D.C. CTO: Impact must drive innovation

As the nation’s capital embraces more smart city technology, Archana Vemulapalli said D.C. must focus on how it can best help its residents.

Government needs to focus on making an impact on the lives of residents rather than justinnovatingfor the sake of it, saidthe chief technology officer for Washington, D.C.

The reason we focus on innovation and being creative is also to drive impact, tech chiefArchana Vemulapallitold StateScoop TV inan interview at the National Association of State Technology Directors annual conference in her home city. You cannot be creative and you cannot say your solution is creative if its not delivering impact.

For example, Vemulapalli said the city would not be able to justify investing in a new technological innovation if that product only helped a handful of residents.

I cant say, Oh, I have this great amazing sensor network that Im building out for the city, and then there only be 10 people that will benefit from it, Vemulapalli said. The value has to be there.

Vemulapalli and her team use that approach with SmarterDC an interagency effort to researchnewsmart city technologies the District could use. As a part of SmarterDC, the Office of the Chief Technology Officer has convened a series of demo days where vendorsshowcase their products, and agenciesdetermine whetherthat technology might be useful.

SmarterDC”is about what technologies, capabilities and toolsets do we really need to help achieve the vision of the next generation D.C., Vemulapalli said. It could be technical, or even nontechnical, but what are the big challenges we want to surmount and achieve and can technology help get there?

The SmarterDC and impact-driven efforts build on Vemulapallis earlier attempts to focus on changing the way D.C.s technology workforce culture is structured, she said.

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