Too frequently we catch ourselves jumping straight to the solution, direct to the final outcome without first understanding the question or problem that requires said solution. But how do we plan the steps that must be taken, acquire the appropriate tools, or understand the journey itself until we ask ourselves (and others) the right questions?


In light of this dialogue around asking the right questions, Anil Menon and Rick Huijbregts sparked a discussion of poignant topics focused on smart city innovation and digital transformation. Taking shape in a short coffee chat series at last month’s New Cities Summit, Anil and Rick touch on things such as creating cultures of innovation, underlying concerns with change and the need for a sense of urgency.

Coffee Chat:

At the core of the conversation and back to the concept of starting at the source question, problem, etc., some of the biggest hurdles we must overcome are reflections of symptoms of underlying problems common in our social, political, economic and environmental realms today. Begging the questions – are we doing the right thing and are we helping or creating a larger digital divide? Check out Anil and Rick as they analyze how technology may be the only way to help leapfrog some of these pressing challenges. Because we’re now facing the harsh reality that, unlike in the past and with the current rate of urbanization, we cannot take the next hundred years to solve for these issues.

At the astonishing pace of change that we’re experiencing in our industry today, we can’t wait for the perfect “it” thing of the moment. Something new will happen to upend that in the blink of an eye. As discussed more at length in this chat stream, we must build cultures of innovation that stimulate start-ups, entrepreneurs, leaders and communities to continuously and creatively foment change.

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But how do we build the skills and retain the talent we need to innovate technologically and change our cities’ social, economic and environmental outcomes? Rick gives some great insight into the ability – no matter if it’s in the emerging or developing world – to deliver on the promise that every city is trying to articulate.

With all that said, it’s time to create a sense of urgency, a call to action for all those city, business and constituent leaders to kick-start their processes of change. Innovation and digital transformation are not just for the western world or just for developing countries; the need to progress does not discriminate. So how do we get started? How do we ensure that we’re working toward outcomes that will benefit all, rather than just some of the fortunate few? As discussed in this coffee chat session, it’s time for cities to see the art of the possible.

Next Up in #TransformationThursday Series:

Stay tuned for next week’s post to discover more information about smart lighting and the environmental impact of transforming how cities manage energy usage. And be sure to check back each week as we discuss digital transformation in cities, detailing storylines and examples with various social, environmental and economic outcomes.

We’d also love for you to be a part of the conversation by using the hashtag #TransformationThursday and by following @CiscoGovt on Twitter.

And for more information and additional examples, visit our smart cities on Cisco.com.


Brenda Germundson

Global Public Sector Marketing Lead

Global Industries Marketing