Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Puerto Rico Is Running Out of Options (BusinessWeek)

Congress averts its eyes from the fiscal disaster. 

In San Juan on Nov. 5, protesting cuts in federal spending for the island’s Medicaid and Medicare programs.

Puerto Rico doesn’t look as if it’s on the verge of economic disaster. Tourists are still flocking to its beach resorts. Malls, anchored by department stores like Macy’s and JCPenney, are full of shoppers. At rush hour, roads are clogged with late-model luxury SUVs. But after years of borrowing to prop up the island’s stagnant economy, the government faces $720 million in debt payments in the next two months, and it may run out of cash as early as December.

Puerto Rico doesn’t look as if it’s on the verge of economic disaster. Tourists are still flocking to its beach resorts. Malls, anchored by department stores like Macy’s and JCPenney, are full of shoppers. At rush hour, roads are clogged with late-model luxury SUVs. But after years of borrowing to prop up the island’s stagnant economy, the government faces $720 million in debt payments in the next two months, and it may run out of cash as early as December.

Government officials say meeting those obligations may leave them short of the cash they need to cover payroll, retirement benefits, and Christmas bonuses. Governor Alejandro García Padilla has said he’ll consider cutting hours for public workers to keep essential functions running. García Padilla has already closed some schools, delayed tax rebates, and suspended payments to government suppliers.

The Obama administration has offered a way out. On Oct. 21 the Treasury Department put forward an assistance package that would sustain the island’s medical system by increasing reimbursement rates for Medicaid, the public-health program for the poor. It serves 46 percent of Puerto Ricans and is paid at rates 70 percent lower than in any U.S. state, according to the Puerto Rico Healthcare Crisis Coalition, a group of doctors, hospitals, and insurers. It would also offer some bankruptcy protections to help the government restructure more than $70 billion in debt—more than any state’s except New York and California. In return, Congress would gain more say over the island’s finances. “The situation in Puerto Rico is urgent,” says Brandi Hoffine, a White House spokeswoman.

 One hundred thirty-five schools have closed or been consolidated

So far, Congress, which would have to approve the changes, hasn’t responded. A bill that New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer introduced in August to equalize Medicaid and Medicare rates has stalled. So has a bill by Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal that would allow Puerto Rico’s municipalities to file for bankruptcy protection. A bill introduced on Oct. 8 in the House by Puerto Rico’s nonvoting member, Democratic Representative Pedro Pierluisi, would guarantee some of the island’s debt, but it hasn’t attracted any co-sponsors. “We are fast approaching a catastrophe,” says Melba Acosta, president of the Government Development Bank, which oversees the island’s finances and debt. “We cannot wait any longer.”

Republicans say they won’t approve assistance to Puerto Rico unless its government provides audited financial statements giving a complete picture of its finances. Puerto Rico, a self-governing U.S. territory, missed a self-imposed Oct. 31 deadline for submitting statements from fiscal year 2014 and hasn’t yet prepared documents for the 2015 fiscal year, which ended June 30. Congress “is waiting for some good-faith effort from Puerto Ricans,” says Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, whose Energy and Natural Resources Committee oversees U.S. territories, says she’s still reviewing the administration’s proposals. “The one thing we all agreed on is that Puerto Rico is in a world of hurt right now,” she says. Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, who as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the island’s travails in September, says he’s receptive to the administration’s proposal to establish a control board to oversee the island’s finances. “We’re not moving very fast on that,” he says. “I’m not sure what we should do there.”

Democrats say hedge funds, which hold as much as a third of Puerto Rico’s debt, have discouraged action that would make it harder for them to get paid. “It has become increasingly clear that hedge funds, which have purchased a sizable part of Puerto Rico’s debt, are exacerbating the crisis,” says Representative Nydia Velázquez, a New York Democrat who introduced a bill on Nov. 4 that would increase disclosure requirements for hedge funds’ debt holdings.

Investors and hedge funds holding bonds from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or Prepa, agreed on Nov. 5 to a restructuring plan that would require them to take losses of up to 15 percent. “Blanket statements criticizing the role of bondholders aren’t just factually inaccurate, they are a clear example of damaging political rhetoric,” says Stephen Spencer, a managing director at Houlihan Lokey who is advising Prepa bondholders.

Puerto Rico’s economy has shrunk about 15 percent since 2006, when Congress ended tax breaks for manufacturers there. The unemployment rate stands at 11.4 percent, more than twice the national average. Forty-five percent of families live below the poverty line. Last year the island lost an average of 1,200 people each week to the mainland, the most since the U.S. Census Bureau began tracking departures a decade ago. “We’re on the verge of becoming a ghetto of old poor people,” says Elías Gutiérrez, an economics professor at the University of Puerto Rico.

Marielys Feliciano, a single mother of four who works in construction, sees no reason to stay. This summer, her neighborhood school outside the well-off city of Manatí was closed to cut costs. Now she has to wake up at 4 a.m. to get her children to another school and pays for a baby sitter to pick them up. When she called to ask about government assistance, she was told she’d be better off moving to the U.S. “I see the future here, and the doors are closing,” she says, folding her hands together. “I can’t limit my kids to a place where there’s no future.”

Monday, November 16, 2015

EDIT Newsletter-Economic Development and International Trade Unit (RER) Miami-Dade County

                                  TRADE MIAMI-DADE


Welcome to Trade Miami-Dade, the newsletter highlighting the activities of the International Trade Consortium (ITC) Board of Directors and the Economic Development and International Trade Unit (EDIT) of Miami-Dade County.  As the Chair of the ITC, I have the responsibility of engaging our local partners and making new commercial connections around the world.  The advantages of using Miami-Dade County and its superb international trade resources for moving product to and from anywhere in the world are formidable.  Our message is clear, Come Trade With Us, and together we can make Miami-Dade prosper.   We hope you enjoy Trade Miami-Dade, and that you will join us in promoting Miami-Dade as the Global Gateway.

ITC Chair Diaz Welcomes Irene Hirano Inouye, President, U.S. - Japan Council

From Left to Right: ITC Chair Jose "Pepe" Diaz and Ms. Irene Hirano Inouye, President, U.S.-Japan Council
 On October 28, ITC Chair Jose "Pepe" Diaz welcomed the President of the U.S. - Japan Council, Ms. Irene Hirano Inouye, to Miami for a networking event focused on helping to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and Japan.  The U.S.-Japan Council is a Japanese American-led organization that promotes people-to-people relationships through its innovative programs in networking and leadership. Also attending the event were several members of the U.S. House of Representatives, City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, and Acting Consul General of Japing in Miami, Masahiro Ogino. Japan is South Florida's 33rd-largest trading partner, with total trade approaching $1 billion in 2014.

High Level Algerian Delegation meet with Chairman 
Jean Monestime
The Honorable El Hadi Makboul, General Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, His Excellency Madjid Bouguerra, Algerian Ambassador to the United States in Washington D.C., met with Chairman
From Left to Right: His Excelency Ambassador Madjid Bouguerra, Chairman Jean Monestime and the Honorable El Hadi Makboul at the Stephen P. Clark Center
Jean Monestime at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center on October 26, 2015, marking the highest ranking Algerian officials to ever visit Miami-Dade County. Other Algerian officials  include: Mr. Ahmed Tibaoui, General Manager & CEO, World Trade Center, Algeria, Dr. Ismael Chikhoune, President & CEO, US-Algerian Business Council, based in Arlington, Virginia, Mr. Belkacem Abdessadok, Algerian Ministry of Commerce and Mr. Chakib Kouidri, Manager of Linkop Bureau d'Affaires, Algeria. The delegation informed Chairman Monestime, that the Algerian government would like to strengthen its bilateral ties with Miami-Dade County in light of the County's status as a Global Hub and Gateway of the Americas. The Chairman noted that "the U.S.-Algerian Trade & Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) signed July 2001, by both nations provides the platform to build a strong bilateral relations and the essential role of private investment, both domestic and foreign, in furthering growth, creating jobs, expanding international trade, improving technology, and enhancing economic development between both communities."

The delegation also met with representatives of Enterprise Florida and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. The Algerian delegation was in Miami to participate in the 19th Annual Americas Food & Beverage Show and Conference organized by World Trade Center Miami. Algeria was designated "Country of Honor'" at the Show.

Vice-Chair Audrey M. Edmonson Addresses OWIT International Fall 
2015 Board Meeting

Left to Right: Honorable Audrey M. Edmonson, Miami-Dade County Commissioner, and Vice-Chair of the ITC Board of Directors; Karen Bland, President of OWIT International; and Jennifer Diaz, OWIT International Board of Directors
The Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) - International, held Fall 2015 Board Meetings in Miami-Dade County from October 22 to 25.  Board members traveled from across the U.S. cities and Canada to participate in four days of meetings and networking events.  On Friday, October 23, OWIT members and members of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) - Miami, were honored to have the Honorable Audrey M. Edmonson, Commissioner of Miami-Dade County and Vice-Chair of the ITC Board of Directors, in attendance to proclaim that day as Organization of Women in International Trade Day. Meetings and discussions consisted of best trade practices, trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, along with business operational tutorials. Established in 1989, OWIT is a voluntary non-profit professional organization of women and men involved or interested in international trade and business. The organization continues its commitment in establishing educational programs, conventions and other activities to promote the employment worldwide of women and men in international trade.

EDIT Initiates collaboration at 13th Annual Supply Chain & Logistics Summit 2015

For the first time, the Annual Supply Chain & Logistics Summit hosted its U.S. conference in Miami on October 27 and 28, and EDIT promoted and exhibited at the show. The Summit focused on strategic planning and performance initiatives as leading supply chain experts share the latest issues influencing competitive supply chain strategies, supply chain risk management, technology breakthrough and supply chain innovation, logistics and distribution efficiency, demand-driven supply chain, supply chain talent management. While the show has previously been held in Texas, because of the collaborative efforts of EDIT, Enterprise Florida, the Beacon Council, Florida Customs & Freight Forwarders Assoc., PortMiami and Miami International Airport, the show's organizers, WTG Events, are considering permanently moving the Summit to Miami.

New South African Ambassador visits Miami-Dade 

From Left to Right: Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, Ambassador Mahlangu, Willam Talbert, III, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau; Carol Ann Taylor, Miami To Go
His Excellency Ambassador Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu, South Africa's newly-appointed Ambassador to the United States of America, visited Miami-Dade County,  October 26-28, 2015 Ambassador Mahlangu met with Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Commissioner Dennis Moss at the Mayor's Office on October 28. The Ambassador also met with Commissioner Audrey Edmonson and Mr. Bill Talbert at a private luncheon hosted in his honor by the Greater Miami Convention Bureau.  At these meetings, discussions focused on matters of mutual interests and ways to solidify the cordial and robust relations between Miami-Dade and South Africa.  Ambassador Mahlangu also addressed a cross-section of South Florida's economic development agencies and business executives at a business round table meeting organized by the South African Association of Business Communities, in collaboration with the Econo mic Development & International Trade Unit, Enterprise Florida and the Beacon Council. His Excellency also attended a private luncheon hosted by the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) in his honor.
From Left to right_ Commissioner Dennis Moss_ Ambassador Mahlangu_ and Mayor Carlos Gimenez
From Left to Right: Commissioner Dennis C. Moss; Ambassador Mahlangu; and Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez
A cross-section of business executives at the Business Rountable Meeting held at the Beacon Council


Pictured from L-R: Brinks Global Services Life Sciences Director Leandro Moreira, PortMiami Director Juan Kuryla, IATA Regional Vice President Peter Cerda, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, Miami-Dade Aviation Department Director Emilio T. González and MDAD Chief of Staff Joseph F. Napoli.
The Geneva-based International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced on November 4, 2015 that it has designated Miami International Airport as the first pharmaceutical freight hub in the United States and only the second in the world.

Mr. Peter Cerda, IATA's president presented the prestigious Certification to Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who received the award on behalf of MIA's Director Dr. Emilio Gonzalez. MIA Pharma's freight hub Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) certification by IATA will now highlight the airport to the pharmaceutical industry as a trusted industry leader following best practices within the pharma logistics and transports procedures. The value of pharmaceutical imports and exports moving through MIA grew by 79 percent between 2010 and 2014, from about $1.8 billion in 2010 to nearly $3.3 billion in 2014, according to figures supplied by MIA. Not including airport in-transit pharma cargo. 


T Pictured Left to Right:  Tim Roberts, Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Ambassador Peter Heyward, Desmond Alufohai and Manny Gonzalez, Chief Economic Development & International Trade Unit.
Ambassador Peter Heyward, Chief of Congressional Liaison, Embassy of Australia, Washington D.C.., visited Miami.  He was accompanied by Mr. Tim Roberts, Congressional  Liaison Officer, Embassy of Australia. They met with the Honorable Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Miami-Dade County  Commissioner and Chairman, Board of Directors, International Trade Consortium at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center.  Ambassador Heyward indicated that he was in Miami to attend the Australian Art Exhibition at the Perez Art Museum. He noted that he would like to increase Australia's footprint in South Florida in light of the region's status as the "Gateway of the Americas." They discussed ways to foster closer economic and cultural ties and increase bilateral trade and business contacts between.  In 2014, Australia was the United States 25th ranked trade partner with total bilateral trade amounting to $37.34 billion.  Australia was South Florida's 53rd trade partner with trade volume of $24 million.

From Left to Right: Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez; Severine Gianese-Pittman, President of the French-American Chamber of Commerce and Philippe Letrilliart, Consul General of France in Miami 
On November 5th, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez addressed a group of 50 French local businessman and women at a lunch hosted by the Consulate of France in Miami and the French-American Chamber of Commerce (FACC) in the context of the 8th edition of "French Week". France is South Florida's 12th largest trading partner with a total trade of $2.65 billion in 2014. Mayor Gimenez mentioned that one of the direct results of his recent trip to France last June was the official visit of a delegation from the City of Marseille scheduled for June 2016.  The Mayor also mentioned that one of the results of this trip was the signing of a Sister Seaport Agreement between PortMiami and Marseille Fos Port Authority. Mayor Gimenez spoke about Miami-Dade County as a "global hub" for business/trade, technology and innovation and invited French companies to continue to work together to solidify business relationships between France and Miami-Dade.

A total of 26 appointments occurred between businesses from Martinique and their Miami-Dade counterparts during the business-to-business (B2B) matchmaking meetings organi
zed by the Economic Development and International Trade Unit. The business meetings were held at the Miami Free Zone on Novem
ber 12, 2015.  The Martinique delegation comprising of 8 companies, were in Miami as part of the "French Week" festivities. The delegation produced a
"Martinique Spice & Fashion Show" event at the Miami-Beach. Mr. Denis Herault, the mission coordinator, stated that "this is our 5th consecutive year of bringing a trade mission to Miami because of Miami's geographic position as the Gateway of the Americas. We want to capitalize on using Miami's global platform to establish our presence here so people can source for our products through a "collectif office" in Miami."  The companies from Martinique include: Aeroclub de Martinique, CGIT Consulting, Collectif Coop Export Martnique, Extreme Chic, Martinique Developpement, Mike Aviation, NASDY Caraibes SARL and RDGEO.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The world's smartest cities: What IoT and smart governments will mean for you

Intelligent cities are at the forefront of the next wave of the Internet of Things. The goals are to streamline communication and improve the lives of citizens. And save a little money along the way.

One of the next big targets of the digital age is the city. The combination of technology paired with physical infrastructure and services can simplify the lives of residents. That's the promise of the "smart city."

The concept is the result of the ever-expanding Internet of Things (IoT), with transportation, utilities, and law enforcement among the many areas being impacted. This is the ideal time for such technology, since more than 60% of the world's population will live in cities by 2050, according to a report from Cisco Systems.

Early adopters of smart city technologies include the European cities of Barcelona and Amsterdam. The concept has quickly spread into other countries, with Copenhagen, Dubai, Singapore, Hamburg, and Nice, France following suit, and U.S. cities are also getting smarter with San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Miami and San Antonio among those adding capabilities.

Companies such as Cisco, IBM, Intel, Silver Spring Networks,, GE Lighting and Siemens are among those providing smart city solutions worldwide.

Austin Ashe, manager of Intelligent Environment for Cities at GE Lighting, said, "Everyone has their own definition of an intelligent city. To us, an intelligent city is a city that can collect data efficiently and bring it in a way that is meaningful to them. It can enhance revenue, or ultimately offer citizens new services that they never before had."

Anil Menon, Cisco's deputy chief globalization officer, said, "A smart city is a city that uses digital technologies or information and communication technologies—connected via an intelligent network—to address challenges within city communities and across vertical industries. These challenges may include parking, traffic, transportation, street lighting, water and waste management, safety and security, even the delivery of education and healthcare. A smart city relies on technological solutions that enhance its existing process to better support and optimize the delivery of urban services, to reduce resource consumption and contain costs, and to provide the means and the opportunities to engage actively and effectively with its citizens, with its visitors and with its businesses."

While the definitions may vary, one consistent reality is that the technology in smart cities varies immensely based on the needs of that particular city and the budget allocated for such technologies.

For instance, in San Antonio, streetlights are adjusted in stormy weather to improve visibility and reduce accidents. In Chicago, the city is controlling the rodent population by using predictive analytics to determine which trash dumpsters are most likely to be full and attract more rats. In San Francisco, an app allows smartphone users to find available parking spots in garages throughout the city. The city of Hamburg, Germany, has set a lofty goal of eliminating all cars within its city limits by 2034. Copenhagen has set a target of becoming the first carbon neutral major world capital by 2020.

Traffic, parking and streetlights

One of the most helpful aspects of a smart city is using technology to ease traffic and parking woes. Sensors in the street can be used to determine if a parking spot is empty, and anyone who accesses an app on a smartphone can find out in real time the location of the closest parking spot.

In San Francisco, this option is available within the city's parking garages, and the city is hoping to expand it to monitor open spots on the streets as well, said Nishant Patel, founder and CTO of, and a member of the board of advisors for the city of San Francisco's Connected City initiative. Patel advises the city as it explores IoT use cases defining the next generation of enabling technologies.

Helping drivers find a parking spot more quickly can have a significant impact on traffic patterns. In Barcelona, there are sensors embedded in the city's streets to alert users on where to find open parking spots and traffic has been reduced because there are fewer people circling the block. This naturally helps the environment, because with fewer cars circling the city's streets, there are lower carbon dioxide emissions and less fuel is wasted.

Data shows that 30% of all traffic congestion in cities is the result of drivers looking for a parking space, according to the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.

Cities can increase revenues by more closely monitoring parking, and there are several other conveniences stemming from HD cameras in smart streetlights and parking sensors, said Steve Durbin, managing director of the Information Security Forum in London.

Chicago is one of the leaders in implementing smart city technologies.

"There are sensors in the roads so that you don't need to worry about paying for your parking because the sensors will determine how long you're parking there. Cities will also be able to clear away accidents much more quickly since they won't need to wait for tape measurements. And they can link this information to insurance companies and claims so that they can be processed much more quickly. A lot of those things are seen and perceived as benefits in a smart city environment," Durbin said.

To ease parking troubles by alerting drivers to open parking spots, cities can either embed sensors in the pavement for each individual parking spot, or they can do it via sensors in smart LED streetlights.

Streetlights are a cost-effective way for cities to become smarter, because every city has them and it's inexpensive to add an HD camera to a smart LED streetlight. Data collected from the streetlight can be used for predictive analytics. "The city gets all the technology and sensors in one bundle," GE's Ashe said.

San Diego and Jacksonville, Florida, are two cities with smart LED streetlight pilot programs in place through GE Lighting. "Both pilots are in the downtown areas of the cities, so right in the heart. And there are approximately 50 intelligent LEDs installed in each city, which covers approximately 10 blocks," Ashe said.

"Streetlights sit at a unique elevation in the city at 20-30 feet so it's natural to install HD cameras. These pilots are testing the answer to the question of, 'Instead of installing an LED, why don't you install a smart LED that could do so much more?' A smart LED has sensors embedded into it and connectivity to the industrial internet. With this we can start collecting data that cities never before had and with this data we can start to build applications. Much like you download an app on your Android device or iPhone, they can download an app that helps solve a citizen problem such as parking," Ashe said.

Florida Power & Light—the energy utility in south Florida—is planning the world's largest streetlight deployment of 500,000 smart LED streetlights, with 75,000 already completed, according to Brandon Davito, vice president of smart cities for Silver Spring Networks.

"We've seen the advancement in streetlight control and being able to deliver new types of applications and services is a big change. It's a great launching point into a range of smart city applications," Davito said. "Even for managing the streetlight network, adding cameras and motion detectors is a big step forward."

"We're at the convergence of a number of great trends. The cost of connectivity is dropping dramatically. The ability to put intelligence at the edge is dramatically increasing and citizens are expecting more. They have a tremendous amount of power and access to data [using] the mobile devices at their fingertips," Davito said.

Silver Spring Networks works with San Antonio's utility on a broad smart grid and smart infrastructure project that connects not just the electric meters but streetlights and gas and water meters.

Traffic was a concern in San Antonio, so the city connected its traffic lights together to build efficiency in traffic management and that has already saved hundreds of millions of dollars a year in energy consumption and lost time, said Hugh Miller, chief information and technology officer for the city of San Antonio.

The smart city features can even help in the rain. The first rain in San Antonio, after a long dry spell, can result in an increase of auto accidents because the rain activates oil and other chemicals that have been settling on the roadway. So the city has included a communication module within its LED street lights so that additional lights can be remotely turned on when such a rainstorm occurs, to help with visibility in an attempt to minimize accidents by helping drivers see the road more clearly, Miller said.

Overall, the ability to turn lights up and down as needed, in crime-ridden areas or for other purposes, is one of the benefits of having a smart city grid, he said.

Utilities and services in a smart city

There is also money to be saved with smart city technology.

In Barcelona, the city has experienced a $58 million annual savings using smart water meter technology, according to Cisco.

The city of Songdo, in Incheon, South Korea, is a $35 billion, 1,500-acre private real estate development that has been built from the ground up by Gale International with Cisco as a technology partner. The city has cut energy and water use by 30% compared to what a similarly sized city would use without smart features, and has reduced what operating costs would normally be by regulating electricity and water usage in buildings.

"There are no wires, it's all underground. There are no garbage trucks. All garbage is sent underground through a pneumatic process. In homes, parents can connect to schools and talk to teachers through telepresence," Menon said.

Chicago uses predictive analytics to determine where to place bait for rats, by listing which dumpsters are most likely to be overflowing. The city is now 20% more efficient in controlling rats, said Tom Schenk, chief data officer for the city of Chicago.

Predictive analytics are also being used to dispatch food inspectors to the city's 15,000 restaurants by using variables to predict which businesses are most likely to have code violations. In an 8-week trial of the program, restaurants with code violations were found two weeks faster, on average, than they would have been without predictive analytics, Schenk said.

Chicago is also on the cusp of having 50 sensors in place to alert the proper departments when bridges freeze, and to report the water quality in Lake Michigan. Other city groups are focusing on noise pollution and traffic congestion, said Brenna Berman, Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) commissioner and CIO.

Security and public safety in a smart city

Security is also a component of Chicago's smart city initiative. The city partners closely with the police department in order to bring technology into the field via a mobile command unit to manage large groups of people at outdoor events and intervene if an area becomes too crowded and a riot seems imminent. The mobile command unit is packed with TV monitors that display scenes from multiple angles, with live feeds from HD cameras embedded in the city's LED streetlights. This is part of the city's WindyGrid hub which houses information on many operational data sects into a single operating picture for city response teams to use when responding to an incident.

The court system is eased in San Antonio with its smart city technology. The city encompasses 460 square miles, which makes court-related issues a problem since some citizens have to drive a long distance just to get to the courthouse. Through smart city technology, residents can now use video court monitors at court kiosks throughout the area instead of actually appearing in court in person, said Miller.

Warrants can also be applied for online, which "radically shrinks the duration of time to deal with a public safety issue," Miller said, acknowledging that that could be a plus or a minus depending on which side of the law a resident might be on.

Inside a Chicago Police Command Unit

Getting involved

Of course, the majority of cities around the world are not smart cities. Updating existing technologies to more advanced and more efficient ones will take time. But, in the meantime, individuals and organizations can do their part, by getting engaged and forming civic groups to focus on topics ranging from reviewing city data to gathering developers to create applications for the city.

Another one of Chicago's mobile units for managing IoT services.

Chicago wants to promote smart cities throughout the globe by giving them access to their code via open source. "Every city is facing tight budget times just like the city of Chicago and there's no reason another city couldn't take our restaurant code [for example] and implement it without making the investment that we did. We plan to adopt other open source codes from other cities. There's a collaborative nature between municipalities and governments so we're working on each other's behalf," Berman said.

"The entire code itself is online so other researchers can take a look at this code and take a look at this data," Schenk said. Researchers can then work on the code and improve it, or even use it for their own smart city projects at no additional cost. Schenk said Chicago is also hoping to use open source code from other municipalities.

Journalists and programmers are the most likely candidates to use the data to spur a city to action, as well as entrepreneurs creating hack-a-thons to spur interesting applications for the municipality. And if they create this data and information, the city will likely listen, Schenk said.

No matter how appealing it is to offer new services, keep in mind that what citizens want is key.

"Smart cities are evolving cities, and smartness is relative—part of the requirement to be a smart city is to understand that change will always be necessary—but the intelligence comes in choosing the best tools that support that city's people and keep its culture vibrant and sustainable," Menon said.