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Podcast: Building Smarter Cities

In this podcast, Light Reading's Alan Breznick interviews US Ignite's Mari Silbey. Silbey, a former Light Reading editor, talks about bringing local governments and tech companies together to share smart city plans, infrastructure needs and new applications.

Phil Harvey

March 22, 2019

2 Min Read
Podcast: Building Smarter Cities

When cities aim to get smarter, improving connectivity isn't necessarily the first thing on their list of priorities. Likewise, when carriers aim to make cities smarter, helping disadvantaged communities and making citizens more mobile is usually not on their front burner.

That's why it's always interesting to hear from groups like US Ignite. They're right in the middle of this stuff and they are actively working to help cities, carriers and private sector businesses find the resources from one another to get to a place where things like public connectivity, tech-connected transportation and easy-to-access government data are a reality.

The way many companies would like to solve city problems is to build a bit of middleware that talks to everything and siphons money off the top line. But, US Ignite's Mari Silbey told Alan Breznick, that's not going to work. "The city folks don't want to hear that. They don't want to buy your platform. They don't necessarily trust you. They're worried they're going to get locked in, even if you tell them that it's open," Silbey said.

Instead, tech companies need to build relationships with city decision makers and work within the "entrepreneurial ecosystems" that those cities are trusting to filter and vet ideas. "So if you can get in there and figure out how to solve problems, as always, that's where the money is," Silbey said.

Do you have a question or complaint that we should address on a future podcast? Leave it below on the message boards or send us an email.

The Light Reading podcast is available on Google Play, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and SoundCloud.

Related posts:

Phil Harvey, US Bureau Chief, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Phil Harvey

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Phil Harvey has been a Light Reading writer and editor for more than 18 years combined. He began his second tour as the site's chief editor in April 2020.

His interest in speed and scale means he often covers optical networking and the foundational technologies powering the modern Internet.

Harvey covered networking, Internet infrastructure and dot-com mania in the late 90s for Silicon Valley magazines like UPSIDE and Red Herring before joining Light Reading (for the first time) in late 2000.

After moving to the Republic of Texas, Harvey spent eight years as a contributing tech writer for D CEO magazine, producing columns about tech advances in everything from supercomputing to cellphone recycling.

Harvey is an avid photographer and camera collector – if you accept that compulsive shopping and "collecting" are the same.

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