Giving Compass' Take:

• The author relays some key takeaways regarding technology from the Smart Regions Conference, hosted by smart city investment firm Venture Smarter in Columbus, OH. 

• What are some ways to address the generational gap between elected officials and the potential learning curve for technology?

• Read about how technology is helping to build equitable smart cities. 

Cities aiming to become smarter should look to cooperate heavily with their neighbors, but be careful to ensure they keep people — not technology — at the forefront of any experiments in technological innovation.

Those were some of the key lessons from the Smart Regions Conference, hosted by smart city investment firm Venture Smarter in Columbus, OH over two days late last week.

That collaboration has already been fostered in initiatives including the Congressional Smart Cities Caucus, U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Smart City Challenge and Smart Infrastructure Challenge, with the winners of the latter being unveiled at this conference.

While innovation and new technology can be exciting for cities to introduce, staying focused on using that technology to improve their residents’ lives should remain the top priority, multiple speakers said.

During a roundtable of mayors, several raised concerns that the age gap between elected officials at the city level and those who are looking to promote smart city technology and innovations, as the older generations are typically the ones in power and are sometimes distrustful of new technology.

“Many of our mayors are not of the younger generation, and don't see the possibilities, don't see what a smart city is,” Riverside, OH Mayor Bill Flaute said.

While technology can be used for all manner of good in cities, a key tenet should be its use for public safety and resiliency, according to multiple experts in the space. If technology can be harnessed to keep residents safe, cities will see a great benefit.

The need for regional planning across jurisdictional boundaries was thrown into sharp focus by Thea Walsh, director of transportation systems and funding at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), who said in a speech the region will add one million people by 2050.

Read the full article about technology for smart cities by Chris Teale at Smart Cities Dive