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Mayor Forum on Smart City: What Are the Tech Strengths for Silicon Valley Cities

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【Summary】Futurecar reporters were on site covering the Smart City Conference & Expo held at San Jose City Council. Nine mayors of Silicon Valley cities appeared together in a panel discussion, sharing with the audience about what their interpretation of a smart city is.

Original Claire    Jun 07, 2017 11:33 AM PT
Mayor Forum on Smart City: What Are the Tech Strengths for Silicon Valley Cities

Undoubtedly, Silicon Valley is the tech center of the world. So many tech giants are based here, and numerous startups are born each day. Cities within the tech hub are also known for being pioneers in civil engineering and trend catchers in high-tech. Futurecar reporters were on site last Friday covering the Smart City Conference & Expo held at San Jose's City Hall. Nine mayors of Silicon Valley cities including Fremont, Cupertino, San Jose, Dublin and Livermore,  appeared together in a panel discussion, sharing with the audience about what their interpretation of a smart city is. The mayors also released some of the civil projects that the cities are delving into.

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What does "smart city" mean to the mayors of Silicon Valley?

"A smart city is a city that's willing to take risks." Johnny Khamis, council member of San Jose said at the panel discussion, citing the example of autonomous car technology, and raising the questions of how the city is going to embrace it while avoiding accidents.

"How we could incorporate a lot of the technologies that are changing our community and utilize them to better the quality of our life." Lily Mei, Mayor of Fremont noted.

"It means you could pay all your bills through an app, and register online without being in the waiting list for a long line, we'll be able to have our traffic lights synchronized and talking to each other so we could understand how many cars are waiting, how do traffic more efficiently into our cities, anything technology can do to make our lives easier." David Haubert, Mayor of Dublin gave his envision of a smart city.

"Anticipating the problems, forward-thinking the technology issues. Sustainability, climate change, sea-level arises, IoT, big data." Peter Ohtaki, Vice Mayor of Menlo Park raised environmental issues that mayors should think of.

What are city's tech highlights?

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City of San Jose

"Philips are testing SmartPoles here; internet connected street lights are being tested here. Facebook is testing their WiFi network in San Jose. Our garbage businesses here even are testing new ways of recycle, compost and making new materials out of the waste being generated." Johnny Khamis talked about San Jose's recent achievements in building a smart city.

He also mentioned that the municipal government recently announced the Autonomous Vehicle Initiative. And the city is implementing a software system called MySanJose, that will be available on the iPhone for residents to report streetlight outages, potholes, illegal dumping, graffiti and many other day-to-day things.

"People who posted photos will get feedback from our city staff," Khamis added.

City of Fremont

While Mayor Mei of Fremont has mentioned the city as hometown of Tesla, the leading electric vehicle company, and the opening of a second BART station in Warm Springs equipped with EV charging facilities, which will be a significant convenience to commuters who live in Silicon Valley and work in San Francisco.

The Fremont City Council is also getting a head start on California's impending net zero energy plan by 2020 with a new law requiring new housing developments to install solar panels and wiring for electric vehicle charging stations.

City of Dublin

At the outer ring of Silicon Valley, Dublin is seeing growing number of high-tech professionals living in the area. The city has two BART stations and recently announced the plan to study an autonomous bus that will take people from the Bart station to where they need to go.

"We've also announced the Go Dublin! Rideshare Program, to eliminate unproductive bus routes where a giant bus with highly paid drivers are taking only two people toward where they need to go. Instead we're gonna use Uber, Lyft and taxi cabs; we would rather help subsidize a shared-ride than having a bus taking on a fixed route in a very unproductive way." David Haubert mentioned.

City of Livermore

"Livermore has one of the fastest supercomputers in the world, and the world's most powerful laser. Besides we have the longest continuously running light bulb for 116 years. We also have two national laboratories here." John Marchand, Mayor of Livermore proudly introduced the city in a different way.

City of Menlo Park

Being the home of Facebook, Menlo Park as a small city is actually the hub for venture capital. Many VC firms are located in the area. Peter Ohtaki, Vice Mayor of Menlo Park noted.

City of Cupertino

"Cupertino as the headquarters of Apple, will probably inaugurate the Spaceship landing very soon. Savita Vaidhyanathan, Mayor of Cupertino mentioned the new Apple headquarter that will be open soon.

"We are also known for our great schools. Annually we will hold Silicon Valley startup conferences, for people with new ideas and especially young people that are 18 and below." Vaidhyanathan also mentioned Hackathon, and other ideas raised by children such as Walking School Buses and Bike Train programs, to reduce traffic on the streets.


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