July 27, 2017

Discussion of ongoing smart city projects and redesign of the committee

Meeting date: July 27, 2017 Meeting time: 9am-11am

Desired meeting outcomes

  • Understanding of challenges open government / smart cities projects need to overcome and concrete actions the board can take

  • Identification of challenges facing multiple departments and what roles the board might play in solving them

  • Shared understanding of the board’s role vis a vis projects and other governance entities

Open issues from previous meetings

  • Inventory: Findings from analysis of open/smart project inventory

  • Governance: How the OGOB and IT Steering Committee intersect

  • Reorganization: Formatting the OGOB into executive group / advisory group

  • Awareness: Communications on smart city roadmap and OGOB

  • Unsolicited proposals: Intake and evaluation


I. Welcome and meeting context (10 min)

II. Troubleshooting needs from open government / smart cities projects (50 min)

III. Board strategy and operations discussion (50 min)

  • Initiatives informing this board’s work

  • Strategic questions for discussion

    • Partners: How might this board relate to the IT Steering Committee?

    • Customer relationships: What role might this board play vis a vis projects and their sponsor departments (e.g., advisory, authority)?

    • Branding: How might we name this board and communicate its value?

IV. Discussion of action items and agenda topics for August meeting (10 min)

Meeting notes


Project descriptions for discussion

I. Welcome and meeting context

ACM Arellano opened the meeting by recapping the intended purpose of redesigning this group to become an advisory body for open government and smart cities projects. (More information on the intent for the group here.)

Kerry O’Connor provided an update from the Open Government Partnership workshop in Washington, DC, in July. Just as the Open Government Partnership provides a forum for “permanent dialogue” on governance for its members, this board can provide “permanent dialogue” for City projects.

II. Troubleshooting needs from open government / smart cities projects

See project descriptions for overview of each project.

5G PAWR Research Grant

  • Texas State, SMU, UT, and group of cities applying for grant to research 5G capabilities in Riverside corridor.

  • Need to ensure digital inclusion figures into the research and eventual deployment. Digital Inclusion Program is involved.

Data Rodeo (Big Hub Data Spoke) grant

  • Will approach Council for approval to receive the grant if awarded. Project needs to have management support when approaching Council.

  • Challenge is funding: Universities apply big administrative overhead to grant awards. Opportunity for the City to receive the grant at much lower overhead rate, meaning more funding available for work.

  • TxDOT, ATD data and county to share the repository. Opportunity to have funding for shared service.

Small Cell Wireless

  • TARA had been co-creating new approach to small cell with industry when new state law was passed impacting regulation. Compliance mode now.

  • New state law caps fees City can charge for small cell use of right of way (lower than current fees). Budget implications for the City.

  • Specific consequences for administrative rules, Austin Energy, Development Services.

  • City manager is aware of needs for more resources.

  • Interdepartmental staff team currently working on compliance and implementation; need to make sure AMANDA will support new process by September 1.

  • Broader view: State law enables telecom companies to move away from installing network nodes on more expensive private land, and toward cheaper public ROW. Anticipating a “land grab in Oklahoma” from telecom providers.

  • This board can help troubleshoot problems in small cell implementation, and larger strategic questions. Can stress priorities to IT Steering Committee for prioritization.

  • Suggested skillsets to help troubleshoot challenges: project manager, facilitator, technical writer.

US Ignite

  • 24 total project submissions.

  • Currently working with 10 finalists for Aug 31 “shark tank” event to award $38k seed fund prize for apps deployable by year end.

  • Awarded projects will need city resources. Ex: one project proposing virtual reality training for EMS personnel will have a time ask of EMS.

  • Vision: two years from now, tech industry approaches cities with new innovations rather than going to the state legislature to lobby for preemption of local rules.

III. Board strategy and operations discussion

Initiatives informing this board’s work

  • Staff discussed projects underway from CTM, Innovation and TARA that can report to this board and identify issues for board consideration.

  • One project underway is to put together a staff facilitation team to work with projects to understand their challenges, connect them with advisors and experts, and clear administrative hurdles. This team can help navigate tight grant timelines and tee up issues that the board needs to weigh in on.

  • Staff is also analyzing the inventory of open government / smart cities projects and will share insights with the group in August.

  • In developing the smart city strategic roadmap, staff have identified a 15-point checklist for standing up public-private partnerships created by the Law Department. Many projects could benefit from this; board members expressed interest in making it more available as a resource for departments. Also suggested is adding a a Law Department representative on the board.

Strategic questions for discussion

Partners: How might this board relate to the IT Steering Committee (ITSC)?

  • DDAC is exploring a single intake process for technology needs, given the multiple processes for approval and the fact that departments currently are “going rogue” to meet their needs. This board’s work could intersect with the ITSC here.

  • With a purview of open government and smart cities, this board should consider more than just technology projects. For example, community engagement projects are open government projects.

Customer relationships: What role might this board play vis a vis projects and their sponsor departments (e.g., advisory, authority)?

  • This board is an advisory body, not an approval body.

  • This board’s value proposition is based on two hypotheses: 1) projects that work with the board will have better outcomes and mitigate risk; 2) working across projects will enable the board to provide more shared services and self-service resources, solving problems across the enterprise.

  • Need to connect project objectives to Council outcomes.

Branding: How might we name this board and communicate its value?

The group suggested concepts that we should consider in naming/branding this group, all focused on the advisory nature of the board:

  • Advisory committee

  • Exploration group

  • Brokerage

  • Open and smart

  • Providing resources

  • Lane clearing

  • One place

  • Emerging or emergent

  • Open government

IV. Discussion of action items and agenda topics for August meeting

Action items

  • The board agreed to move forward with staff facilitation team that will intake and triage projects, conduct needs assessments, convene smaller groups of advisors, and tee up issues for the next executive board meeting. Staff will test this team approach in August-September.

  • Staff team will share an analysis of the open/smart project inventory, prior to next meeting, with insights about project maturity levels and lanes that need clearing.

  • Staff team will begin work with wireless small cell planning and smart mobility (Transportation Department) projects to understand their needs and connect them to resources.

  • Invite a Law Department representative to the next meeting.

CTM and Innovation are also developing a project tracking tool to enable city staff and the public to see the status of City projects and find more information.

Agenda topics for next meeting

  • Findings from the staff facilitation process that might inform how this board works

  • Updates on the projects discussed during this meeting


  1. Rey Arellano, Assistant City Manager (chair)

  2. Mark Washington, Assistant City Manager (co-chair)

  3. Greg Guernsey, Planning and Zoning Director

  4. Kerry O'Connor, Chief Innovation Officer

  5. Kim Olivares, Chief Performance Officer

  6. Kevin Williams, Chief Information Security Officer

  7. Paul Cook, CTM

  8. Jen Duthie, ATD

  9. Matt Esquibel, CTM

  10. Daniel Honker, Innovation

  11. Ted Lehr, CTM

  12. Paul Lewis, TARA

  13. Denise Lucas, CTM

  14. Charles Purma III, CTM

  15. Sabine Romero, Innovation

  16. John Speirs, TARA

  17. Chris Stewart, AWU

  18. Marni Wilhite, CTM