For cities across the country to embrace smart technology, the federal government will have to help make that happen, according to experts on a Digitizing Infrastructure panel hosted by The Hill.
Brian Pallasch, the managing director for government relations and infrastructure initiatives at the American Society of Civil Engineers, said the federal government must be a better partner for state and local governments on the smart technology issue.
“The reality is the federal government has not come to table with enough money for about a generation of infrastructure building,” Pallasch said. “So it’s about time for the federal government to step up and spend a little bit more.”
But fixing the country’s infrastructure is no longer just about pouring concrete, according to Kansas City, Mo., CIO Bob Bennett. The nation’s infrastructure must continue to be digitized. One way to prioritize that is ensure any local project in the next infrastructure bill should include the word “smart,” he said.
Some federal agencies are helping with these efforts already. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, for example, has been working to create standards that will allow cities to “play on the same playing field in terms of what data we’re going to collect at the micro level, so industry can come to us with sensors or technologies that apply not just to Kansas City, but to also to other cities,” Bennett said.
And the Department of Transportation's 2016 Smart City Challenge fueled the momentum for cites that aimed to integrate innovative technologies -- self-driving cars, connected vehicles and smart sensors -- into their infrastructure.