“Do Smart Cities really mean Smart Regions?” asks PK Agarwal during his guest lecture at Professor Darwin’s Building Smart Cities Course (UGBA 193i). Agarwal serves as CEO of TiE Global, a non-profit organization fostering entrepreneurship, and formerly served as the Chief Technology Officer for the State of California under the appointment of former Governor Schwarzenegger. Under his leadership, he successfully streamlined IT, “saving taxpayers over $60 million dollars and helped create an enterprise with a budget of over $200 million.” (Future500.org)

At the Garwood Center, Agarwal delivered a guest lecture entitled “The Challenges of Collaboration in Bay Area Governments and Tech Driven Transformation.” He shares his knowledge and experience in eGovernment and IT driven transformation, two key pillars of a Smart City. Students employed their experiences with Smart Cities in India during the Travel Phase of the class to actualize Agarwal’s teachings.

With over 90,000 government entities in the US, Agarwal claims that there are “too many government jurisdictions” that inhibit the potential of American regions. US demographics are not as black and white as cities, counties, and states. He cites the Bay Area as a prime example of such inhibition. “There is nobody responsible for managing the Bay Area region,” Agarwal says.

“Do Smart Cities really mean Smart Regions?”

Cities can leverage the concept of Open Innovation to streamline various processes. Agarwals says that cities didn’t hit the peak of efficiency with the eTransformation of government services. He recommends that agendas for government agencies focus on collaboration, from public safety, to transportation, to air quality, and beyond. The debate lies in the division of these collaborations: processes, resources, and financing.

The students leveraged on their experiences in Ahmedabad and other cities in India to make for what was a dynamic dialogue on the state of American regions. Agarwal cites the importance of Open Innovation amongst three sectors for the progress of American regions: government, industry, and academia, working together and sharing information. Through this culture of collaboration, we can extend the integration of our services past the process of eTransformation, and onto a more promising future for our cities.

By Jon Caña

joncana@berkeley.edu