In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the city of Houston made it a priority to embrace technology, taking steps to use cloud, share data, and improve resiliency.

“We need to have a much more connected infrastructure as we move forward, utilizing emerging technologies where we can share data, not only across my 23 departments, but across the city, both in the public and private sector,” said Sylvester Turner, mayor of the city of Houston, during a January 24th event at the New America Foundation.

The city decided to implement a cloud platform to enable other emerging technology, such as Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and artificial intelligence. The need for a smart city approach was clear to Mayor Turner, both in serving citizens and ensuring a strong economy.

“We’re competing against London. I’ve talked with the mayor there, and he said, ‘We’re creating the city of AI.’ I said, ‘Well, so are we,’” he quipped. “The question is, who’s going to get out in front?”

Turner also addressed the importance of investing into smart city technology.

“Every city has its budgetary problems, and you’re always looking at how can you increase your operational efficiencies, and how can you do more with less?”

“When you’re able to utilize emerging technologies to create this connected infrastructure, then you’re able to meet more needs in a much more efficient fashion,” he noted.

Turner specifically pointed to projects to install Wi-Fi on public transit, sensors to test the air for storms, and efforts to determine sanitary sewer discharges.

“We can do a lot more if we are creating this smart city, utilizing this technology over multiple strategies, multiple departments, and its not just for the city itself, in terms of city hall. It’s for the people that we serve.”

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