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Building a Smart City Strategic Roadmap

In November 2016, Austin City Council passed a resolution calling for the development of a Smart City Strategic Roadmap with relevant City entities, community partners, and the technology community.

City Council asked that our strategic roadmap include the following:

  • A common, Austin-centered definition of Smart Cities
  • A statement of vision about Austin’s Smart Cities future
  • Challenges on which we should focus and prioritize
  • Potential opportunities to address those challenges
  • Key goals and outcomes operationally for the City and for residents’ equitable quality of life
  • An inventory of practices to consider
  • Core needs, gaps, and capabilities to deliver
  • Potential resources and means for partnering and financing initiatives
  • A prioritized list of projects to pursue.

Around the same time, the City of Austin developed its first strategic framework in more than a decade. This framework outlines the most pressing challenges facing Austin over the next five years, and we use these challenges to frame and prioritize smart city projects. The Austin City Council adopted Strategic Direction 2023 in March 2018.

Discovery phase

Journey to Smart City Foundation - 2016. Timeline of 2016 events related to Austin’s smart city roadmap. In 2016, the City coordinated and hosted workshops and events to promote opportunities for partnerships centered around Smart City initiatives. Key milestones included:
March 12: City of Austin named finalist in DOT Smart City Challenge
April: Austin joins the Open Government Partnership; City of Austin Convenes 200+ vendors/partners to collaborate on DOT grant application
June 23: City of Austin does not win DOT grant but reaffirms commitment to smart initiatives
August 5 and 26: CityUp: Civic Needs, Priorities and Opportunities Workshops 1 & 2
November: Council Resolution 20161103-051 calling for a Smart City Roadmap
October 10: CityUp: Collaboration & Project Development Workshop 1
December: Developed an inventory of known Open and Smart initiatives (~50)

Journey to Smart City Foundation - 2017. Timeline of 2017 events related to Austin’s smart city roadmap. In 2017, events continued and include the development of a Smart Cities Roadmap as part of Austin City Council Resolution. Key milestones included:
January 19: City becomes U.S Ignite Partner
January 24: CityUp: Collaboration & Project Development Workshop 2
March 30: CityUp: Civic Needs, Priorities, and Opportunities workshop 3
April 18: Smart Cities Council Readiness Workshop
April 11 and 25: CityUp Lunch & Learn Dept. Presentations
May 16: Scheduled staff presentation to Austin City Council
June 2-4: ATX Hack For Change & US Ignite Reverse Pitch
June/July: Open Government Partnership Self-Assessment
December: Open Government Partnership Report Due

Development of the Smart City Strategic Roadmap began in 2016 through a series of workshops to frame and understand local challenges in Austin, and desk research to understand trends and case studies in the broader industry.

We also hosted an online campaign to gather input into the roadmap. From this input we identified a number of key insights that continue to shape actions. Below are a few highlights from this input:

  1. Understanding existing needs and accessibility of solutions
  2. Transparency and responsiveness in the City’s entry point and decision making for projects
  3. Forming and managing public-private partnerships
  4. Supporting prototyping and experimenting
  5. Valuing data as an asset
  6. Investing in the right skillsets and diverse perspectives
  7. Considering how projects impact geographic, racial, socioeconomic, and other types of equity
  8. Improving the City’s procurement process

Based on this input, we drafted the first iteration of the Smart City Strategic Roadmap, which we made open for comments and edits.

Inventory of projects

As part of the Smart City Strategic Roadmap, we compiled an inventory of projects in 2017 that involve the use of technology to solve real problems for real people. We are using this information to identify and prioritize what resources and guidance the City should create or make available to help projects succeed.

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