Data analysis has become so common we often take it for granted. By revealing trends and patterns, applications can predict weather and allow us to navigate traffic. Information from COVID tests is used to reduce the spread of disease. We can even use this data to enhance the quality of life, solve environmental issues, and improve commerce, especially as we enter the new normal.\n\nIncreasingly, government agencies are collaborating with technology providers to create smart cities that support vibrant communities.\n\nThe concept of smart cities is not new. It began in 1970 in LA with the first big data project. Then in 1994, Amsterdam created a virtual digital city to promote internet usage. Increasingly, smart cities are springing up across the globe to specifically address each community\u2019s unique needs.\n\nThe intelligence in these municipalities comes from connecting devices and using data purposefully to make informed decisions. Here are some examples of how smart cities are using data to improve communities:\n\nLocal governments are using smart city initiatives to create processes and policies that drive positive change. But they can\u2019t address the issues alone. Partnerships between government and technology are producing results.\n\nI\u00a0spoke with Paul Riser, serial entrepreneur, former Chief Information & Technology Officer of Innovation Health Technologies, and current Director at TechTown Detroit, a longstanding incubator and accelerator aimed at revitalizing Michigan\u2019s largest city. Currently, Riser\u2019s work is focused on leading\u00a0Detroit Urban Solutions, where he is scripting the intersection of urban initiatives (including mobility, public health, energy, water tech, etc.), applying tech and smart city strategies\u00a0to develop Detroit to meet the needs of its citizens.\n\nDetroit Urban Solutions places residents first, working with stakeholders and city leaders to develop solutions to deliver a more equitable and improved quality of life. Riser\u2019s success is in his approach, beginning by developing trusted relationships within communities and ensuring that the beneficiaries understand, embrace, and leverage technology to better their urban environment.\n\nIn Detroit and other regions, the ability to leverage technology to more effectively manage communities will become even more important as we rebound from the pandemic. Technologists may offer the secret sauce to navigate these uncertain times, by choreographing the collaboration between technology, business, and government, where each plays a different role. Governments provide laws, policies, and maintain the infrastructure. Businesses focus on generating revenue, selling products, and attracting clients. Technologists will build the infrastructure and, importantly, manage data privacy, which is paramount for maintaining public trust and confidence in smart cities.\n\nThe internet generates large quantiles of data that can track our every movement, our searches, who are our friends, and our preferences. It can tell just about everything. Because it is not always possible to strip personal identification from data, technologists need to create protocols which protect the public and keep private data private. \n\nCIOs will be well positioned to manage stakeholders, consciously placing the good of the community above corporate profitability and political agendas.\n\nBy 2050 it is expected that 68% of the world\u2019s population will live in cities. These increases in urban populations will put a strain on the infrastructure, schools, hospitals, and transportation. Smart cities provide effective solutions for managing urban growth. And technologists will be at the forefront of helping to manage these initiatives, working alongside urban planners to regulate resources, reduce pollution, and design cities where citizens can thrive. The technologists are an integral part, the silent hero, making smart cities even smart(er).