October 30, 2017

Discussion of smart city strategic roadmap and what role the Committee might play

Meeting date: October 30, 2017 Meeting time: 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Desired meeting outcomes

  • Feedback and insights on the smart city roadmap update

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


I. Welcome and meeting context (10 min)

II. Review items from July meeting (10 min)

III. Smart City Roadmap Discussion (50 min)

  • Council presentation scheduled for Nov 7

  • Intersections with technology decision making, budget process, strategic plan

  • Connections to 5G wireless research and investments

IV. Close loop on renaming the Board (10 min)

V. Discussion of action items and agenda topics for next meeting (10 min)

Stakeholder relationships and partnerships

  • Determining appropriate (legal, ethical, strategic) relationships

  • Exploring legal issues with data sharing and formal partnerships

  • Creating self-service resources for exploring/forming partnerships

  • Scoping kiosk project with Downtown Austin Alliance and other partners

Additional agenda topics and action items

Open items from previous meetings

  • Naming the board

  • Updates on projects discussed in July:

    • 5G PAWR Research Grant

    • US Ignite

    • Small Cell Wireless

    • Data Rodeo (Big Hub Data Spoke) grant

    • Small Cell Wireless

Meeting notes

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.)

II. Review items from July meeting

Update on US Ignite: Update on the two projects, Just In Time VR and Kiwi Compute, funded through the GigaTech program.

III. Smart City Roadmap Discussion

Kerry and Stephen discussed the draft update to City Council on Smart City Strategic Roadmap, scheduled for presentation to Council on November 7. Slides used in the meeting (this version was updated after the meeting -- see below): https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1xBBZI7DjneAvEG0QEEv7te6QI6H7NDaxdl1PmiT6bPk/edit?usp=sharing

New version of presentation, updated after meeting: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1cHXxrOU0Ey-xwJvG717_EJE-vTU0Pl3v2Ma54sfqWkc/edit?usp=sharing

Project highlights

  • With regard to the list of projects, still working on getting the right formula: range of projects for scale of diversity of projects. CM Kitchen advised to present projects in this flow: 1) what it is, 2) what problem it’s solving, 3) what it will do for us?

  • A roadmap for smart city is very different than a strategic plan; this will enable iteration and alignment for the organization.

Maturity model

  • For the Smart Cities Maturity Model, this takes 4 components and scales them up from beginner to advanced. The intent is to evolve capability over time to solve problems. Example: There are a lot of places working off paper currently but need automation and data to enable analytics and digital services.

  • Need to define our smart city capability around the problems we’re trying to solve, and also the opportunities we’re trying to create.

  • When building out digital services principles, look at user-centered design.

  • This (advisory) group can keep a watch on maturity model to make sure we are advancing and troubleshooting barriers.

  • The maturity model also takes into account the technology debt (a concept in software development meaning the extra work we accumulate when we improve systems). We need to build foundational systems (to become functional before we become smart). This will demonstrate slow and measured progress as we move through projects, and demonstrated policy and governance.

Prioritization approach

  • Interest in understanding how the prioritization formula will play out -- how to measure, who will conduct the analysis. At this point, the formula is conceptual -- this presentation is to determine if more effort should go into developing it further.

  • Tech & Telecom Commission could help test prioritization formula.

What’s planned

  • Need to complete strategic planning initiative to identify outcomes and strategies. We will align these projects to key strategies.

Hype cycle

  • The City’s position facing this hype cycle is normal. Government should be in research and development phase as these technologies are developed and avoid the “trough of disillusionment”. An example of those cities that adopted blue led lighting for smart lighting affected mental health. The consideration for the research and development cycle involves different decision-making (is this hype? Is this real? Do it quickly? Do it better? There is an acknowledgement there will be unintended consequences: goals are to minimize: reduce: mitigate, optimize.

  • The City sees examples of the hype cycle often: A department wants a hyped technology without understanding the problem they’re trying to solve, only to see the technology implemented with problems or over budget.

  • As big as urban infrastructure development in 50’s – it set the pattern for the next 50 years. This will get us away from the hype cycle, even while industry is asking for City join the hype and different consortiums. We need to flip the framing for smart cities: the tale of smart lighting for the Austin version of the story.

  • There was discussion on the trough of disillusionment: plateau of productivity: getting off of paper. We want to avoid the “crash”, which requires moving deliberately and researching needs before jumping on solutions.

  • Examples of following the hype cycle too closely: smart lighting, which one city had to uninstall because of unanticipated effects on mental health and sleep patterns.

  • ATD is undertaking dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) pilot on Riverside to learn and be ready for when standards and technologies become more mature.

  • Security office has been asked to review “pilot” technologies that are hosted on production network. These pose significant risk, as they are not in a testing/experimentation environment.

Grant feedback -- COA capabilities

  • The feedback from NSF 5G grant will enable good development and improvement for other competitive grant opportunities.

Relationships with stakeholders

  • External organizations and associations are looking for an entry point the City.

  • Some of these organizations want to sell to the City. This raises strategic questions regarding the hype cycle, and legal/ethical questions regard City membership in membership-based associations.

  • Exploring how we might finance and form partnerships for smart cities projects needs a dedicated team -- lots of legal, ethical, and strategic questions.

  • The group voiced desire to continue discussing the legal, ethical, and strategic questions regarding partnerships and membership in associations related to smart cities.

  • The City has many “currencies” to use with smart cities: contracts to deliver products and services, data, recognition. There was discussion of choices on monetizing data – should the city be monetizing data? Access to resources: staff, money and infrastructure. Considerations for equity, security: This is why we need this advisory group: for advice, decision-making, to unpack challenges.

IV. Close loop on renaming the Board

No objections to changing the name from Open Government Operating Board, to Open and Smart Advisory Committee (as supported by a staff advisory network).

V. Discussion of action items and agenda topics for next meeting

Suggested topics for future meetings:

  1. Stakeholder relationships and partnerships: Determining appropriate (legal, ethical, strategic) relationships, informed by understanding of current state and legal and ethical guardrails. Interest in inviting external interest groups to gain further understanding of their practices.

  2. Projects in the smart/open inventory: highlight partnering and financing opportunities

  3. Unsolicited proposals: Understanding process for considering proposals and navigating considerations related to law, finance, partnering, etc.

  4. Grant writing capabilities: strategic questions around pursuing grants for smart cities projects in tight fiscal environment; current and needed capabilities

  5. Update from Government That Works outcome team: exploring how the outcome connects with open/smart

  6. Open Government Partnership: update and next step for transparency, participation, innovation, and accountability commitments

  7. Security policy: addressing needs for technology security policy across departments

Action items:

  • Begin process to formally rename the committee and look into any other charter updates to make (staff team)

  • Research current state of relationship and engagement with external smart city interest groups: membership, activities, legal considerations, etc. (staff team, with support of advisory network)

  • Obtain briefing on administrative bulletin addressing data partnerships (staff team, with support of Law Dept)


  1. Rey Arellano, Assistant City Manager (chair)

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

  3. Stephen Elkins, Chief Information Officer

  4. Rondella Hawkins, Telecommunications and Regulatory Affairs Officer

  5. Kerry O'Connor, Chief Innovation Officer

  6. Kevin Williams, Chief Information Security Officer

  7. Ainee Athar, Innovation

  8. Paul Cook, CTM

  9. Jim Dale, ATD

  10. Ben Guhin, CTM

  11. Daniel Honker, Innovation

  12. Ted Lehr, CTM

  13. Elaine Nicholson, Law

  14. Charles Purma III, CTM

  15. John Speirs, TARA

  16. Chris Stewart, AWU

  17. Marni Wilhite, CTM