Unlike neighboring counties such as San Francisco or Santa Clara, San Mateo County’s significant population is not contained within a single, dominant city like San Francisco or San Jose. Rather, the County of San Mateo is comprised of 22 cities, 23 school districts, and large unincorporated areas. It is home to technology-savvy public and major businesses in technology, health care, and finance, yet also includes substantial suburban and rural communities. The absence of a large leading city with deep resources and expertise places County government in a unique role to be both a technology thought leader and a regional facilitator for broad-based technology investments.
I recently took part in a meeting with top IT executives from a number of local cities. Someone asked what a smart city actually was. Several people had ideas and suggested definitions, but we quickly realised that a universally-accepted explanation doesn’t exist–the concept of smart cities is still too new and too complex.
Personally, I believe a smart city is one that utilises sensors, data, and technology to improve the lives of residents and visitors. Other definitions vary in detail, scope, and emphasis. To many, this lack of a clear vision makes the idea of incorporating smart city technology intimidating. However, I believe it should be viewed as an opportunity. We are in the early days of a revolution; it is up to each of us to develop our own vision, strategy, framework, and roadmap.