City Officials, Private Sector Commit To Becoming A More Equitable Smart City


NEW ORLEANS— On Tuesday, Digi.City founder, Chelsea Collier, and a panel of local policymakers, business and community leaders outlined their visions of advancing smart city technology and connected infrastructure development in order to make New Orleans a more equitable place for all residents.

City Council President Jason Williams kicked off the event by calling attention to the importance of smart cities in bridging the digital divide. “Smart City technology must be a part of our work to build equity for all residents of New Orleans. The City cannot misuse or fail to utilize innovative technology. It’s not just the wasted money and time, it is also the breach of public trust when we don’t invest in our people and opportunity. We have to be innovative. Smart City thinking and efficient technology can do anything from inform residents of a water main break to direct traffic after festivals to free up police officers from that task. Criminal justice reform and increased public safety requires better tracking of the right data, not just a murder rate. Using technology can be a huge part of addressing this challenge. If data drives our decision making we will get results.”

Throughout the conversation, Collier, who served as the event’s moderator, emphasized the enormous potential benefits of the coming wave of the Internet of Things and smart city technology with the right foundation. “The infrastructure behind smart city technology – connectivity and power – will provide the foundation upon which smart city technology rests on and from which all residents can benefit,” Collier said.

Kimberly W. LaGrue, the City of New Orleans’s Chief Information Officer, stated that there private-public partnerships will be integral to the transformation towards becoming a smart city, stating “We cannot do this alone, we don’t want to do this alone.” This sentiment was shared by the event’s private sector representatives, the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce’s President Ben Johnson and Propeller’s Daniel Applewhite who both emphasized the key nature of collaboration between the private and public sectors in New Orleans’s smart city future.

Tuesday afternoon’s event took place at Propeller, a nonprofit organization that helps entrepreneurs grow their nonprofits and small businesses to tackle social and environmental disparities in New Orleans.

Digi.Cityis a platform designed to discuss the policy behind deploying and supporting smart city technology. Digi.City focuses on the development of smart cities in both the United States and China, and this stems from research Collier conducted over the last year and a half as a 2016 Zhi-Xing China Eisenhower Fellow. The information Digi.City gathers centers on best practices and lessons learned across both countries to better streamline the domestic rollout of smart cities.

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