In case you missed it, City of the Future is Zpryme’s smart city and smart infrastructure conference that was held (for the first time ever!) in D.C. at George Washington University (GWU) in January! We had a phenomenal lineup of speakers and shared impactful information on what it means to create and maintain smart cities throughout the world.

One of the first sessions was an engaging Fireside Chat with self-proclaimed “recovering journalist,” Frank Sesno, former CNN White House Correspondent and Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at GWU. In it, Zpryme’s VP of Content and Strategic Partnerships, Erin Autin, asked Sesno about compelling storytelling and communication in the age of smart cities.

When asked, Sesno said, “Reinvention is the story of the smart city. Whether it’s a new piece of technology….where and how are people going to live, where and how are people going to work… How are we going to rethink that?” 

Between climate change, population increases, and mass urbanization, cities are hard pressed to keep up. And while new technologies and new models of business and governance can help us overcome some of these challenges, the real secret to success is connecting with people.

In order to achieve the goals of climate action, smart cities, etc. we’re going to have to reimagine engaging with people. One way that Sesno has attempted to do just that is to launch his Planet Forward platform to connect students and share stories about what’s happening in the world and in technology. 

But more than that, Sesno asked, “How do you change public policy when the public is so easily hijacked [by social media]?” Fantastic question. Anyone working in public service and policy knows it’s a tough battle right now between properly communicating and informing the public and being engaged with them as trends and misinformation shift focus. 

It’s impossible to have all of the answers right now, but there are many wonderful people of all ages getting involved and working together to share impactful information on how to improve quality of life, new technologies, climate action, and more. We just need to pull up a chair and listen.