Cyber Talk Radio: San Antonio’s Smart City Initiatives

Bret Piatt, CTR Host, Craig Hopkins, City of San Antonio CIO, and Brian Dillard, City of San Antonio Smart City Administrator - Episode 114 of Cyber Talk Radio

This past Sunday, December 1, episode 114 of Cyber Talk Radio hit the air on 1200 WOAI and iHeartRadio streaming. I was joined by Craig Hopkins, City of San Antonio CIO, and Brian Dillard, City of San Antonio Smart City Administrator, to discuss San Antonio's upcoming Smart Summit, civic challenges around the city and community engagement.

Coming up on December 12th, the City of San Antonio (COSA) will host a Smart Summit. This event is a culmination of a year's worth of work by many folks around the city. The intent of hosting the Smart Summit is to gather insights and information from vendors and solution providers as well as learn more about some of the civic challenges in San Antonio. As many of you know, there is a lot more to city government than improving roads! What are some of the critical issues and challenges that the city is looking to solve for? There are three focus areas including (1) access to services, (2) mobility and helping people get around the city, (3) and sustainability (public safety and air quality). Did you know that San Antonio’s 311 service now has an app? The app can definitely help make reporting issues easier for those that have Internet access, however, it’s not just about technology. One of the main goals of civic engagement is driving better participation. All of the hard work going on right now will help in the long run. The city is projected to have a million more residents by 2040!

The City of San Antonio is leading up a Smart City Initiative, SmartSA, with innovation zones (Brooks, Downtown and Medical Center) to test out how new innovative technologies can address civic challenges. The SmartSA team wants to learn and gather information from customers in those innovation zones before rolling out new technologies across the entire city. Another key aspect of Smart SA is to focus on implementing resolutions to problems that citizens are having not just implementing cool innovations that were implemented in other city’s. This makes the initiatives hyperlocal and specific to the needs of San Antonio and its citizens. One great example is the digital kiosks that have been installed Downtown. The kiosks have multiple purposes such as being a resource for homeless people to find social services available to them as well as being a guide for tourists visiting for a conference or vacation. They even have selfie cams and arcades on them! How long does it take to get something like the digital kiosks implemented in the city from the ideation phase? Well, you will have to listen to the replay to find out.

In the second half of the show, we chat through Craig’s career experiences and how being in IT in the public sector differs from the private sector. Prior to his role as CIO for COSA, Craig worked at USAA, which he feels really prepared him for his current role. The CIO of COSA wears multiple hats including strategy, customer service, IT and more. Craig is focused on creating a culture of innovation with the city’s employees. In the public sector, citizens have paid a fee (taxes) and expect a certain level of product. For the city, it is essential to understand what customers (citizens) want and need. From a talent and skills perspective, it’s a challenge to grow and retain talent in San Antonio. Tech talent is a even smaller pool that is more competitive. COSA’s partnership with CivTechSA has been a great way to engage the community and local businesses to help solve civic challenges. One great example of a CivTechSA company is ReckonPoint. We recently had Gabe Garza, CEO of ReckonPoint, on the show to talk about the cool work they are doing to develop indoor mapping for the San Antonio airport. Craig also highlights SA Works' internship program that many businesses and the city participated in last summer to engage students at the high school level. This is one of the crucial ways that we can help educate and increase a talent pipeline in San Antonio. How do we get the community involved in the Smart City initiatives? The program in San Antonio has been very collaborative but always looking to increase engagement. Last but certainly not least, as the city incorporates the Internet of Things (IoT) within Smart City programs, data security needs to remain top of mind and priority. As COSA brings more vendor solutions to the table, the city is responsible for maintaining the security of data being processed with the new smart initiatives. Listen to the full episode replay to learn more about the City of San Antonio’s Smart City initiatives.

Upcoming episode – Saturday nights from 11:00 p.m. to Midnight -

Listen to a replay of this episode or past episodes on a Cyber Talk Radio Podcast stream. Replays are available via the below podcast services:

Recent episodes – available to stream from our YouTube channel -

*How Virtual Reality is Changing the World of Training
*Assessing Small Business Cyber Risk
*Cybersecurity San Antonio
*Ghostwire Academy: IT & Cybersecurity Training Program
*Entrepreneurship in San Antonio with Dirk Elmendorf of Brokerage Engine
*San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology (SAMSAT)

Have an idea for a topic or want to be a guest?

Contact Cyber Talk Radio via our request a topic or be a guest form.

Protect Your Business Data

We are passionate about helping our customers protect their data. We want you to use Jungle Disk to protect yours. Click on Sign Up to get started. It takes less than 5 minutes!

Sign Up