Design, Technology, and Innovation Projects

Moore’s Law [the observation and theory that computing power increases at an exponential pace]… is really about people’s belief system, it’s not a law of physics, it’s about human belief, and when people believe in something, they’ll put energy behind it to make it come to pass.Carver Mead in What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly

A Smart Foundation for Austin’s Smart City Strategic Roadmap includes being holistic and specific about those principles we value and prioritize, while establishing norms around the creative tensions and potential conflicts that may arise. This section intends to identify those core principles of consequence to smart cities, how the Austin community prioritizes those key principles, and how the community foresees ways in the near term, medium term, and long term to express these values in concrete actions.


A concept of consequence to smart cities.

Next steps for the roadmap would be to define and provide toolkits for the following principles:

  • Accessibility
  • Equity
  • Inclusion
  • Privacy
  • Security
  • Transparency
  • Resilience


How the community prioritizes key principles in terms of desirability, and worth.

Next steps for the roadmap include defining the specific areas of focus and how we might weigh tradeoffs when principles conflict.


How the community expresses its values. Every innovation begins as a deviation to a norm. Therefore norms around creative tension and conflict are critically important.

The norms will be best described by the activities that we should undertake in the near term, medium term, and longer term, such as defining our approach to opt in or opt out policies, or hiring a consultant or team to build out an accessibility toolkit.

Next steps involve carving out smart foundation projects for the upcoming fiscal year.

Discovery phase feedback that led to this section

During and after the April 18 Smart Cities Council Readiness Workshop, we asked for advice from participants through an insights campaign. We learned:

“Evaluating and prioritizing Smart City projects requires the City engage all residents to understand existing needs and accessibility of solutions.”

“Contributors offered varying definitions of “smart,” referencing the use of solutions and technology as well as the outcomes that could be advanced.”

“The City should consider how projects impact geographic, racial, socioeconomic, and other types of equity, including unintended negative consequences.”

“Contributors suggested that the City approach Smart Cities with a regional and geographically-distributed focus instead of concentrating solutions or ignoring interconnectedness of systems.”

“There is a need for a concerted effort on privacy and security that includes policies, processes, and staffing.”

“The City needs to effectively engage all residents to account for the value proposition of projects based on existing needs and accessibility of solutions.”

Challenge areas identified

  • How might we define “smart city” for Austin?
  • How might we include the public in the prioritization, development, and execution of smart city projects?
  • How might we evaluate how projects impact equity for the people of Austin, including geographic, racial, and socioeconomic equity?
  • How might we create ways to imagine and consider the unintended consequences of smart city projects?
  • How might we encourage projects to think about how projects impact other systems and areas?
  • How might we define what privacy and security mean for smart city projects?
  • How might we ensure that smart city projects adhere to our concepts of privacy and security?