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Smart Cities Conference Opens With Calls for Collaborations

The Smart Cities Connect Conference and Expo in Washington, D.C., opened its in-person gathering today after a two-year hiatus that sent the regular meeting to a video-conferencing posture.

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Chelsea Collier, editor-at-large for Smart Cities Connect, opens the Smart Cities Connect Conference and Expo in the Washington, D.C., region Tuesday afternoon.
(Skip Descant/Government Technology)
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. — Calls for collaboration and partnership were repeated in the opening session of the Smart Cities Connect Conference and Expo, with the upshot being that these themes have never been more essential.

“‘So much has changed over these last two years’ might be the understatement of the world, right?” Chelsea Collier, editor-at-large for Smart Cities Connect, remarked to the ballroom of attendees at the Gaylord Convention Center as she opened the in-person gathering of city leaders, industry officials and others for the event. The annual conference had become a virtual gathering during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“But one thing has remained the same,” Collier continued, “and that is that Smart Cities Connect is the place where we all come together, across the different sectors, across the country, some from around the world, with our different perspectives and experiences, and we come here to learn how to be people again.”

Collier summarized the central goal of urban tech, which is to make cities better for everyone who interacts with them. She emphasized the importance of learning and restoring “smart city solutions to our cities’ biggest challenges.”

“The key word here is ‘together,’” said Collier. “If the past two years has taught us anything, it’s that no one can do this work alone — not government, not industry, but both in partnership, along with entrepreneurs and community builders, academics, creative thinkers and innovators.”

She added that it will take this sort of interdisciplinary vision to not only develop smart systems but also to deploy such resources effectively.

The Smart Cities Connect Conference and Expo will address a range of topics, from cybersecurity to data collecting to equity, over the next three days, with panel discussions headed by city, industry, academic and other leaders.
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.