SCWS Americas

Interview with Dr. Ted Lehr, IT Data Architect at the City of Austin

Dr. Ted Lehr, IT Data Architect at the City of Austin

In the run-up to SCWS Americas 2016, we caught up with Dr. Ted Lehr, IT Data Architect at the City of Austin to discuss his views on smart cities, urban connectivity and the opportunities for the monetization of connectivity. See Ted's responses below.

Ted presented at SCWS Americas on "Exploring the business models for IoT" and participated on the panel discussion on "Defining connectivity business cases".

How do you feel the needs and expectations around 'smart cities' has changed in the last 12-24 months?

For Cities, understanding who are the customers of a smart city is important. We need a better understanding of priorities and what success actually looks like. We also need to recognise that a smart city consumes, generates and uses lots of data, so how do we incorporate and leverage this?

Where do you think the greatest opportunities are in terms of urban connectivity?

I think it depends upon the cities and their politics. Cities with established, competitive and vital public transportation, for example, have different opportunities than ones where roads are the predominant and preferred mode of transportation. In Austin, sharing data and decision making among multiple transportation providers is where we see some big potential opportunities.

When thinking about the monetization of connectivity, what are the most important considerations for a city like Austin?

Current purchasing regulations have a huge impact on our business models. We also need to work with other similar cities and hear from them as to how they have overcome similar issues. It's important that we get the buy-in from the city agencies that will implement and manage a project so that people understand what we are trying to achieve and believe we can succeed. Understanding by city staff of what is being proposed and why it's legal, ethical and achievable is important before going to city executives or the council whose approval is often needed in order to get projects off the ground.

How would you outline the kind of business models you are exploring?

We are looking at pilot projects that are partially funded by vendors and/or private equity with the goal of demonstrating feasibility of both the business model and the value of project.

We are looking at simple monetization like leasing out infrastructure or sensors. We are looking at monetizing data that has had value added to it beyond what is generated by default by the city. We are also looking at cost savings models as the return to the investors. We are looking at local investors who might see monetization opportunities in, for example, public safety improvements that national/international investors might not see (for example, my property value increases if public safety increases).

What are you most looking forward to at SCWS Americas 2016?

I'm looking forward to presenting Austin's challenges and our approach. I hope that we might meet some potential vendors or partner cites who have some interesting solutions and will support our efforts.

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