Global City Teams Challenge Expo: Looking Beyond the 'Really Cool Stuff'

At the event, more than a dozen mayors from around the world converged to learn how IoT technology can make their cities truly smart.
By Marsha W. Johnston
Jun 03, 2015

Everything from communication drones to art museum applications were on display at Monday's Global City Teams Challenge Expo (GCTC), an initiative formed by a number of public-private sponsors in order to advance technology for smart-city applications. The event, held in Washington, D.C., drew visits from European royalty, White House cabinet members, 14 mayors from nine countries, and more than 1,600 other visitors.

In what organizers called the largest smart-city event to date, approximately 65 teams representing more than 50 municipal governments, and comprising more than 200 corporations and organizations, participated in exhibitions and presentations, many of which leverage IoT technologies. The event took place at the center court of Washington D.C.'s unique National Building Museum. The projects offered solutions in emergency response, education, energy and utilities, health, public safety, built environments, and transportation.

The King and Queen of The Netherlands join representatives from cities all over the world.
In opening remarks, Glenn Ricart, an Internet Hall of Famer and the founder of co-sponsor US Ignite, said that cities are the natural laboratories for smart technology applications, since they consume vast resources and contain the technical resources to effectively take action. The "exponential growth in sensors, Internet ubiquity, [the arrival of] gigabit fiber networks and wireless bandwidth," he added, have made cities great labs for smart-city applications.

Tom Kalil, the deputy director for technology and innovation for the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, reported that the White House is keen on smart cities because it sees the emergence of a civic technology movement. "A lot of technologists are interested in building a 21st-century government that is simple and effective," he stated, noting that June 6 is the National Day of Civic Hacking, the mission of which is "to improve our communities and the governments that serve them." Kalil added that the federal government is investing in making cyber-physical systems secure and reliable, improving the energy efficiency of wireless sensors and developing big data hubs, among many other projects.

Technology is not lacking, said SmartAmerica co-founder Sokwoo Rhee, the associate director of cyber-physical systems for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, though he told IOT Journal that last year's emphasis on "doing really cool stuff" is no longer sufficient. "This year, we are trying to see if [IoT technologies] can generate real value, so we made it a requirement to bring in the cities, because we want to hear from the user," he said. "In IoT, there are so many players, ideas and cool things, but at the end of the day, what counts are the benefits."

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