Partner Webcast

The Connected City: Trends and Developments Driving Smart City Innovation

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IEEE Collabratec

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About the Webcast

The technological components of a “smart city,” including everything from smart grids and driverless cars to automated buildings and advanced sensors, can be complicated. But the core question behind the purpose of a smart city is quite simple: does it make human lives better?

That’s the key theme explored in the webcast “The Connected City: Trends and Developments Driving Smart City Innovation,” produced by MIT Technology Review and IEEE Collabratec. Three influential subject matter experts with different backgrounds in developing smart cities delve into how these cities influence their human populations. Other discussion topics include government’s role in advancing smart cities and key trends affecting the smart-cities landscape. The speakers also examine the required factors for creating intelligent urban environments including a vision, efficient use of technology, an environment that attracts a talented workforce, and an enabling infrastructure.

Dr. Massoud Amin, a professor at the University of Minnesota and IEEE fellow, focuses his research on the energy that powers smart cities, such as the important global transition dynamics needed to enhance these intelligent systems and the technology influencing them. Dr. Ryan Chin, CEO of OptimusRide, concentrates on urban mobility systems, with intriguing work on a network of self-driving, shared-use, and electric vehicles called Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand (MoD) Systems. Finally, Nigel Jacob comes from the world of civic innovation, working specifically on making urban life better via cutting-edge, people-oriented applications of technology and design.

“Everything we do is geared towards improving human condition and advancing the civilization that we often take for granted,” Amin says. “As engineers, we enable better quality of life for people.”

The bigger-picture discussion continuously points to the idea of promoting a “people-first” approach to developing smart cities. For example, one topic of concern is how involved residents are in transforming their communities into “smart cities.”

“For the past several years, we have been experimenting with several online platforms that are designed to make civic engagement as easy as possible,” Jacob says. “We have always seen this as an opportunity to explore the interface between the public and the private sectors.” By incorporating public input into the decision-making process, communities can feel confident that the systems are doing what’s needed and requested.

“The whole idea of a smart city is not just about power or buildings. It’s about the whole ecosystem--how you educate people, how you empower people, the economic growth it can bring and what opportunities it can bring,” Amin says.

Continue the conversation on IEEE Collabratec, where smart city concepts and ideas are debated, reviewed, and explored every day.


  • Massoud Amin
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    Massoud Amin
    Director and HW Sweatt Chair, Technological Leadership Institute, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Technological Leadership Institute and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Minnesota

    Massoud Amin, the director of the University of Minnesota Technological Leadership Institute (TLI), is considered by many to be the “'father of the smart grid.” A professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Amin is also chairman of the IEEE Smart Grid, a fellow of the IEEE and ASME, and a member of two utility industry regional entities. Since 2003, he has given four briefings at the White House and nine Congressional briefings on smart grids, security, and leadership in scientific R&D. He has also maintained an active research program, making significant contributions in predictive system identification methods coupled with analytical and multi-domain modeling, fast simulation, and optimization and testing methodologies.

    Before joining the University of Minnesota, Dr. Amin was with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in Palo Alto, California. He is the author of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and editor of seven collections of manuscripts, and he serves on the editorial boards of six academic journals.

    Dr. Amin holds BS (cum laude) and MS degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and MS and ScD degrees in systems science and mathematics from Washington University.

  • Ryan Chin
    Read Bio »

    Ryan Chin
    Managing Director and Research Scientist, City Science Initiative, MIT Media Lab; Inventor of the MIT CityCar: Foldable, Shared, Electric Vehicle and CEO of OptimusRide

    Ryan Chin is a Research Specialist and PhD Candidate at the MIT Media Lab. His research in urban mobility systems addresses the energy and mobility problems of 21st century cities such as energy efficiency, congestion, urban land-use, and carbon emissions leading to global warming. He has led and managed the conceptual and design development of a series of Lightweight Electric Vehicles (LEVs) within the Smart Cities group including the CityCar, RoboScooter, and GreenWheel Smart Bicycle.

  • Nigel Jacob
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    Nigel Jacob
    Co-founder of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, a civic innovation incubator and R&D Lab within Boston’s City Hall.

    Nigel Jacob is the cofounder of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, a civic innovation incubator and R&D lab within Boston’s City Hall. His work is about making urban life better via innovative, people-oriented applications of technology and design. Prior to joining the City of Boston in 2006, Nigel worked in a series of technology startups in the Boston area. He was also the urban technologist in residence at Living Cities, a philanthropic collaboration of 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions. He is currently a board member at organizations such as Code for America and coUrbanize and an executive in residence at Boston University.

    Nigel’s work has been written about in magazines such as Wired, MIT Technology Review, and Fast Company and books including The Responsive City, by Stephen Goldsmith and Susan Crawford, and Smart Cities, by Anthony Townsend. Among other awards, he was named a Public Official of the Year in 2011 by Governing magazine and received the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation award for 2012.

  • Jason Pontin
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    Jason Pontin
    Editor in Chief and Publisher, MIT Technology Review; Chairman, MIT Enterprise Forum, Inc.

    As editor in chief, Jason Pontin is responsible for the editorial direction, media platforms, and business strategy of MIT Technology Review, including the rapidly expanding U.S. and international websites, the award-winning print magazine, videos, newsletters, business reports, and live events such as EmTech, the company’s annual conference focused on emerging technologies. He also serves as chairman of its international entrepreneurial network, MIT Enterprise Forum. Mr. Pontin joined MIT Technology Review in 2004 as its editor and was named publisher in August 2005.

    From 1996 to 2002, Mr. Pontin was the editor of Red Herring, a business and technology publication. From 2002 to 2004 he served as editor in chief of the Acumen Journal, which he founded, covering the business, economic, and policy implications of discoveries in biotechnology and the life sciences. He has written for national and international publications, including the New York Times, the Economist, the Financial Times, Wired, and the Believer. He is a frequent guest on television and radio.

    Mr. Pontin was born in London and raised in Northern California. He was educated in England, at Harrow School and Oxford University.