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The massive population shift towards urban areas has continued to evolve the challenges that community leaders and city planners need to address. With limited resources, obstacles that range from traffic congestion and pollution to infrastructure constraints and overcrowding are increasingly amplified – all of which requires a paradigm shift in how we approach and manage these types of situations. Driven by Cisco’s vision for the Internet of Everything (IoE), our Smart+Connected Communities program supports the integration of intelligent networking technologies to connect cities and help leaders address these challenges. However, we fully understand that this is not a one-shot solution. The transformation of cities not only requires relevant technologies and a change in the way we think, but also how we collaborate with city stakeholders and ecosystem partners.

To the last point, I am proud to formally announce our involvement as a lead partner in the Smart Cities Council. Joining a host of other organizations in areas including smart energy, water and transportation, this group will serve as a key platform for promoting urban renewal projects. City leaders around the globe will be able to tap into this network and leverage it as a resource in building out a comprehensive roadmap for city planning efforts. Participating organizations include Alstom, AT&T, Electricite de France, General Electric, IBM, Itron, Microsoft, National Grid, Qualcomm, and S&C Electric – all of whom make up the council’s steering committee as well.

Tactically, the council will work to address some of the barriers that cities face in the adoption of new technologies; this will be implemented through financial tools, policy frameworks, visibility campaigns, and advocacy. One of the first initiatives – to be launched at the 81st Annual Unites States Conference of Mayors in June 2013 – will be the development of the Readiness Guide. This tool will be the very first collaborative and comprehensive vision of a smart city. Through honing in on top-of-mind issues such as energy, transportation and public safety, the Readiness Guide will provide city leaders a conceptual technology roadmap to address growth strategies in an effective and systemic way. An Advisory Board made up of independent experts in research, academia and advocacy will also be involved to consult and advise on the guide.

We look forward to our involvement in the Smart Cities Council and will keep you all updated on progress. The efforts to be undertaken by this group of organizations is yet another step forward in delivering on a vision of smart and connected communities. Not only will it help promote access to key resources for city leaders, the group will be a think tank for new ideas and new approaches. As a member of this council, we will continue to leverage our experience and core expertise in helping foster what we see as a bright, new future. 

As city dwellers, we are living in exciting times. The potential for technology to transform the way we live, work and play continues to nudge towards realization. Connectedness will further shape how we interact with the world around us in the Internet of Everything. Each subsequent person, process, data or thing that comes online enables yet another set of amazing possibilities. As we connect the unconnected, we begin to uncover new and innovative solutions to address many of the pain points of urban life. Cisco’s recent efforts with Streetline to enable smart parking in the San Mateo/San Carlos was one highlight of what IOE can enable. The possibilities ahead of us are vast and with a strong ecosystem of partners, we begin to move that much faster in delivering on the vision.

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