Diane Moca: Welcome to Talking Cities. I'm Diane Moca.
From megs and gigs, to fiber and broadband, the language of techies has infiltrated government. Elected officials are bombarded by appeals to buy technology that's promoted as a solution. But that onslaught has created a new set of problems, trying to understand the jargon, wondering about any real benefit to constituents and guessing at the possible return on investment.
Video: You guys were a cash cow. That's what we came to cities and governments for. You didn't have the expertise and we sold you what we could to make quota.
Diane Moca: Charles Baker was one of several experts sharing insider info during a Connected Cities Conference tour that stopped in Aurora recently. Charles spent years selling for AT&T but now he's executive director of Aurora's nonprofit internet service provider. He admits, "Too many government leaders get their tech education from salesmen who focus only on their company's approach, making it hard for elected officials to connect the dots and see the big picture."
Rolling Meadows Mayor Joe Gallo knows this communication gap can prevent cities from adopting the right tech for their community.
Video: I know there are phenomenal city managers and phenomenal city councils, but we can't be phenomenal at everything. We have shortcomings and we have gaps in our level of understanding. And so we do need translators. We need individuals who are trustworthy, who have rapport with us in our community who can translate this information.
Diane Moca: That kind of enhanced understanding can happen with more dialogue among peers and subject matter experts during panel discussions like this one, as part of programs from the Illinois Smart City & Region Association and through media partners.
Video: Yeah, I think it's critical that we have platforms and opportunities to speak about the fiber. Talking Cities gives us another way to just talk about what we're trying to do. And then also the public–private partnerships that are out there, or even in the academic world.
But there are different people that are in this community of resources that are available to them. How do you get that message out? You can hold events. You can do it online, a lot of video streaming of events and podcasts that are out there.
Because Engagement is the most fundamental, important point of networks and network connectivity.
Diane Moca: Getting that straight talk all in one place can shift the focus from hardware or software to the way tech will actually improve lives. But even if government workers understand the vision, they have to sell it to elected officials and taxpayers.
Video: I need a direct path to the chief of staff and the mayor, and I'm not going to be under any CFOs. I'm not going to be under any HR directors. I will have a seat at the table.
We're great at making decisions. We're phenomenal at looking at strategies and objectives, but we fall short on messaging those opportunities and those benefits to our constituents.
Diane Moca: It's ultimately constituents money that's being spent on innovation to make cities smarter in a way that's supposed to make residents lives better.
For Talking Cities, Aurora, I'm Diane Moca.
Tech Pros and Government Staff Work to Bridge Communication Gaps with Elected Officials