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What is a Smart City?

“A city that creates value by forming an ecosystem of partnerships through shared resources and technologies of all kinds that saves time and eliminates costs, generates new sources of revenue to its constituents, and captures value by delivering the triple bottom line: economic, social, and environmental. Without a business model, technology is useless.” – Professor Solomon Darwin.


On May 6th,  TiECon 2016 invited Solomon Darwin as a keynote speaker and moderator to address the Smart Cities topic.  The session included a panel of thought leaders, all representing commercial, academia, and business municipalities. Panelist included: Florian Kolb, Managing Director of RWE; JA Chowdary, IT Advisor and Special Chief Secretary, State of Andhra Pradesh; Mahesh Krishnaswamy, Head of Manufacturing-Project Loon, Google; and Sridevi Koneru Rao, Sr. Director, Business Development, Cisco Digitization Office.

In the spirit of Open Innovation, each panelist discussed how technology copes with issues accompanying urbanization to provide services and a better quality of life to its citizens. Panelists offered their perspective and approach towards smart city solutions. JA Chowdary spoke with certainty about how digitalization can help make overall improvements to cities in India. He is interested in investing in tomorrow’s technology for the cities of the future. The Andhra Pradesh government has been a forerunner in Smart City development and hopes to become smarter by building a digital interface.

Sridevi Koneru Rao also shared her insights on how digitalization is taking the interconnected data and enhancing user experience. The goal is to always enhance user experience, and to take advantage of  hyper-connectivity, and thus move from Smart Cities to Smart Villages.

With this, Professor Solomon Darwin introduced his most recent project and upcoming course: Smart Villages Leveraging Open Innovation. This project has had in-depth involvement from corporate companies.  Mahesh Krishnaswamy has played a key role in the project’s development.  When Professor Solomon Darwin asked: There are two groups of people in the world – 1.5 Billion Rich living in developed nations and 5.5 Billion Poor living in developing nations. Which group benefits the most through creation of smart cities?  Can Smart Cities exist in isolation without rural areas? Where 70% of the people still live? What solutions does technology offer to bridge this gap?  Krishnaswamy answered: There are over 4.5 billion people in rural areas living without internet. Everyone needs to be connected regardless of economic background; Rural parts of the world will play a key role in the field of interconnectivity.

Smart Villages continue to develop with the help of prominent government leaders, corporate entities, students, and people who are passionate to see a change in the world. Open Innovation brings together key forerunners in the field of technology, entrepreneurship, business, and multi-disciplinary sectors. TiE has helped foster these connections.


TiEcon 2016 hosted 239 speakers, and over 4,752 attendees from different sectors around the world.