San Jose Relying on Planning, Collaboration to be Smartest City

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The San Jose Smart City Vision is a plan that uses technology and data-driven decision-making to promote safety, sustainability, economic opportunity and quality of life for its constituents. The California city’s endgame is to become the most innovative city in America by 2020.

However, to get there, the city needs some internal planning — and a little help from its friends.

Last year, San Jose established a new Office of Civic Innovation to implement its vision to become as safe, inclusive, user-friendly and sustainable as possible, as well as to demonstrate the possibilities of technology and innovation.

The office will oversee a number of projects, programs and opportunities related to the city’s goal of making the city more efficient and effective, such as public safety, demonstration projects, data analytics, sustainability and public-private collaborations.

San Jose smart city projects are being narrowed down by focusing on three questions:

  1. Is the problem causing a lot of people pain and annoyance?
  2. Is it something that is core to what the city should do?
  3. Is the problem amenable to solution at scale with either technology or process improvement?

“If the answers are yes, yes, yes, then the problem is something we want to address in our innovation portfolio,” said Kip Harkness, deputy city manager for Civic Innovation. “One of the projects at the top of the list is hiring. If we’re going to be a smart city — actually, we like to think of it as a ‘learning city’ — that is going to be powered by the people who work for us.”

Earlier this year, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded the city of San Jose $200,000 in funding to explore how to develop and implement smart technology “in responsible and equitable ways.” The award was part of a $1.2 million commitment from the Knight Foundation to help San Jose and other cities, including Akron, Ohio; Boston; Detroit; Miami; and Philadelphia, explore IoT applications in their respective cities.

For San Jose, smart city funding will be used to support IoT strategic planning to make better IoT investments, IoT infrastructure financing, smart technology assets regulation and how to create private sector partnerships to benefit citizens.

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