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How do you leverage Open Innovation to build Smart Cities of the future? Professor Darwin shared the fundamental building blocks of Open Innovation, through the explanation of three frameworks: Open Innovation, the Triple Helix, and the Business Model.


“There’s a mind behind a Smart City. There’s intelligence and that’s you.” – Professor Solomon Darwin


Such intelligent designers and planners decide on what resources will be used and how they will be allocated. Since Professor Darwin’s course is project-based, this particular job category now falls directly upon the students. Food and water, safety and security, housing and transportation, education and entertainment, communication, and energy are all factors which will be addressed in their upcoming winter trip to Vizag, India where student groups will propose a sustainable, technological Smart City solution to the Chief Minister of India’s Cabinet.


“What do you need to build a smart city?” Eager students suggested data, plans, a budget, communication, reliable Internet, and knowledge of the selected city and relative culture. Professor Darwin also emphasized crucial basic necessities such as energy and water as well as intelligent minds who can thoughtfully, creatively, and carefully construct an idea into action. “For a city to be Smart”, Darwin says, “it must be instrumented (have resources such as a sensor which passes information along), interconnected (creates communication from individual to individual), and intelligent.”


“What happens when you cut down a forest? Paper companies will make a lot of money, but the balance sheet of the planet dies. We need to keep both things equal because the earth does not have a CEO.” – Professor Solomon Darwin


The students will take the 3 P’s into account to create a sustainable solution: People (Do they benefit the people in that area? Is it needed?), Profit (Do the revenues outweigh the costs? What is the economy of scale?), and Planet (Is it sustainable and beneficial for the environment?). The Triple Helix, Open Innovation, and the Business Model will also be crucial aids to their projects.


“The key to resiliency is innovation. Don’t let ideas sit on the shelf and collect dust” – Professor Solomon Darwin


Guest speaker Param Singh, CEO of IoTracks Inc and advisor to the CIO of San Francisco and IoT startups, relayed the use of sensors in Smart Cities such as San Francisco. Coinless parking meters, easy navigation for those with inhibited eyesight, traffic control, and automatic LED street lights show how technological transitions using apps help people on a daily basis.


IoT takes non-living objects and gives them value through linking them with networks which can send and receive information in a broad and efficient manner. Such open connectivity makes things “work.” Instead of circling around and around until you find parking, you can open an app and see where an empty spot is located. The students will use similar IoT ideas to build upon existing technologies in India, and improve their areas of focus.


We have the technology. Now it is only a matter of changing the minds of individuals who have been taught to keep their information closed. Openness is the key.“The first thing I recommend to cities is to open their data.” How can we convince cities to do this? If we deconstruct what smart means and communicate that the sharing of data will make people’s lives easier, we have a better chance at convincing companies to move toward Open Innovation and technological advancement.



By Lorja Fogel