I've been spending a lot of time doing pro-bono work where I live, in Oakland, CA, because I felt a call to action, as so many of us have over the past 7-8 years, and while I found plenty of organizations who want to sell answers to cities like Oakland I haven't found any who care enough to spend time getting to know the people who live here in order to deliver real value to its communities.
This is why I created SmartOakland, with my co-founder, Michael Ford at the City of Oakland's Department of Transportation. It's been about two years now we've been collaborating and figuring out how to capture constituent ideas and turn them into real projects for the city.
There's been a lot of talk about Smart Cities, but it usually includes big, expensive, technology vendor marketing pitches that don't answer what people actually want.
Over these past two years working with the City of Oakland, as a pro-bono service provider, I was involved in the Federal DOT call for Smart City Challenge in 2016 and later supported Oakland's Resilient Oakland Playbook using art and storytelling with youth to define the future of Oakland.
It's been close to two years and it's clear Oakland is ready to be a Smart City but it is missing a central organization to manage these activities for the city. It cannot be owned by city government, or by the constituents, so we created a non-profit to bring multiple players to the table to define what should be designed, funded, and built to be delivered in the city.
SmartOakland is a culmination of this work over the last couple years and while it's new we're already gaining a lot of momentum in addressing our unanimous shared concern for lead poisoning in Oakland.
I'll write more about our "Get the Lead Out" GTLO program in another post. Thanks for tuning in!