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#SubDCCP Explores How Communities Can Benefit from Adoption of Technology

Mar 16, 2017
Members Learn How Communities Across the Country are Using Technology to Improve Quality of Life and Safety for Residents

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, chaired by Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), today held a hearing to examine the ways that communities across the country are tapping into new technology and collaborating with private sector companies to deliver new initiatives that will improve safety, increase efficiency and create opportunity.     

The opportunities provided to citizens living within smart communities are endless. As Chairman Latta pointed out, “There are opportunities to improve education, traffic and health.  We can drastically increase mobility and access to jobs. From safety to sanitation to the environment, communities that wisely invest in technologies can make a real difference in American’s lives.”

Sharing the ways that Columbus, Ohio, is utilizing disruptive technologies to improve communication among local government agencies and boost the in-state transportation network, is Jennifer Gallagher, the Director of the Department of Public Service for the City of Columbus, Ohio. Columbus has several “smart projects” in the works, one of which is an event parking system that “will allow travelers to plan, reserve and book a parking space for large events.” She states this “parking system will be a partnership with our local tourism office to ensure critical transportation and parking information can be shared with our visitors and residents...” Other projects in the works will provide “transportation to employment centers, well-checks for mothers and their infants, and so much more.”

Full committee Chairman Walden expressed some of the challenges that local governments face when adopting and promoting new technologies. “These ideas may face difficulties with both funding and adoption. There are also important data sharing, cybersecurity, and privacy issues that need to be addressed when government entities are engaging with private companies to provide transportation, energy, or other community services.”

Chairman Walden’s home state, Oregon, is another area of our country helping to pave the way with regard to innovation and collaboration. Speaking about their unique public-private partnerships across sectors like transportation, and how adoption of new technology is increasing mobility and improving traffic safety for the public, was Kyle Chisek, the Director of Bureau Relations at the Office of Mayor Ted Wheeler. He stated, “These agreements with private companies give Portland access to cutting edge technologies needed for smart cities programs. As we have seen with Portland Streetcar and other public-private partnerships, when cities work in tandem with the private sector, it builds community trust and contributes to increased private development near public infrastructure.”

Outlining several reasons why research universities are key to the continuation of smart communities, is Dr. Jennifer Clark, Director of the Center for Urban Innovation at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “In the smart communities context, research universities are again serving an essential role in the research and development phase of smart communities innovation.” She continues, “Research universities are built to test new technologies, evaluate alternatives,  assess investments, evaluate economic impacts, measure distributional consequences, and certify  processes, materials, products, and standards… and [they] also have vested interest in the upgrading and maintenance of intelligent infrastructure in the cities and communities in which they are located.”

Another benefit of communities embracing new technology is the additional protection that it provides to consumers and added elements of customer service for residents. Expanding on this idea is Alexander Pazuchanics, Policy Advisor at Office of the Mayor in the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He stated, “A number of city departments are using custom, interactive maps to view and make decisions based on city data. These maps, cleverly named Burgh’s Eye View, allow our fire department to see up-to-date building code violations - to better understand a building before entering it. They allow our police department to monitor 311 requests for city service and see when residents request graffiti removal, note excessive noise, or submit a host of other requests connected to their quality of life.”

For more information on today’s hearing, including a background memo, witness testimony, and archived webcast, click HERE.