June 18, 2018

Building a “front door” for working with the technology community on smart city projects

Meeting date: June 18, 2018 Meeting time: 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM Location: Boards and Commissions Room, City Hall

Desired meeting outcomes

  • Insights to scope a City of Austin commitment to build a “front door” for the smart city community

  • Feedback on what makes for effective and worthwhile engagement with smart city community


I. Welcome and meeting overview

II. Key Issue: Building a “front door” for engaging the tech community


  • Rationale for having a “front door”

  • Opportunity for an open government commitment

Learning from current efforts to engage smart city community

  • ATD intake process

  • Mobility Innovation Challenge / Smart Cities Lab

  • US Ignite / Smart Gigabit Community

  • Civic needs and design sessions with external stakeholders

Discussion and facilitation: Building out the “front door”

  • What do we want to achieve through engagement with the tech sector?

  • How would engaging with the tech sector be valuable?

  • What services should we focus on building out first?

  • How might engagement with the tech sector improve public trust in our ability to make the most of smart opportunities?

III. Announcements and updates from Working Groups

IV. Closing

  1. In the next 60 days, where do you need help, or where can you offer help?

  2. Recap of action items and future agenda items

  3. Next meeting: TBD

Meeting notes

I. Welcome and meeting overview

  • Last meeting was April 4, 2018. Focused on collaborations with external partners. The discussion highlighted the need to define how we work with external partners and vendors on projects so that we address real needs impacting Austin.

  • This is related to previous discussion of having a “front door” for the smart city community to engage with the City.

  • This meeting will focus on what we want our “front door” to look like -- how we engage with external partners, define our needs internally, and work across departments.

II. Key Issue: Building a “front door” for engaging the tech community

Austin Transportation Department intake process

Presentation on ATD intake workflow****

  • ATD created a workflow to intake private sector vendors and non profits around technology proposals and pilots.

  • We are living in a fourth industrial revolution -- lots of technological advancement. How might we work with private sector to ensure we provide a platform for innovation with municipal purpose.

  • Working on standard contract language for zero-dollar pilots. Intake form makes clear that this is not a back-door for selling to the City.

  • Intersection with citywide technology intake process. ATD’s process is unique to ATD needs for zero-dollar pilots, given the volume of requests ATD receives.

  • Interest in a single “front door” for intaking pilot requests across departments. These requests all have to go through legal review.

Mobility Innovation Challenge / Smart Cities Lab

Mobility Innovation Challenge website for more information

  • Multi-city effort to identify and prioritize mobility challenges and signal scalable business opportunities across a network of cities.

  • Initiative is still in process -- reverse pitch competition expected in summer 2018.

US Ignite / Smart Gigabit Community

Smart Gigabit Community website for more information

  • Austin was selected as a Smart Gigabit Community -- aims to help cities develop high-bandwidth (gigabit) applications that can solve for community problems (ex: public safety, transportation, clean energy).

  • With an steering committee, selected two applications for funding and knowledge sharing. Selected applications: Kiwi Compute (teaches coding for middle schoolers) and Just in Time VR (virtual reality for training on medical ambulance bus).

  • Currently planning for year two in the program. Reverse pitch competition was time-intensive -- desire to plan for more impact in year two.

  • Opportunity to leverage the steering committee in year two.

Civic needs and design sessions with external stakeholders

  • Innovation Office and CTM have worked with technology community during the summer to convene around civic goals and potential new projects.

  • Challenge of when the City has an opportunity or challenge but not sure of the solution. Ex: blockchain for identity access/management.

  • The City’s options change with what role it is playing: buyer/owner vs. platform provider/regulator. When the City is a buyer/owner, it should think through its needs and promote competition; when the City is a regulator, it cannot discriminate among providers.

  • Technology/telecommunications companies have approached the City for partnerships/projects, while also having services that are regulated by the City.

Discussion and facilitation: Building out the “front door”

Facilitated activity: Attendees provided feedback on a set of potential services the City could provide as a “front door” for smart city and technology projects. Link to descriptions of the service offerings, feedback provided, and photo captures.

Discussion **summary:**

  • Top needs expressed:

    • Coordination and knowledge sharing among departments on technology efforts

    • Guidance on legal and policy issues with partnerships and contracts: law, procurement security, data management

    • Communicating challenges/needs with external stakeholders

  • Opportunity to align projects to strategic direction and set expectations with vendors that they must align to those priorities as well.

  • Desire for more clarity in how the intake of pilots connects with the citywide technology intake (for procurements) -- recognizing that the City’s technology decision-making process is aimed at operational needs, not necessarily community solutions.

  • Desire to use our “front door” to find other ways of addressing the needs that were not funded through the City budget.

III. Announcements and updates from Working Groups

  • Project planning workshop co-hosted by Innovation Office on June 19.

  • Bloomberg Cities American Cities Climate Challenge -- opportunity around reducing greenhouse gases. ATD is coordinating with other departments. Application is due July 18.

  • Smart Mobility seminar on June 20, focus on cybersecurity.

IV. Closing

Innovation Office will take information from this meeting and recommend how we might form a “front door.”


  1. Rey Arellano, Assistant City Manager (chair)

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

  3. Stephen Elkins, Chief Information Officer

  4. Kerry O'Connor, Chief Innovation Officer

  5. Brion Oaks, Chief Equity Officer

  6. Rondella Hawkins, Telecommunications and Regulatory Affairs Officer

  7. Karla Taylor, Transportation Department

  8. Ben Guhin, Communications and Technology Management

  9. Paul Cook, Communications and Technology Management

  10. Kirk Scanlon, Transportation Department

  11. Jill Goodman, Office of Performance Management

  12. Ted Lehr, Communications and Technology Management

  13. Josh Rudow, Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department

  14. Ginger Jacinic, Austin Energy/3-1-1

  15. Jannette Goodall, Office of the City Clerk

  16. Kevin Williams, Communications and Technology Management

  17. Elaine Nicholson, Law

  18. Jamila Siller, Office of Performance Management

  19. Kathryn Darnall, Office of the City Clerk

  20. John Speirs, Office of Telecommunications and Regulatory Affairs

  21. Sabine Romero, Innovation Office

  22. Daniel Honker, Innovation Office

  23. Marni Wilhite, Communications and Technology Management

  24. Happiness Kisoso, Communications and Technology Management

  25. Daniel Culotta, Innovation Office