Tyler Suiters  0:11 

Hey everybody, with the Consumer Technology Association on Tyler Suiters, we are the owners and producers of CES, the most influential tech event on the planet. And we are here today to get you CES ready. The big show is January 8-11, 2019, in Las Vegas, as always. And today, we are talking about smart cities. 

You may not have seen one or maybe even recognize some of the technologies if you saw them, but this is critical to the way we've live in the future. We talk a lot and have so much about 5G connectivity and AI woven into the show floor and our exhibits and all of the programming at CES. Those are platform technologies, right? Delivering remarkable innovations and smart cities is one of the place that those platform technologies that 5G, the AI will be deployed and make a critical difference.

So here's a stat for you more than 50% of the world's population lives in cities right now, it's understandable. Well, by 2015, roughly 30 years from now 67% of us will be living in cities and that demand some changes about the way we use energy, about the way we go about our mobility needs and how we address public safety.

So today, a pair of interviews first of all, Intel, a globally known brand. This is a company that is binding data from the IoT to transform business success and some really cool insights coming up from Intel, I promise. And then on a bit of a smaller scale, a more niche scale, the Smart Cities Council deals with livability, workability, and sustainability, three key elements and three benefits for all of us once we more deeply adapt to smart cities, and see them deployed more broadly across the country and across the world as well.

All of that is coming up on this edition of CES Tech Talk.

Sameer Sharma is the general manager for IoT solutions at Intel and he's joining us now from the West Coast. Sameer, it is great to have you with us. Thank you.

Sameer Sharma  2:25 

Thank you very happy to be here.

Tyler Suiters  2:26 

So it's easy to give your title General Manager IoT solutions. Probably a bit more nuanced explanation is required for exactly what that represents, and what your role is there at Intel.

Sameer Sharma  2:39 

Absolutely happy to talk about that. So my role is global, as a general manager, I manage a team that works with cities across the globe, to figure out how do we provide the best of Intel technologies to ultimately make the city smarter, which essentially means improving the quality of life for people in those cities. And there are really two parts to this role. One is focusing on new use cases and exciting new end to end solutions, but also pulling together the best of technologies from other groups such as the 5G group at Intel, leveraging our investments in artificial intelligence, looking at the work they're doing and autonomous driving, and ultimately stitching it together into one cohesive narrative. So that Intel and its partners can bring forward the best set of solutions for cities to get smarter.

Tyler Suiters  3:34 

Alright, Sameer. So I am going to ask you for two definitions. I know you're well qualified for this pop quiz. It's not hard. But the first is what is your definition of IoT, I think you can have subtle differences for various sectors within the technology industry.

Sameer Sharma  3:50 

Great question. And IoT basically stands for Internet of Things. Think of this simply as all the different kind of sensors that can go either into devices like your phone, but also devices like electric meters, or cameras for safety, or your cars, or machines and sensors in an industrial setup, or in a retail store? How do all these sensors and the corresponding data come together to give you unique insights into what's going on, and how to make it efficient, better over time, that's Internet of Things. So it's about the end to end solution all the way from sensors, to the network infrastructure that's scaring the bits and bytes back to the cloud, where a lot of the analytics is happening.

Tyler Suiters  4:37 

OK, so part two of the quiz is, what's your definition of smart city? Why we're here? Because based on your first definition, it almost seems like a perfect case study or use case for IoT.

Sameer Sharma  4:51 

It is absolutely and the smart city definition is a bit more complex because it goes way beyond technology. So the way I like to think about as if a city is utilizing the right combination of policy decisions and technology implementations to improve the quality of life for its people, I would call it a smart city. So the criteria is not technology. The criteria is everything that being that is being done, is it leading to an improvement in how people are living? Are they happy? Or are they more stress-free as a result of the technology implementation? 

Now, as it turns out, technology is a very valuable tool to accelerate that process to make it faster to make it more efficient. In fact, we wanted to make this connection between the technology piece and the sort of the emotional connection that an average citizen would feel when they feel that they are living in a smart city. So we instituted a study that basically came back with the data that if a smart city is implemented in the correct manner, an average citizen can save about 125 hours every year. And that's through savings that come from better mobility.

So less traffic congestion, easier access to parking, but it also comes through many other areas like better, more efficient access to health care, or better productivity. And we all can feel it in our lives, the level of stress that's created because of the lack of time. So that was another way of looking at the same concept of smart city and converting that into something that's a bit more tangible, a bit more understandable for the average citizen.

Tyler Suiters  6:36 

So Sameer, I'm sure everyone's going to groan when I say smart cities are a journey, not a destination. Right. It's a it's a hackneyed.

Sameer Sharma  6:43 

That is correct.

Tyler Suiters  6:43 

But there's an application there, right, because smart cities are already underway. We have cities that are becoming smarter right there examples that are already underway, even though we're not at a destination yet.

Sameer Sharma  6:58 

You are absolutely right, let me just paint a global picture of what's going on with urbanization before I get into specific examples. So globally, as a society, we are adding about 3 million people every week to urban areas. And I think about urbanization in Asia, Europe, U.S. and other parts of the world combined. That's comparable to the population of Chicago. So essentially, as a global society, we are creating 50 plus Chicagos every year. And because it's been happening for a while, sometimes we tend to become numb to it. But the reality is, we feel it in our everyday lives.

I talked about issues like traffic congestion, parking, lack of access to clean air, WSU estimates that more than 80% of the people globally don't have access to clean air. So step by step, this overburdening of the urban infrastructure is showing up in an impact to our quality of life. The good news is, there are cities across the world who have decided to take on a leadership role and said, We are going to get this under control by again, going back to what I said earlier, using the right policy initiatives, but also adopting the right technologies. And the top three areas where I see studies, investing is around safety, whether it's the real safety or the perception of safety, those are both important for the citizens.

Mobility get me from point A to point B in the most efficient, least stressful way, least cost way possible. And sustainability, whether it's things like access to clean air and water or better quality waste management. these use cases are coming up in virtually every part of the world. Some great examples of cities that I think have taken a very data centric, comprehensive approach to these problems, that would be Singapore. They're doing a fantastic job having a data strategy and thinking about how to utilize that data to benefit the citizens. In the US, you have seen cities like San Diego and Portland and Atlanta instrument, things like multi sensor platforms are bubbles, streetlight poles, but essentially create a citywide smart city platform. And use those cameras to enable multiple use cases, not just safety, but also things like traffic congestion detection, pedestrian detection, for safety in the intersections, and ultimately, even more importantly, making all this data available through public API's to developers, the analogy I give us we are, if you compare this to the smartphone, revolution, revolution, we are the early stage of the revolution.

And once you can create a citywide smart city platform with data APIs, you can unleash an unimaginable amount of creativity of the developer ecosystems, the entrepreneurs to imagine and implement the next generation of use cases that today you and I can't even imagine.

Tyler Suiters  9:49 

Well, let's go a little deeper on that similar what can cities do to implement this technology? What can cities do to become smart?

Sameer Sharma  9:59 

That's a great question. And it's a complex answer, right? So what I start by telling, when a couple of cities about this, I tell I tell them, Look, you have to start by thinking big, build out a vision of where you want to take the city. But you got to start small, because your decision making is complex. There are many stakeholders, including very importantly, the citizens who have to be part of the process, we have to feel like they're part of the process. But then once you've decided what to do, move fast on that particular project or program. And then I trade this with feedback from all the stakeholders so that this becomes better over time. The number one thing that I tell them to do from a technology perspective is to make sure that you are implementing solutions that are based on open, interoperable standards.

There was a study last year that basically pointed out that because some of the cities may choose to implement non interoperational or closed systems, eventually, it'll lead to a wastage of about 340 $1 billion of taxpayer money globally. The bad news is, it's a very large number. The good news is by making this simple decision to use open interoperable standards, this wastage is entirely preventable.

So the other aspect of this technology implementation is to have a data centric mindset. And by that what I mean, as the city should be clear about their top pain points, and what kind of data to the need to get unique insights, so that they can take the right actions to address those pain points. So if you are implementing, for example, a camera for public safety, and one of your top pain points is traffic congestion. Think about why that camera should not be used or other it should be used for traffic analysis, and use that information to ensure better traffic flow.

Extending this example, it should also be used to detect availability of parking, because we know especially in the downtown areas, a lot of the traffic is essentially created because people are driving around time trying to find a parking spot. And if you can help them find parking quickly, you can improve the traffic flow, you can reduce the amount of air pollution that comes from many cars on the road. So you have the second and third order synergistic effect in a system of systems as you implement these technologies. Yeah, so that's very important.

Tyler Suiters  12:25 

Yeah. So that's a real example. In today's world premiere of smart cities effecting change something we can all really get our get our heads around. Let's look a bit into the future. CES 2019, coming up in Las Vegas, our second year with a specific focus on smart cities. What does Intel have plans, because I know you're talking about what's in use in cities now, but also what still become on smart cities.

Sameer Sharma  12:53 

I am very excited about CES and also equally excited about the fact that your team has decided to focus on smart cities, because cities and the technology and the implementation and the benefits, it touches all of us, you and I, we are all citizens in our cities. And so I think I'm very excited about the fact that all the significant technologies that Intel is making tremendous investments in our partners are helping bring those technologies to the market, like artificial intelligence, for analyzing this massive amount of data that will come from cities, technologies like 5G, because 5G ultimately will be the connectivity, almost a connective tissue of a smart city, linking all these things, and devices and cloud together. It has also technologies like autonomous driving, as you know, we have a big investment in mobile AI, which is now an Intel company, right.

And as one of the leading-edge provider of autonomous cars, car systems, we have all these technologies available for you. So please come to the end booth, you can see these technologies and action, you can talk to the experts who have the right background. But also we're going to bring in our partners, we're going to bring in our customers together and things like panel discussions and interactive engagements. So you can hear from them as well, where they see the whole ecosystem going with is wonderful technologies.

Tyler Suiters  14:22 

Sameer, final question for you. All right, you referenced the potential savings for, for consumers of 125 hours a year with smart city implementation. Going back in the napkin here, that's about 10 and a half hours a month, two to three hours a week. What would you do with an extra two or three hours a week?

Sameer Sharma  14:43 

Great question. So I'm fortunate enough to have a job that is also my personal passion. We the work we do in smart cities is not just about technology or the economic opportunity. I think it's also the societal benefits that brings to the table. So I think between spending some time thinking about the next generation of wonderful applications and spending more time with my kids. I think I'll use up that time pretty quickly.

Tyler Suiters  15:07 

Yeah, that that is a perfectly positioned smart city expert answer. I love it. Sameer Sharma is general manager for IoT solutions at Intel, Sameer. fascinating discussion today. Thanks so much for your time. And we'll see you soon at CES.

Sameer Sharma  15:23 

Thank you appreciate the opportunity. I look forward to CES next year.

Tyler Suiters  15:30 

With us now, one of our rare in studio guests such an honor to have Jason Nelson with us. He is the executive director for partner engagement with the Smart Cities Council. Jason, thanks for being here.

Jason Nelson  15:41 

Happy to be here.

Tyler Suiters  15:43 

Let's dive right into this. What does smart cities mean to you? Because you come from a unique perspective on this.

Jason Nelson  15:49 

Yeah, smart cities is about leveraging technology to help solve real problems within communities. And we use the term cities broadly, its cities, counties, states, multiple municipalities, wherever there are large groups of people, that's what we're looking at and calling a city.

Tyler Suiters  16:08 

Obviously large difference among the three that you just mentioned, right, let's just take a city and the municipality, I'd assume the denser the population, the denser the concentration of infrastructure, the easier to implement smart cities.

Jason Nelson  16:21 

You know, you'd be surprised, I think that we're seeing real leadership right now within some of the small to mid-sized communities. You know, a lot of the big urban areas got out in front. But it's really been over the last year or two that we've seen some of those smaller communities really make a real push into smart city technology and leveraging it in unique and different ways that are that are really germane to their needs. And so we're able to see those trends and we're encouraged by them.

I mean, I think that they have less constituents necessarily to deal with, you know, the real core challenge with any smart city implementation is just bringing on all of those constituencies together from the various city departments, the public works, public safety, mayor's office, and so forth, along with the local utility, citizens groups, business groups, bringing them all together, to start working on ways that the technology can improve their lives. And so that's where we see there's in some of the smaller to mid-sized cities, some easier avenues to move forward.

Tyler Suiters  17:22 

Let me walk you back just a little bit to the term constituents, for the uninitiated, and I include myself in that group of citizens of the first things that come to mind, right, where the constituents were the ones who will be using the roads, taking advantage of the green spaces, rotting in the STVs, whatever it might be. But from the Smart Cities Council perspective, when you're talking about municipalities and cities, constituents, and using a lot of civics words, here, you're talking about all the players who are going to make this happen, right, who are already in place, and after go through some pretty significant technological changes to bring they're city up to smart city level.

Jason Nelson  18:02 

Yeah, when you start adding devices into city processes, right, something as simple as smart street lights, you know, that have additional functionality, like gunshot detectors, or public safety cameras, or small cells embedded in them. That touches a lot of different departments, right. And in many municipalities, that streetlight might be owned by the local municipality service by public works, illuminating local streets for the Department of Transportation.

And so you have so many different stakeholders that have responsibility for the outcome of that solution that it has to bring everybody together. But more importantly, it has to solve a real priority need for those citizens. And it has to be something that that solves a real problem that the city is facing, it can't just be technology for technology's sake, it has to have a real application.

Tyler Suiters  18:57 

So when you talk about a unique situation, geography certainly comes to mind, right? So that unique application could be, gosh, somewhere like Minneapolis or St. Paul, Minnesota, where weather detection, road condition monitoring, things like that in the winter months are especially important. Whereas let's say St. Petersburg, Florida, is going to have a different set of priority needs.

Jason Nelson  19:21 

Yes, and every city is a little bit different. When you look at some cities, sustainability is a huge issue. We've got cities like Miami that are facing the early onset of climate change, and rising sea levels and sewers that are backing up in strong storms, other cities are dealing with congestion and transportation issues others are, it's about serving the underserved, they have a huge homeless issue that they need to try and fill some it's a digital divide. So there are different challenges within cities all across the country. And so we want to try and help them solve those challenges using technology.

There's a real opportunity here, for cities to get ahead. You know, we see smart cities as a journey. So you're never going to become a smart city. It's about getting smarter every day, right? It's about getting better along that progression. But it's more than a journey. What we see is a race. It's a race for economic development, a race for sustainability, a race for improve lives and an improved city citizen relationship. And those cities that get out in front of that journey, are going to have a huge advantage as they look to capture the benefits of those new services.

Tyler Suiters  20:34 

So you mentioned the digital divide, which is a challenge we hear talked about nationally all the time, and tech is the solution. This is the first time literally the first time Jason I've heard associated with smart cities, other than the idea and this is a broad brushstroke, that the digital divide is an element that sports writers will have to deal with, rather than Smart Cities being a potential solution. Am I reading you correctly on that?

Jason Nelson  21:01 

Yeah, so smart city technology, we see the opportunity to for smart city technology to create a more livable, workable and sustainable world for all residents. It's important that we include everybody in that conversation. You know, there was a program I was sitting on a panel in in Detroit this summer, and spoke to a number of folks that have actually created a service where they're bringing expectant mothers from underserved communities to their prenatal appointments using a rideshare service and they're getting data from the city to be able to help identify those at risk. Folks that need help.

The technology community is able to come together, provide them ride sharing, and get them to their appointments, and really solve that challenge of the gap between that that digital divide that we were talking about.

Tyler Suiters  21:57 

You mentioned small cell deployment early on, isn't it was within the context of a utility pole and who has jurisdiction over something like that. 5G seems to be intertwined with the development of smart cities, inexorably, right? They are going to go hand in hand. Can you have one without the other? Certainly you wouldn't want to have smart cities without 5G?

Jason Nelson  22:20 

No, I think 5G is going to be a base level technology that helps deploy so many additional services there, there are lots of services in there lots of applications that have no need for that, that for whom a an LP win system will be more than enough to provide the connectivity. There'll be even some data solutions that don't necessarily need it. But we see 5G as a foundational technology and folks like Intel and AT&T and Verizon T-Mobile and all of our partners that are working on this issue, are going to be able to help provide that that foundational support and make sure that there's interconnectivity between the very various devices, and making sure that that that those solutions are generating real returns for the citizens.

Tyler Suiters  23:06 

Well, let's, if you would, Jason, let's walk through, I guess I call it a future case study something that hasn't happened yet. But you live here in the DC area..

Jason Nelson  23:15 

I do.

Tyler Suiters  23:16 

Washington, D.C., what does a smart city look like when applied to a place like Washington, D.C., and let's set the federal government aside for just a moment? And pretend we're really just another, you know, one of the top 10 largest and most urbanly dense cities around? What goes on here?

Jason Nelson  23:33 

So I think with smart city technology, it's, as I said, it's about solving real problems within the local community. And so, you know, there are opportunities to create efficiencies, using smart city technology, whether it's smart parking, smart …

Tyler Suiters  23:49 

Smart programmers, yeah, yes, right here in Washington.

Jason Nelson  23:53 

Things like that make a huge difference. But there's ways studies have shown that it increases revenues, it creates efficiencies on enforcement, and, you know, cities are able to redeploy assets that they would be spending on emptying change out of parking meters, for example, two things that are able to better help the citizenry and do a better service for the community.

Tyler Suiters  24:17 

So what else goes into that you get beyond parking and kind of quotidian issues of day to day commuter traffic, right? Like I don't have to drive my car, my car will drive for me that can be much more efficient, doing what I need to do on the way to the office rather than waiting until I get there. Take us deeper though, what are the some of the things we might not be thinking about there?

Jason Nelson  24:36 

Well, with smart city technology, I think it's about creating that improved city citizen relationship. So there are new opportunities to, you know, everybody hates going to the DMV, right? Everybody hates standing in line, everybody hates waiting. So if there are ways that we can create a more seamless transition for citizens, so that there are there are less of those types of opportunities, whether it's waiting in traffic, or waiting for parking, or circling around the block looking for that next parking spot, there are opportunities there to just create a much better relationship.

And then what we're seeing in when it comes to economic development for cities, I think we're seeing a really good example of that here in Washington, especially with the Amazon HQ2 initiative right there. They're looking for those to relocate their new headquarters to a place that has those principles of smart city technology already on the ground, you know, if you read the list of what they're looking for, it's all of those types of initiatives. And so we see those winning cities that are advancing those discussions, being able to capture that type of economic development.

And, you know, the Amazon HQ2 initiatives are really good one, it's very high profile, but that's happening at a special smaller scale, with companies everywhere, all around the nation every single day. And so you don't want to lose sight of those opportunities.

Tyler Suiters  26:09 

What is the big ask right now? From the smart city community? Is it is it a B2B ask, Is it a B2C ask? I assume that B2C is going to have to wait until the technologies are more broadly implemented, and that adoption will certainly come?

Jason Nelson  26:27 

Yeah, so we see a smart city technology is something where everyone wins. You know, the citizens win the city's win, you know, the citizens get more time back, it's a smoother relationship, that city gets additional efficiencies. And then you know, the suppliers are able to come in and, and, and sell really great solutions that help people. And I think that that's the sort of triple bottom line benefit that everybody's looking for here.

So what we're recommending that cities do is go through a planning process, bring all of the constituents to the table, the various city departments, the local utilities, the citizens and business groups, and get them all together to identify what are those core needs, within their communities, identify what are the priorities among those needs, and then start to build a systematic plan for how to address those.

So that's one of the things that we're trying to do through our 2019 Readiness Challenge Grant. We're bringing cities to the table, helping them understand the ways that they can leverage this technology and then start to build those plans for how to take advantage of it.

Tyler Suiters  27:35 

So let's look ahead to CES 2019. What are you looking for? What are you seeking there? On the ground? Is it a specific kind of technology? Is it a broader understanding among the stakeholders, it's a second year we've had it in Vegas, it's growing considerably and already significant interest.

Jason Nelson  27:53 

It was a great event last year. And I'm looking forward to seeing that additional development of the those technologies, I want to see that deeper understanding of city needs, I want to have great conversations as I did last year with both cities that are interested in leveraging the technologies in their community, but also with those solution providers that are trying to understand how they can serve needs within those communities.

Tyler Suiters  28:18 

So you're seeing the people that you need to talk to at CES, it sounds like that there is a broader recognition on a local or micro level, that this seems to be just a discussion we want to have right now.

Jason Nelson  28:32 

Yeah, and I think CES is a great place for it. Because there were talking about technologies in so many different realms, from connected vehicles to data solutions to all kinds of other consumer technology devices that exist within you know, your cell phone. So there it's a great opportunity to bring all of those different communities together and help them show how they can work for cities.

Tyler Suiters  28:55 

Alright, so you are a huge live music fan. I am and he which may not be a big enough adjective, right? Walk through what life will be like for you on a Thursday evening, when you're going to see a live concert after work in a smart city. What does that look like?

Jason Nelson  29:12 

Yeah, so I think it starts by taking a look at traffic patterns on my phone identifying the best way to get there, I'd love to see you know, get a get a rideshare down to the venue. You know, maybe I'm taking a scooter, maybe it's a bike, maybe it's you know, calling a local ride sharing service and being able to get down to the venue quickly, efficiently easily. Then, you know, if I'm if I'm parking, great, I'm able to do that quickly and easily identify a spot go right to it. And then when I'm at the venue, I'm able to share over 5G technology or additional the experience that I'm that I'm there and everything is connected everything seamless. And there's no hiccups, bumps or anything along the way.

Tyler Suiters  29:58 

Yeah, I'm glad you added in the fact that you can maximize FOMO from all your friends who aren't, actually you are all right. Jason Nelson, Executive Director for partner engagement with the Smart Cities Council. Great conversation, Jason. Thanks so much.

Jason Nelson  30:11 

Thanks for having me.

Tyler Suiters  30:14 

Okay, next time we are focusing on C Space. If you haven't been to C Space at CES in 2019. Make it the year you go C Space is where leading CMOs and content creators, Hollywood and media, they all congregate to uncover disruptive trends that are changing the future of brands the future of marketing. And for all of us, the future of entertainment and our conversation is with a key disruptor and early disruptor in the music sector, Pandora.

All right, we want you to be CES ready. So subscribe to this podcast. You won't miss any of our episodes and you will be CES ready by the time the show comes upon us. It is January 8-11 in Las Vegas. CES 2019 information you need to know is all on our website CES.tech, that is CES.tech.

As always, none of what you hear is possible without the superstars behind this show: our producer Tina Anthony, and our engineer John Lindsey. You all are the very best in the business, as far as I'm concerned.

I am Tyler Suiters, and let's talk tech again soon.