SAE Blog Text

What Will it Take to Create a Smart City

Posted: Thursday, April 8, 2021

In order for mobility to reach the next level with truly connected infrastructure, many traditional and nontraditional institutions will have to come together. While OEMs and mobility engineering will continue to drive the industry forward with innovative vehicles and technology, it’s also likely that regulators and local leaders will step into new roles. City-specific rules will play a big part and we will need to explore unique forms of cooperation, public/private partnerships and multiple shifts in strategy. To accomplish these synergies, standards will be become mission critical within all sectors of the government when interacting with the smart cities ecosystem and private industries. 

We recently sat down with Sean Gouda, business development manager for electrification at DTE, to get his take on the future of connected cites. 

What is it going to take to get to the future of smart cities?
Before we can even think about smart cities, we need to develop detailed local initiatives to support these goals. For example, where I live in Michigan, continued public and private support of our existing smart cities initiatives in Detroit, Grand Rapids ad Ann Arbor will be mission critical. We also need to establish proof points through pilot projects that demonstrate the benefit of a connected mobility ecosystem. A great example of this is the recent announcement of Cavnue, a company designing physical, digital and operational infrastructure to pave the way for autonomous vehicles and smart systems. Last summer they announced they would be creating a 40-mile driverless vehicle corridor between Downtown Detroit and Ann Arbor. This connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) corridor will be the foundation to grow Michigan’s smart cities initiatives. 

What are three things people in the industry need to know about smart cities and infrastructure right now?
First, investment and transformation are already taking place. 5G communication infrastructure coupled with smart energy grid assets are currently being deployed to create the foundation for connectivity and sustainability. Second, significant opportunities already exist to address cybersecurity, including public/private partnership pilot programs that address and understand existing vulnerabilities. Third, new standards will be essential within all sectors interfacing with the smart cities ecosystem. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has already begun to categorize standardization activities into three levels:

  • Level 1, Strategic — This first level consists of providing guidance to local or state governments and other bodies identifying priorities. This is also where we begin implementing road mapping, monitoring and evaluation of pilot projects. 
  • Level 2, Process — In the next stage, we focus on procurement and project management best practices so we can effectively execute our plan down the line. 
  • Level 3, Technical — This is where we address technical specifications and requirements necessary to implement smart products and services. 

What is the value of partnership in this process? How does an event like WCX help to form and build these partnerships?
Smart cities require commitment and cooperation from the beginning, including urban planners, government officials, visionaries and many technology and mobility companies. Every level of planning requires collaboration and the convergence of resources to generate stakeholder value, address challenges and develop solutions. On another level, we need to be in alignment because the pursuit of a smart city ecosystem will have a huge impact on how our customers interact with us as well as how we serve them. It’s important to attend industry events like WCX because this is where the conversations occur, partnerships develop and we can learn more about the exciting paradigm shifts occurring.

What are the benefits of attending WCX for someone in your position?
The obvious benefits of attending WCX are to meet with mobility’s biggest leaders from OEMs to software engineers. But in addition to the networking and education, this is also where you’ll have those conversations on the side that can lead to significant partnerships or new ideas. You never know how you’ll be inspired, but when you’re at an event with the industry’s most significant thought leaders, you know it’s going to be a meaningful investment. 

Interested in learning more about smart cities and infrastructure? Register now for the WCX Digital Summit—April 13-15, 2021—where leaders in mobility go to see the latest technologies in action and collaborate on the future of mobility. 

**The ideas shared are Sean’s opinion and do not reflect DTE’s position.**