First of all, we want to thank all of our Austin Smart City Alliance (ASCA) members, participants, and advocates for their support this year. We are more appreciative than ever, especially in light of the year we’ve all been through. Unfortunately, many of us have been touched by loss during the global pandemic; all of us have had our personal and professional lives significantly impacted by it. We have been reawakened to the serious social injustices that remain in our country, and to the fact that we must be participants in the solutions, not just bystanders, if we are going to be the America that we aspire to. While we have seen stock market successes in certain sectors such as technology and online services, we are experiencing a deep recession in the overall economy, with many sectors having suffered losses, closures, and layoffs. Thus, your support in these challenging, stressful, tragic times has been uplifting and appreciated.
While 2020 was not a good year for cities, ASCA—with your support—had a number of important successes and milestones that have us positioned for a great 2021. In 2020, we formally rebranded from Austin CityUP to Austin Smart City Alliance to be more clearly named for what we are and what we do. We updated our bylaws to make it easier for the City of Austin (CoA) to participate more actively, and then welcomed our first CoA member to the board of directors. We executed two civic priorities workshops which generated successful projects including a technology-enabled online music event that raised money for live musicians in need during this pandemic and a contact tracing report for cities. The most recent civic priorities workshop also had two CoA leaders articulating the growing need for something like our proposed Smart Austin Innovation Lab (SAIL) project in 2021. We also completed a successful project for the Austin and Travis County wildfire prevention efforts and saw or very first project—the Affordable Housing Data Portal—finally enter production use by the City of Austin. We executed a virtual Texas Smart Cities Summit, further building the relationships between Texas largest cities for collaborative efforts in 2021 starting with the new Texas Smart Cities Series of twice-monthly online seminars (a bigger and more formal version of the ‘lunch & learns’ that Austin CityUP started). That Summit also showcased several possible projects and technologies for consideration in Austin and other Texas cities in 2021. Finally, we relaunched the ASCA Data & Architecture Committee, which is already working on the comprehensive architecture we need in 2021 to begin to integrate existing projects in a unified platform and foster new projects. So, while there is no doubt that the pandemic slowed our aggressive plans and efforts, we pushed on, achieved some wonderful successes, and positioned ourselves for an amazing 2021!
We are more excited than ever about the potential of Austin Smart City Alliance to achieve leadership in smart cities planning, projects, practices, and platforms. There is much work ahead to be sure, but we know how to work together effectively and have the foundation efforts underway for the bigger successes to come. We are in the middle of a new election for the ASCA board of directors, and the new board will inherit an organization in 2021 that has the best membership, participants, and potential for impact that our organization has ever had. We look forward to tremendous success—and learning, and fun—in our collaborative efforts in 2021. Have a wonderful holiday season and see you at our first members meeting on January 6!
Jay Boisseau, Ph.D. – Executive Director & Founder
Jessica Sager – Managing Director
Austin Smart City Alliance (formerly Austin CityUP Consortium)
Welcome to the new Austin Smart City Alliance!
The Austin Smart City Alliance (ASCA) has launched, building on the former Austin CityUP (ACUP) Consortium with a new brand and updated objectives, values, and bylaws to enhance its effectiveness as a platform for collaboration and execution. Every part of ACUP was evaluated and revised in order to create an alliance among five key stakeholder groups--government, non-profit organizations, private sector companies, educational institutions, and professional and community associations—as well as interested individuals. ASCA members represent not only Austin but national and global technology companies and organizations.
The launch includes the new website and the ASCA Smart Cities Series, which are twice-monthly online webinars (open to everyone) to present expertise and experiences in smart cities efforts. Additionally, we are excited to ramp up our communications and information sharing with the public through social media channels and launching a new ASCA blog in August 2020. Plans are also underway to hold an online smart cities summit in fall 2020.
Through all of these efforts, ASCA remains focused on advancing the awareness, understanding, development, and applications of smart cities technologies and practices in the communities of the greater Austin metropolitan era, and will increase its collaboration with other smart cities and connected communities programs and initiatives in Texas, across the US, and around the world.
In short, ASCA will communicate better, share more, and provide more thought leadership as its members strive to leverage data, technology, and analytics to make communities and cities better—safe, healthier, more sustainable and equitable, with better opportunities—for all.
Jay Boisseau, Founder
Jessica Sager, Managing Director