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Jennifer Schmitz on smart cities

Jennifer Schmitz

Managing Director, Lattice Industries 

Q: Your thinking on Smart Cities is very interesting, particularly in terms of how you think about data - the value of data, and how it should be commercialized. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Providing an open, fair marketplace for data stakeholders to exchange/purchase that data is the key to commercialization. The solution to the commercialization of smart city data, lies in approaching data as we did with other commodities in previous centuries. The creation of a regional data exchange (a “data” commodity exchange) provides a platform that reduces all stakeholder burdens. There is so much data, and increasing every moment, that there is a need now, just like other commodities, to build a centralized, self-regulated common marketplace platform where members can benefit from economies of scale pricing and quick access to data network information. At Lattice, we also believe there is a definite need for a controlled environment for liability and legal burden – the biggest issues data faces today. We know that third-parties to an exchange can be registered subscriber. As such, they have a centralized place to go for information related to the exchange of this data, the open data information on the city, adjunct services (such as BI and AI), etc. 

 The city or region can benefit as the sponsor-member and receive priority dividends from net revenue achieved through clearing and settlement fees. And if created via a public-private partnership, the infrastructure can be financed through a myriad of ways while still maintaining the ability for public oversight in the form of governing board appointments. Imagine the amount of government budget that can be freed up for value added activities if we remove the infrastructure burden. The same goes for all member stakeholders, so big stakeholders working together to form the exchange and the exchange network is the key.  

Q: You have had a very interesting career - what experiences from your work with Visa and others brings you to this point? I find that people with interesting and diverse backgrounds often come up with 'obvious' solutions that others miss.

Our patented data exchange solutions all stem from my team’s diverse background in both technology and coalition-building required for multi-sided platforms that allow exchange of goods/services/money/etc. My career started as a floor trader and broker on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and then the Chicago Board of Options. As one of only a few female floor traders, I knew I needed an advantage to excel in a male-dominated industry, so I embraced technology back in the mid-90’s instead of fighting it, which ultimately led me to migrate to California to get my MBA.

After graduation I went to work in Visa’s interchange strategy group where I would meet my partners in Lattice. It was our job to effectively determine the operating costs of stakeholders, to showcase the benefits of collaborating and using a global payment network for all stakeholders, specifically in areas of global interoperability and risk management. In other words, it was our job to price out the cost of the global platform and provide avenues for stakeholders to monetize their information to great scalability and greater ROI for all network users. Our deep experience in monetizing data, optimizing efficient networks, creating collaboration amongst stakeholders and using policy to manage critical issues started well before the EIII standards and the California Privacy law. For decades, we have been at the forefront of the creation of policy and innovation that helped confront fraud and financial terrorism. And from those experiences, we be truly believe that the only path to the greatest solutions of our time, must be through collaboration.

Our patented processes and pricing mechanisms help regional jurisdictions lay that foundation for a standardized, open marketplace built on self-governance and balanced policy. And we know people are at the core of the future of big data, we believe eople must benefit from its success, or they will be the root cause of its demise. This is why our corporate motto is “Data by the People, For the People”.

Q: When you think of Smart Cities what really comes to mind? Is there a killer app? Or are we talking about more prosaic things, like smart lighting?

When I think of a smart city, I think of what makes a person smart – lots of people say they are smart, but we all know not everyone is ‘smart’. Smart people understand that their actions have consequences, which, in turn, lead to results. A few smart sensors doesn’t make any city ‘smart’. Consistently making smart decisions takes discipline, focus, and collaboration. It’s that cognitive ability to learn from multiple inputs that is key to becoming smart. Its gathering and formulating the optimal amount of data (from our own networks and others) that allows a city, like a human, to be predictive in their next move. This is what it means to be truly ‘smart‘.

Killer apps rely on the underlying technology, and it is that technology that drives them to ubiquity. The killer app for business was the spreadsheet. It’s what generated the “a-ha” moments. Killer apps are built upon data, and the more the merrier. But until we have these data in centralized, accessible places, we have a chicken and egg problem. This is why data exchanges offer such a place for entrepreneurs and data scientists to generate the “a-ha’s” off of smart sensor and hopefully other data from members. The first step is the investment in the fundamental technology and platform. The killer apps will arise from these data being used in new and novel ways to solve problems – some of which are as prosaic as lighting.

Q:In large measure Smart City technology will come into its own when 5G is available, right? What do you see as the timeline for the implementation of 5G? Who is ahead?

It depends on where a city wants to go and how fast they want to get there. 5g and 5G LTE are certainly enabling from a speed perspective. However regardless of the choice of spectrum technology, they key is to build a scalable and interoperable platform to facilitate the creation of future standards for all stakeholders to benefit in the long run. 5G today, but the core must be flexible enough to integrate older technologies and them conform while simultaneously creating a platform that invites innovation that will optimize the whole spectrum and other data sources in the future.

Q: We tend to see Smart Cities and AI in the same light - but we also worry that AI is not something that we can shape, rather its something that will shape us. What is your take? Is there a useful book or article that sheds light on what is a critical issue for our future, and the future of infrastructure?

Smart cities is just as much about rules -based algorithms and business intelligence as they are about true artificial intelligence. I would be start with the “best of” list from Irina Raicu at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. Finally a must read book is Platform Revolution by Geoff Parker, Marshall W. Van Alstyne, and Sangeet Paul Choudary – all of whom are the established thought leaders who show the importance of platforms to AI.

Jennifer Schmitz is the managing partner of Lattice Industries, a strategic consulting subsidiary of Urban Concepts, LLC, headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware. With over 25 years of global risk management and strategic revenue planning experience, she has a proven track record of optimizing some of the largest data networks in the world and educating institutions on how to monetize their data. Jennifer started her financial specialist career as one of only a handful of female floor traders at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 1995, at twenty-two years old. As a member of the Chicago Board of Options, she was the designated primary market-maker for some of the largest global infrastructure, defense and technology companies such as Fluor Corporation, Raytheon Corporation and Maxim Integrated Products. Jennifer holds a BA in International Studies from DePaul University, an MBA from Mills College, and completed graduate work at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California.  

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