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Tampa as a smart city: Local roundtable focuses on how technology will shape our future

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It’s no secret automation is making some jobs obsolete. As the digital revolution evolves, we’re working differently — and some of us will need new skills to stay in the workforce and succeed. “The roles are changing very very very quickly,” asserts Chelsea Collier, an Austin-based consultant holding a Tampa Roundtable April 28 at the University of Tampa’s Lowth Entrepreneurship Center. Collier is the founder of Digi.City, a web platform where she shares what she has learned as a 2016 Zhi-Xing China Eisenhower Fellowship recipient. The roundtable will look at Tampa as a “smart city,” which by Collier’s definition is a municipality that takes an “integrated approach” to delivering services more effectively through technology.

“Smart cities are the ones that apply the right technologies that increase the effectiveness of their cities,” she says. The roundtable is aimed at technology enthusiasts, elected officials, public policy advocates and those interested in how policies are crafted to foster innovation and smart growth. It will be held from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Participants include Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, state Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa; Lucas Lindsey, Co-Founder of Launch Florida; Linda Olson, President of Tampa Bay WaVE; Ned Pope, Former President of Florida NEXT Foundation; and Dr. Rebecca White, Director of UT’s Entrepreneurship Center.

The discussion about Tampa’s smart city efforts is part of a multi-city series, Digi.City Connects. Meetings already have been held in Phoenix, San Diego, Boston and Austin. “In three to four years, things will connect to things and humans won’t even need to be involved. It seems like the Jetsons,” Collier says, referring to the 1960s television cartoon show about a futuristic family. In the end, services are provided more efficiently. For example, when 5G wireless technology is available, a refrigerator can connect with a delivery service to notify it that it needs eggs. It can be programmed to skip the order when the calendar shows the owner will be away.

The discussion is expected to touch on policy changes needed to prepare for the new technology, she says. “You really have to start doing the work now to get the policies in place,” she says. “There’s a lot in play. Different cities handle this in different ways.” The way cities and educators prepare for these changes will affect the workforce’s skillset – and ultimately the area’s economy. Although the fellowship expires in mid-May, Collier says her work has just begun. “I’m going to ramp it up actually,” she says. “I think there’s a real need.

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