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Smart Cities Group: Creating the City of the Future

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Collaboration between government, industry and citizens is key to realizing the promise of smart city technology. This is how the Washington, DC based Smart Cities Group is bringing these players together. 

smart cities group

Imagine the city of the future.

The sound of a gun shot echoes through a suburban street. Sensors mounted on top of street lights automatically triangulate the location of the sound and alert the proper authorities. Drones equipped with multi-sensor array cameras are automatically dispatched to the area. Police arrive on the scene. Live feeds from the sensor arrays onboard the drones and other surveillance cameras like side-mounted, fixed assets are integrated giving the Command and Control Center and the officers in route as complete a picture as possible prior to arriving at the scene.

This, according to William Tewelow, the National Coordinator of the Smart Cities Group and organizer of the local Smart Cities DC meetup, is just part of the vision for smart cities in the future. 

There are a number of players working towards making smart cities a reality- ranging from local, state and federal governments to some of the largest companies including technology firms and utility companies and energy and transportation companies.

Companies like Uber and Lyft are heavily investing into smart transportation initiatives like driverless cars. A person, in the very near future, in fact already taking place in some cities, will order a car with their Uber of Lyft app and be picked up by a driverless car. That will take some getting used to. There are plenty of opportunities for startups and developers because the technologies making up what is being called “smart cities” are in their early stages of development.

Through the Washington, DC based Smart Cities Group, William brings many of these different players together to present, connect, collaborate and consult on issues and initiatives related to smart cities

What is a Smart City?

Growing interest in the smart cities concept is a result of an amalgamation of factors — including financial pressures, advancements in technology, and government visionaries pushing for utopian ideals that lie just beyond the horizon.

smart cities group

A smart city is an urban development vision founded largely upon the Internet of Things (IoT) and Information & Communication Technology (ICT) to manage a city’s assets. These include transportation systems, emergency services, natural resources, sustainable energy, sustainable development, logistics, security and law enforcement, schools and hospitals.  

Through implementation of ICT, city officials can interact directly with the community and city infrastructure to monitor how the city is evolving, what is happening in the city and how to improve the quality of life for its residents.

Smart Cities Group: Connecting the Players

William believes greater collaboration and outreach is necessary to realize the promise of smart cities and effectively develop and deploy those technologies to the scale necessary. William explains, “When it comes to smart cities and smart technology, we have all of these disconnected technologies, industries and government entities that don’t really have an open platform to communicate with one another and each have their own self-interests. We are creating that space for them to come together along with financiers and venture capitalists. I’d like to be telling a story six months from now about two or three start-ups from developers and entrepreneurs in the group who made the right connections because of this platform.”

William says, “The group attracts people interested in connecting with others in the realm of Smart Cities, IoT, autonomous vehicles, predictive analytics, cloud computing, integrated surveillance, smart utilities, and the growing list of other technologies that will define the industry.”

smart cities group

The Smart Cities Group includes the national and international meetup chapters, a newsletter and consulting services. The Smart Cities meetups are project-based as well as product and process based. 

Project driven meetings are an opportunity for local administrators and project managers to introduce the technologies and products being used on the project to the community. The companies working on that project have an opportunity to present how their products will benefit citizens. This allows these projects to gain more publicity and better engage with the local residents. “This brings government closer to its constituents and provides for better return on investment because the community is more involved,” says Tewelow. “When you connect people to projects and products to people in real world ways there is a greater social impact.

Smart Cities: an Opportunity for Entrepreneurship

Encouraging collaboration between government and industry, says William, “helps entrepreneurs maintain that vision of how what they are doing connects to the rest of the world.”

William believes including entrepreneurs in the conversation on smart cities is critical. This is because the rise of smart city technology is not driven just by governments and tech titans like IBM or Cisco. Entrepreneurs, hackers and activists, eager to be a part of an industry estimated to grow to $27.5 billion by 2023, are also building the technology that will transform cities.

For tech companies eager to take part in the market for smart city technology, William sees a big opportunity. In fact, many companies are rebranding themselves as smart city companies and recalibrating existing products for smart city applications to attract investments from venture capital firms that see the large potential for growth in the smart city market. 

Growing the Smart Cities Group Network

William has plans to expand the Smart Cities Group beyond Washington, DC to other cities, both in the United States and internationally. William said, “My goal is to create success with a core group of cities and let the success of those few cities create momentum.” 

“Washington, D.C. is uniquely positioned because it is one of the primary cities of the Council of Global Cities CIO’s, along with San Francisco, New York, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Dubai and The Hague. All have very strong smart city initiatives, so the meetup groups could pop up along the path of the global cities.”

William is also growing the business through the Smart Cities Insider e-newsletter that will go out to all Smart Cities meetup members in all chapters and other interested subscribers. The Smart Cities Insider will summarize the highlights of the meetup groups taking place and feature interviews with industry leaders.

The group will also grow through consulting services from subject matter experts in its well experienced and engaged membership.

How to get Involved

Interested in joining in the conversation to learn more about the huge economic explosion that is taking place.? Sign up here to join a Smart Cities meetup group in your area. If you are interested in starting a Smart Cities meetup group in your area, you can do so via the links found on the page. The group is seeking sponsors and speakers to present. The group also likes to host special guests of honor. If you are interested in any of those please contact the group coordinator for more information.

For companies interested in sponsoring the Smart Cities DC group, more information can be found here

If you would like to advertise in the Smart Cities Insider newsletter, please contact William Tewelow at contact@Smart-Cities-Group or Soheila Yalpani at

Want more insights on smart cities and smart technology? Follow Thinkstr on Facebook and Twitter for more content.

Soheila Yalpani View All

Soheila is the founder of and the Principal of Oppfinn Consulting. As a project manager and consultant, her interests lie at the intersection of innovation and societal impact. On, she writes about business, technology, travel and smart cities.

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