2019 Smart City Summit (SCS), Austin, TX, USA

By Fawzi Behmann - Summit Chair, USA; Director, IEEE ComSoc NA Region

We are pleased to report that a special 2019 IEEE full day summit was held November 1, in Austin at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). We had over 133 participants from different regions of the U.S. and other locations such as Italy, Namibia, and Africa. Remote connections were set up with Guadalajara, Mexico and Athens, Greece. There was a healthy mix of IEEE members (total 75) and non-members (58) in attendance.

One of the objectives of the summit is to attract new members. There were 30 ComSoc members of which 16 are new members. This brings Austin to be the second highest attracting new ComSoc members in 2019 in the content of ComSoc special services of membership development across multiple cities globally.

Over 60 companies and institutes were represented from cities/municipalities, the medical community, industry and startups, as well as multiple universities including professors, researchers and students. The theme of the summit was to examine the effect of disruptive technologies on potential innovative use cases for Smart Cities, Mobility and Healthcare. Disruptive technologies being considered include IoT, 5G, and analytics AI/ML/DL.

by 6:30 pm. It had an opening segment followed by three keynote speakers, each followed by a deep dive session, followed by an executive round table discussion and then networking and showcase products and solutions.

Introduction and Welcome Segment

The opening of the summit was given by Fawzi Behmann, the Summit chair who spoke about the value proposition of the summit and differentiation being brought by IEEE-based events. He provided an outline of the program and invited the audience for engagement and leverage networking opportunities during breaks, lunch, and the product showcase and networking reception. This was followed by Stephen Elkins, CIO of the city of Austin, who welcomed the attendees on behalf of the city and the mayor and spoke about the challenge that Austin is facing. The summit host was Dr. Dan Stanzione, Executive Director of the TACC, a nationally recognized leader in high performance computing in the top five high performance systems in the world. Dan extended a warm welcome to TACC, highlighting the value of the institute, collaboration with IEEE and extended invitations to technical tours. The guest speaker from IEEE was Tom Coughlin, President of IEEE USA. He spoke on “Smart Cities and Public Policy” describing efforts by IEEE with collaboration from many societies working on Future Directions initiatives to develop the technology that enables the Internet of Things and powers Smart Cities.

Keynote Speakers and Panel Sessions

The first keynote speaker was Dr. Patricia Florissi, Vice President and Global CTO for Sales, Dell/EMC. She gave a talk on “Digital Cities: Ready or Not, Here They Come”.

To many, AI still remains a research pilot or workload that only cloud-native companies, such as Netflix, can effectively execute. In reality, AI is becoming ever more pervasive and ever more mission critical. Take autonomous driving as the killer app of this decade, driving digital cities to become one of the next. In this talk, Florissi discussed several architectural patterns innate to the anatomy of AI-enabled, cloud-native digital cities. Following the first keynote was a deep panel session on “Smart Cities” delivered by five domain experts and a moderator and focused on advancement and disruptive technologies such as IoT, 5G, Analytics, Blockchain and security and their impact in building smart cities. The panelists provided a set of use cases and potential challenges.

The second keynote speaker was Mr. John Cole, Founder of SkyTran, who spoke about “Smart Infrastructure for Smart Cities”. Elevated guideway transport networks like skyTran can serve as much more than a transportation system. They can be the infrastructure on which people, freight, power and data move with unprecedented efficiency and reliability. The second keynote was followed by a deep five-person panel session on “Mobility and Autonomous Vehicles” exploring the transformation from an Advanced Assisted Automated System (ADAS) to Full Autonomous Vehicles with AI/ML for mobility and last mile.

Dr. David Atienza, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and head of the Embedded Systems Laboratory at EPFL, Switzerland, delivered the third keynote. He spoke about “Ultra-Low Power Wearables Systems: The Quest for Brain Efficiency”. Smart wearable devices are poised as the next frontier of innovation in the context of Internet-of-Things (IoT) to be able to provide personalized healthcare by also interacting with everyday objects. This new family of smart wearable devices provides a great opportunity for the next-generation of artificial intelligence (AI) based medical devices. However, major challenges remain in achieving this potential due to the inherent resource-constrained nature of wearable systems, coupled with their (in principle) limited computing power and data gathering requirements for Big Data medical applications, which can result in degraded and unreliable behavior and short lifetime. This new trend of smarter wearable architectures will need to combine new ULP multi-core embedded systems with neural network accelerators, as well as including energy- scalable software layers to monitor medical pathologies by event-driven monitoring. This was followed by a five-person deep panel session on Healthcare. The focus was to explore the transformation to smart health and wellness, diagnosis, treatment and prevention, smart hospitals/tele-health/telemedicine and personalization.

The three keynote speakers were outstanding and the three panel sessions brought the best from domain experts in the areas of mobility, healthcare and smart cities.

The executive panel recap session covered technology and the impact on key use cases, describe the rational pushing of autonomous vehicles vs. personalized healthcare, and which areas need to be addressed in future events.

As commented by many, the summit was a great success and was of high quality reflecting the commitment, dedication and sacrifice by many. The event included a host of talented and skillful speakers, exhibitors, an organizing committee and advisory committee, and host of dedicated volunteers.