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Congressional Smart Cities Caucus co-chairs Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) in coversation with Axios' Kim Hart. Photo: Jeff Snyder for Axios

On Tuesday evening, Axios Cities Correspondent Kim Hart hosted a series of one-on-one conversations to discuss the future of smart cities, highlighting technology like AI and IoT.

Jeff Marootian, Director, District Department of Transportation
Jeff Marootian answers a question from Kim Hart. Photo: Jeff Snyder for Axios

Director of the District Department of Transportation, Jeff Marootian, discussed how transit in Washington, D.C. has changed in the past ten years, and how the advent of ride-sharing apps has put pressure on the curbside.

  • How cities are fundamentally reimagining how the curbside works: "[D.C.] recently finished a pilot program with a curbside reservation system which allows for commercial delivery drivers to reserve curbside access so they don't have to circle around a block in order to find a place to pull over, to make a delivery or to do a food pickup.
  • On looking for creative solutions at the DDOT: "We have a great opportunity to reimagine our infrastructure. We know that the technology alone isn't going to get us there and the infrastructure alone isn't gonna get us there. It's really the marriage of those two things."
Hicham Abdessamad, Chief Executive, Global Social Innovation Business, Hitachi, Ltd. and Chairman of the Board, Hitachi America, Ltd.
Hicham Abdessamad in conversation with Evan Ryan on the Axios stage. Photo: Jeff Snyder for Axios

In our View From the Top segment, Hicham Abdessamad sat down with Axios Executive Vice President Evan Ryan to discuss leveraging available data in cities to solve big problems around congestion. He highlighted the success of a recent initiative in Tequila, Mexico, which tracked the flow of people in and around the city center.

  • On looking at the big picture: "It's not really about smart cities. It's about solving big problems."
  • On utilizing available data to create smart cities: "We don't have the luxury to build cities from scratch all day. Countries around the world do that. So how do you retrofit or how do you leverage what's already out there to basically look at the problem and solve it in a different way?"
Kim Nelson, Executive Director, State and Local Government Solutions, Microsoft
Kim Nelson on the Axios stage Tuesday evening. Photo: Jeff Snyder for Axios

Executive Director of State and Local Government Solutions at Microsoft, Kim Nelson, discussed the challenges for cities of all sizes to figure out what their top priorities are for leveraging technology, both in the short and long term.

  • On what catalyzes change: "Sometimes it's just an event that actually grabs a city, a leader or a mayor, and says it's time for us to do something about it...Houston is a great example. In the aftermath of [Hurricane Harvey], the mayor soon realized into his term that city wasn't nearly as resilient as it needed to be. And that started the conversation. "
  • On what it means to be a smart city: "Smart isn't simply about the technology. It's not about just the infrastructure, the sensors or the hardware. Being smart is about having the information."
Rep. Yvette Clarke and Rep. Susan Brooks, Congressional Caucus on Smart Cities Co-chairs

Congressional Caucus on Smart Cities Co-chairs Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) took the stage together to discuss constituents' priorities around access, cybersecurity, and privacy as cities continue to get smarter.

Rep. Yvette Clarke

  • On converting phone booths into wi-fi kiosks: "It's nowhere near what it needs to be in terms of being ubiquitous throughout the city of New York. But we know that the infrastructure and the commitment is there. And that commitment and investment has yielded dividends already."

Rep. Susan Brooks

  • On preparing the workforce of the future, particularly around cybersecurity: "We have to invest in those strategies at all levels of education, whether it's the teams in schools, whether it's coding camps, whether it's certification programs. We've got to think very differently about higher education and about how we are ensuring that everybody is ready for what is coming."

Thank you Hitachi for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Cuomo asks New York AG and chief judge to choose "independent" investigator into sexual harassment claims

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Feb. 24. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

A special counselor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement Sunday asking the state's attorney general and chief judge to jointly pick an "independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation" to investigate claims of sexual harassment against the governor. The AG's office subsequently turned down the offer, saying it wants to conduct its own probe.

The state of play: The statement is an about-face from Cuomo, who had previously selected a former judge close to a top aide to lead the investigation, the New York Times reported, a move that was widely criticized.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.