from several years ago when Austin lost to another American city to be named the “smartest city” despite having deployed sophisticated technology in Austin, while the winning city had only entered with a train line -- a smart line to be sure, but nothing space age. Adler said that the other city won because Austin had started with the technology, instead of the community’s needs. Taking that lesson, he encouraged the room of about 150 people to begin thinking about Smart City and Intelligent Infrastructure projects by looking to the needs of the communities in which they’ll be installed.  

In an interesting Executive Panel about how companies and innovators can leverage integrated Intelligent Infrastructure to draw value through the economics of data, featuring Brent Skorup, Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center, George Mason University, and Randy Iwasaki, Transportation Leader, Amazon Web Services, they discussed the economic and social benefits that Intelligent Infrastructure will bring to communities, and also the risk that can be introduced. One of the most pressing issues they brought forward was the vast number of traffic deaths and injuries that happen on America’s roads, and while smarter roads might not solve this issue, it can start a path to a solution. They also debated about privacy and whether the problem of data management and security was an IT one or a PR one. Does data security really have a problem, or are people just scared it does? That was the question. 

There was a lot more to hear, of course, and you can keep watching this space for more highlights. 


Ken Briodagh is a storyteller, writer and editor with about two decades of experience under his belt. He is in love with technology and if he had his druthers would beta test everything from shoe phones to flying cars.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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