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Smart cities, stupid president

illustration by Tyeesha Bradley


Smart cities, stupid president

Recently, I attended a conference in Silicon Valley California where the subject of the conference was the coming trend of this concept called “Smart Cities”.  When people refer to smart cities it might be wise to think of your “smart” phone rather than the politicians or leaders that happen to reside in so called “smart” cities.  Basically the impetus behind the concept of  smart cities is not all that high tech or new: it is simply an attempt to make government more efficient, responsive and safer, by using data, sensors, and technology to accomplish this.

 As an example, there is a company right here in Indianapolis that has figured out that  around 25% of water that goes thru a water treatment facility gets lost either because of leakage or theft yet most water utilities have no way to track or identify the losses .  Thru the use of smart sensors and data gathering techniques water utilities will be able to cut waste enormously. 

Another sensor that is incredible (not as new as I originally thought, however,  not very many cities are deploying the technology in their public safety departments) alerts local law enforcement the instant a gun is fired.   In an instant a dispatcher can know where a gun was fired and will be able to deploy public safety resources much more quickly. This might be a must have for school buildings throughout Indiana. 

 When I was sitting there being awed by the new ideas that are deploying world -wide I couldn’t help but notice at the very same moment, the least smart guy to ever inhabit the office of President was doing something that most rational people are left scratching their collective heads about.  Two weeks ago he fired the head of the FBI and sent his minions out to lie about why until he fessed up the next day.  It was really one of the stupidest moments I can recall at 1600 Penn. Then he told the Russians in the Oval Office highly classified information that probably burned the source of the information, and then when he was in Israel, he compounded the stupidity by stupidly saying “I never said Israel”.  No one accused him of saying who gave him the info, they were accusing him of telling the Russians about the threat and made it easy to figure out where it came from. Then he blurted out confirmation.  Seriously this man is stupid.   Oh and as a side note, he also seems unaware that Israel is in the freaking Mideast.

 The contrast is almost overwhelming.  This conference was made up of city leaders from around the globe coming together to share ideas of how to make local government smarter and better and our President was making it harder for anyone to trust that leaders can do anything right.

At this conference, there were breakout sessions on artificial intelligence (fancy word for robots), autonomous vehicles (they drive so you don’t have to) and tools for small business to harness big data in the public domain to make opening a new business that much easier.  All of this will be here sooner than you think, I predict. 

My big fear is that with our national leadership creating chaos every week, smart investment and bold transformative ideas will be started in places where these entrepreneurs feel stability and a sense that leaders see their value.  Does anyone think Donald Trump spends five minutes thinking about any of this on a deep level…or bigly or dare I say “smartly”.

I think it may make a pretty good point in the end.  Much like a smart phone, a smart city (or smart country) is only going to be as smart as the person who operates it.  I still wake up amazed that this child is the leader of the free world. And here is the rub, it won’t be for long.  Either he will be gone or the world will look elsewhere for leadership, because if you don’t see he is not the person for this job, the rest of the world does, believe me.

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Kip Tew is a partner at Ice Miller and the former head of the Indiana Democratic Party, the Marion County Party, and headed up the Obama campaign in Indiana in 2008. He is a regular talking head on WRTV-6's Indy This Week. Other than politics, he also loves sports, particularly the Colts, Pacers, and Indiana Hoosiers football ( yes football) and basketball. He is the author of the book Journey to Blue, How Barack Obama won Indiana in 2008

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