By Vinay Vijay Singh, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Global Markets and Michael Marangell, International Trade Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service. In addition to heading the Discover Global Markets Business Forum Series, Vinay heads the International Trade Administration’s Smart City Task Force and recently published Smart Cities, Regions & Communities: Export Opportunities. Michael was part of the team that designed and executed the recent DGM forum in Chicago.
It took 108 years for the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series. It was a fitting time for nearly 300 U.S. exporters from 27 states, industry experts, and international dignitaries to convene in Chicago (November 1-3) for Discover Global Markets: Building Smart Cities (DGM), the latest in the U.S. Commercial Services’ DGM series. The global urbanization trend will require rapid deployment of smart city solutions in much less time than a century for citizens to integrate into cities with a high quality of living. It is estimated that the world will need to create a few cities the size of Chicago every year for the next 15 years to accommodate citizens seeking their path to prosperity.
The three-day event, began with a formal welcome from invited speaker Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago. During his remarks, Mayor Emanuel highlighted the city’s data-driven planning methods and the recently deployed Array of Things, a sensor network designed in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory to monitor pedestrian and vehicular traffic, noise, air quality, and temperature.
Attendees had the chance to hear thoughts on market opportunities from more than 60 industry leaders ranging from the Chief Technology Officers of Motorola Solutions and Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector to the Chief Executive Officers, Partners, and Founders of such innovative small businesses as AECOM, InfoBright, Skipping Stone, and RWL Water. Key sectors of focus included transportation, energy, and water infrastructure, as well as cyber security, the Internet of Things, energy efficient building designs, and wireless connectivity.
In addition to industry thought leaders, DGM played host to high-level international delegations. Leading the luncheon discussion on November 2nd, for example, was Leocadia Zak, Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, who was joined by Pravin Kumar, District Collector and Magistrate for the City of Visakhapatnam, and Hari Narayanan, Commissioner of the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Council. Later that afternoon, Nguyen Than Phong, Chairman of the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City and members of his 19-person delegation presented the city’s developing technology and infrastructure plans. And, to kick-off the program on November 3rd, Singaporean Ambassador Ashok Mirpuri joined Acting Under Secretary for International Trade Ken Hyatt for a discussion on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and U.S.-Singapore collaboration.
Also present at the event were U.S. Commercial Service experts from more than 21 markets, each one available to meet with U.S. companies while sharing thoughts on emerging Smart City, Internet of Things, and infrastructure opportunities in their markets. In total, 397 pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings were held between U.S. Commercial Service staff and U.S. exporters.
While 55% of the world’s population already lives in cities, that percentage will only increase as urbanization continues to accelerate. With 70% of global GDP coming from cities, urban planners are being pressured to invest in new technologies and infrastructure to ensure that their cities continue to provide economic security to constituents. Doing so requires ensuring the delivery of power and water, providing for sanitation, and reliable transportation for goods and people.
U.S. companies are uniquely positioned to capture business from these investments. The U.S. Commercial Service, a part of the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, has resources in more than 100 cities around the U.S. and in more than 75 markets around the world to help them do so. More information can be found at https://export.gov/SmartCities.