‘Architects of the City’s Future’

September 20, 2016 |


Mayor Michael Hancock and Panasonic Enterprise Solutions President Jim Doyle kick off Daniels’ Voices of Experience speaker series for 2016-2017 with a powerful discussion about the smart city initiative in Denver’s Aerotropolis.

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Panasonic’s Jim Doyle, Mayor Hancock, Dean Chrite

University of Denver Chancellor Rebecca Chopp’s promise that the night’s discussion would be powerful, set the tone for the Sept. 19 Voices of Experience event, which was all about the power of technology.

The first VOE in the Daniels College of Business’ annual speaker series for the 2016-2017 academic year brought Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Jim Doyle, president of Panasonic Enterprise Solutions, to campus for a discussion about the smart city initiative being planned for the area surrounding Denver International Airport. The city has partnered with Panasonic to create a 400-acre, sustainable, mixed-use, transit oriented development area on Peña Boulevard in Denver’s “Aerotropolis,” to be called “Peña Station Next.”

Daniels Dean Brent Chrite introduced Doyle and Hancock—who he later described as “the architects of the city’s future”—and led a panel discussion following their presentations.

Calling it “One of the most exciting, if not the most exciting endeavor our company has embarked upon,” Doyle provided context for Panasonic’s partnership with Denver. The company has smart city initiatives all over the globe, including the successful development of a community in Fujisawa, Japan, eight years in the making that houses 400 families. As Panasonic sought to expand its efforts to North America, Denver stood out as the logical location for the country’s first smart city.

“Having such a powerful, global transportation hub of this magnitude is extremely important,” said Doyle against a backdrop photo of Denver International Airport. “For us, having that rail—the A Line—was absolutely critical to the decision for starting the Smart City initiative in the U.S. in Denver.”

“Our greatest port is our airport. We don’t have water. So we have to maximize our airport,” echoed Hancock, who emphasized the concept of working “smarter not harder” throughout his presentation.

The creation of Peña Station Next will require 20-30 years of planning, design and development, and an estimated $5.6 billion investment. The vision for the area includes retail and residential spaces and a micro-grid that uses a mix of battery storage and solar panels to power the entire 400-acre area. Additionally, the site would include community WI-FI with virtually unlimited bandwidth, smart lighting, smart parking, interactive digital signage, wayfinding, security and a move toward autonomous vehicles.

While technology is a key to the initiative, both Doyle and Hancock emphasized the human element of equation.

“At the end of the day, smart cities are about people. You have to start with community, mobility, energy, security and safety,” said Doyle, who indicated that Peña Station Next would center around a lifestyle where cars aren’t needed.

“It’s about making our residents lives better, simpler, more comfortable and more connected,” agreed Hancock, who went on to address the dire need for innovative solutions to accommodate Denver’s dramatic population increase. “Tonight you and I are in one of the fastest-growing cities in America. There are 4,500 new residents moving to the region every month, and 1,000 new residents moving to Denver every month.”

Population shifts, aging infrastructure, climate change and limited resources all account for growing global interest in the development of smart cities, which, according to Doyle, are no longer novelties but necessities. “Smart Cities can fundamentally change how we live, how we play, how we work, and they’re fundamentally required for us to exist on this planet, going forward.”

Acknowledging its groundbreaking nature, Chrite asked the speakers to account for the success of the partnership between Denver and Panasonic. Both cited an alignment of visions and values, strong leadership, open-mindedness and collaboration. Perhaps most important, however, is the willingness to invest in the future.

“We won’t be here to finish this deal,” said Hancock. “It’ll be our children and our children’s children who see the finish line.”

Learn more about Voices of Experience including the upcoming session, “Healthcare Disrupted,” on Oct. 4.


 

Smart Cities Executive Education Conference

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IBM’s George Thomas

On Tuesday, people who wanted more in-depth information on Smart Cities, attended an all-day Executive Education Conference on the topic.

The day featured Denver’s smart city leaders, global experts and organizations leading the smart city initiatives of the future. Keynote speakers included Rana Sen, managing director at Deloitte Consulting LLP & Deloitte Consulting Public Sector and Aiden Mitchell, vice president of Arrow Electronics’ IoT Global Solutions.

At one of the morning sessions, George Thomas, global director of Strategy & Market Development for IBM’s Global Government Industry, spoke about “Cities as Crucibles of Transformational Change.”

“If you look back 10 to 15 years, how we fundamentally lived in the world was different than how we live today,” he said.

Thomas outlined three big technology trends. The first trend involves our digital devices and all the data collection that goes with them.

“The vast majority of data that’s being collected is non structured,” he said. He gave examples such as MRIs, X-rays and audio files. Thomas said that it’s important to collect this useful data and IBM is spending time on how to make sense of unstructured data.

The second technology trend involves coding. Thomas believes learning code will be fundamental and children will learn it in preschool just like they learn English now.

The third technology trend is how computing is entering the cognitive era. Thomas said computers are capable of reasoning and learning, and they’re better at some things than humans, including locating knowledge, pattern identification and eliminating bias.

He sees this area as a huge advantage for organizations who lose knowledge when people leave. 

“Imagine if organizations never lose critical knowledge that it’s learned over its lifetime,” he said.

Thomas was one of many speakers throughout the day. Attendees heard from representatives from Denver Public Works, Zayo Group, Zypryme, Lyft, Arrow Electronics and the City and County of Denver.

Learn more about Smart Cities and Executive Education at DU’s Daniels College of Business.