Leading Smart Cities Takes Purpose

David Alexander, Community Engagement Manager at Technology Partners

David Alexander, Community Engagement Manager
636.590.5992 | dalexander@technologypartners.net

Leading Smart Cities Takes Purpose

I had the privilege and opportunity to attend Construction Forum STL, and it really opened my eyes to how having the right mindset can affect the future of cities in the United States.

I’m David Alexander, the Community Engagement Manager at Technology Partners. I’d like to share some insights from the event as well as show you exactly how a leadership-oriented mentality can impact your city.

The Eye of the Storm

Last month, Sylvester Turner, Mayor of Houston, was honored as the City Leader of the Year by Smart Cities Dive. In 2017, Houston was faced with a tumultuous hurricane that dramatically affected the entire city. Yet, while the hurricane raged, Turner remained calm– determined to move the city -and it’s people- forward.

The conversation of smart cities starts with leadership like this. More specifically, leaders with an appetite to look beyond the status quo and complacency in order to become a catalyst for positive change. For Houston, moving a city forward meant investing $2.5 billion in new floodplain construction standards and flood warning systems such as cameras and sensors, as well as passing a $2.5 billion bond package to be used on flood-control measures.

Saint Louis also has something to add to the conversation.

Rick Noelle, CIO and technological pioneer for St. Louis County, recognized the need for easier, more effective communication with citizens. His passion to invest into his city led to the birth of Gateway 311, a citizen-facing app that would make it easier to share pothole locations, voter information, power outages, calendars, and essential, non-emergency information for responsive results.

“With rapid advancement in technology and our lagging adoption of 21st-century technology, we knew it was time for a big change. Gateway 311 is a leap forward in how the County can communicate with each individual we serve.”

-Rick Nolle, CIO Saint Louis County

We were honored at Technology Partners to be selected as partners for this project and now have the opportunity to take the technology to other cities across the U.S. I have incredible respect for Rick, he entered the space of service in the public sector after holding a variety of prominent corporate roles. I’ve seen him serve the city by speaking and helping out in the community through organizations like Breach and STEMstl.

So what are the traits that make a forward-thinking leader:


Strong focus on the next generation
Young people are the future and smart leaders know it. Amazon last year partnered with its first education institution, Saint Louis University (SLU), to place an Alexa in every dorm across the campus. David Hakanson, SLU’s Vice President, and CIO said, “Every minute we can save our students from having to search for the information they need online is another minute that they can spend focused on their education.”  Additionally, SLU is partnering with Washington University to launch a new space called the Collaboratory in 2019 as a “destination for industry to interact with our universities and vice versa,” said VP for research at SLU, Ken Olliff.

Collaboration is a must (not a maybe).
Leaders know how to work together to achieve goals. In the case of Mayor Turner, he saw private and public partnerships as a major key. According to the Houston Chronicle, Microsoft leaders pledged to, “help increase computer literacy among Houstonians and develop smart-city solutions here — the latest in a string of high-tech initiatives designed to boost the city’s appeal to technology startups and venture capitalists.”

Infrastructure is built for impact.
Nobody wants a hurricane, tornado, or riot in their city.
However, the reality of natural or social disasters requires infrastructure to prepare for the worst. A recent GovTech article said it best, “The beauty of leveraging 311 systems for crisis management/emergency response is that the infrastructure is already in place.”

Working Together

The truth is smart cities start with great leaders. Passion for the next generation is a natural byproduct for those with a vision that extends past today and realizes the necessity of planning for tomorrow’s workforce. Working together is paramount, and infrastructure is the only outlet for long term success.

Whether you are a city leader or the leader of an organization, becoming “smart” starts with the common sense of partnering and learning from “smart” teams. At Technology Partners we make it our mission to be on the cutting edge of technology in every solution we provide, including our all new Info311 platform. Reach out to me, dalexander@technologypartners.net and let’s talk about how Technology Partners can help you on your continuing quest to be a forward-thinking leader.

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