ITA Spotlight: City Tech Collaborative
Sunday, March 11, 2018
Posted by: Gary Hotze
Brenna Berman, Executive Director, City Tech Collaborative (City Tech), @CityTech_
City Tech reinvents cities. We dedicate ourselves to bringing technology solutions to cities that elevate the voice of the community.
In 25 words or less, what is City Tech all about?
City Tech transforms cities into testbeds for new ideas. With partners and people, we remake essential services and infrastructure, from skills to skyscrapers.
What problem do you solve and how do you address it better than the competition?
City Tech is dedicated to solving complex urban challenges that no single institution can solve alone -- everything from mobility to waste management to digital inclusion to public health. What sets us apart is our process. We are committed to co-building. We scope timely problems and then form coalitions bridging industry, city departments, philanthropy, community stakeholders, and end users together to solve them. For each solution City Tech incubates, we focus on using technology to design precise, measurable results with a clear path to scale.
How did you get started?
Our team just launched at the end of 2017! We were born from a merger between City Digital and the Smart Chicago Collaborative. City Digital was launched in 2015 to leverage Chicago’s commitment to bring essential services and infrastructure into the modern era; Smart Chicago was formed in 2010 to increase people’s access to the Internet and digital tools. Now, as City Tech, we reimagine cities as places where technology fuels opportunity, inclusion, engagement and innovation.
How has your company culture evolved as City Tech has grown?
City Tech is a young, energetic organization. The team is passionate about making cities equitable and efficient. Our staff houses a great collection of expertise in energy, transportation, health, design, and telecommunications. I look forward to seeing how our culture evolves as we onboard even more community partners and team members.
What are your primary goals for City Tech?
Our primary goal is to engage residents in the designing and deployment of new urban technology. We aim to weave resident feedback loops into our collaborative solution processes. Whether we're building a database of health services in Chicago or piloting a new solution to reduce CTA congestion, we want to make sure that urban innovation is inclusive and delivers public value.
Where do you see City Tech in two years? Five? Ten?
As the smart city field evolves, so will City Tech. While we currently cover a breadth of challenges at the intersection of cities and technology, we also see potential to specialize our expertise and service offerings in specific lines of business like mobility, sustainability, and logistics.
What’s the No. 1 thing on your to-do list?
I want to continue to build a robust and well-rounded team! I'd like to see City Tech grow with more good communicators, thoughtful collaborators, and subject matter experts that are both creative and mission-driven.
What are the most significant challenges you face as you scale your business?
The most significant challenge is finding the right talent. At City Tech, we need people with a deep understanding of advanced technology and in-depth knowledge of public sector challenges facing cities. Since our work sits at the intersection of people and emerging technology, we need staff with relevant expertise and experience that also get City Tech's unique value proposition.
This one is all you. Anything else you want to tell us?
The era of individuals solving significant problems by themselves is over. As a former Chief Information Officer for Chicago and a current member of the IoT Council, I've seen how much further collaboration can take us when it comes to leveraging technology to improve cities. City Tech is dedicated to forming the right consortium to solve significant, timely problems that exist in Chicago and elsewhere. We're always looking for new city partners, companies, and community organizations to join us. Interested? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org or follow City Tech's work on Twitter and LinkedIn.