Boss Jason Yeh on “The Future of the Consumer Internet.”

At the “smart” bus stop, I press a button and an AI quickly triangulates the incoming Metro Los Angeles GIS (Geographic Information System) data before reading out the synthesized voice wait times. When the bus arrives, I hop on, plug my charger into the USB port (under the seat) and use my Tap card to pay the fare and reserve a seat. Thanks to the bus’ constant WiFi signal en route, I grab the latest technology report from the Harvard Business Review, courtesy of the LA Public Library, and start taking notes.

Twenty minutes later and I was the first to enter my workplace. As soon as I swipe my access card, the centralized system detects a change in the motion sensor network. It then turns on the lights, ambient music, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and AC), ensuring the building remains energy-efficient and codes when it’s unoccupied.


2028 Plan

In December 2020, when the SmartLA 2028 city plan was released by (now former) Mayor Garcetti’s office, such a scenario seemed far off.

But the document has it all: a plan to transform LA from a reliance on fossil fuels and cars to a data-driven connected city that bridges the digital divide and ushers in new ideas, including telehealth, clean tech and the transition to mass transit.

When we started working on this plan in 2019, no one knew that a global pandemic was on the way. This pandemic should have thrown everyone into a digital-ready future sooner than (everyone) expected. But here we are.

“Throughout the crisis, digital tools have emerged as a critical lifeline for our community,” the SmartLA 2028 city plan states. “The scale and speed of contactless essential services, accelerated medical solutions, artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted policy-making, social media protest coordination, real-time public engagement, and innovation.”

LA and the future of everything

Let’s go back for a moment to the 1950s, when LA was first born looked Like the Future for the rest of the world.

Post-war industries were developing here. The Federal Highway Act (1956) started the highway system and cars poured into the manufacturing areas. Cold War NASA missions heralded the aerospace boom. The Case Study House Program showcased prefabricated components and modern appliances. Bold sci-fi-style buildings such as The Chemosphere House (1960) and LAX’s Theme Building (1961) took shape on the landscape. LA County’s population tripled by 1940 (2.7 million) and exceeded 6 million by 1960.

In 2023, our population is now north of 10 million, and as a result, this new LA Future plan is less appearancesand more about the capable cloud-based hyper-connectivity that enables a vast network of cutting-edge technologies aimed at making this city sustainable, livable and equitable for all.

We certainly have Great Tech from the North on our doorstep. FAANG companies (Facebook, Apple, etc.) have carved out nearly 6 million square feet of space on the west side of LA alone, and have clearly contributed greatly to our economy. But a fairer LA will depend on fewer unicorns (startups worth $1 billion before going public) and more on a holistic approach to innovation based on need, leveraging the best resources of academic institutions, revamping local government departments as a whole, and more. aligning both the venture capital community and its well-funded startups with real-world demands.

Along those lines, Mickey Reynolds, CEO and co-founder of LA tech hub Grid110, wants to ensure that the spirit of equality is passed on to LA’s startups.

“LA’s startup scene is so much more than just Venice and Santa Monica,” says Reynolds, who prefers the urban scene and eventually founded Grid110 in DTLA. “Since our founding, we’ve backed 250 companies that have raised more than $90 million in investment capital. But I’m even more proud that 70% of our portfolio companies have female founders and 75% are founders of color. LA is an incredibly rich and diverse city—we we need to reflect that in our evolving technology.”

A happy sign is that many LA tech companies have joined PledgeLA, an industry-wide initiative to hold the tech sector accountable to their communities, set goals around diversity and social impact, and celebrate their progress.


Technology for Good

So how will LA ensure that its tech-driven future delivers value for all? The SmartLA 2028 city plan set some bold goals with measurable results, including a 10% reduction in travel time by using data from 40,000 turn detectors across 4,500 closed intersections and $3 million in annual savings by converting and connecting more than 165,000 street lamps to LEDs. dashboard to facilitate maintenance and track outages.

The MyLA311 site and mobile app gives Angelenos a simple interface to city services. It is relatively unsophisticated in terms of UX (user experience) and design, but it works because it was created with fairness in mind so that everyone can use it. Whether you need to report a pothole, a public safety issue, schedule a bulky item pickup, or find the nearest city hall or park, it’s all there—and our diverse communities in English, Spanish, Korean, Armenian, and Chinese (simplified and traditional). reflects.

MyLA311 would not be possible without the Los Angeles Open Data project. It is the result of more than 7 years of collecting, standardizing, centralizing and then analyzing city data from almost every department – ​​transportation, sanitation, public safety (crime statistics), housing, infrastructure and health (mainly COVID-19). transmission data).

The primary function of Los Angeles Open Data is to provide data and analysis support to city programs that aim to realize high-value community outcomes by making policy recommendations. Simply put, if you don’t know where you’re starting (the bottom line), how will you know if the program is successful?

But it is also completely open and publicly accountable. As a result, Angelenos can now learn more about the hyperlocal data sets that make sense to them. For example, one team culled information about Black-owned businesses in LA and created a “story map” where people can choose to spend money in their community and support the causes that mean the most to them.

The data also reinforces ideas emerging from the Innovation and Performance Commission (IPC), an open forum for city staff to propose pilot projects that could receive allocations from the $1 million fund. According to the SmartLA 2028 report, “Since its inception in 2016, more than 40 projects have been funded, including a mobile nursing unit that reduces emergency room visits, an employee payroll program that reduces paper and labor resources, and 3D printers for rapid prototyping. public works projects”.

Connection Login

All these initiatives are vital to the management of a ‘smart city’ – but what good is it if a significant proportion of the population does not have access to digital connectivity?

This situation has been exacerbated by the pandemic, and many agencies have stepped up to bridge the digital divide, including Get Connected Los Angeles, where the city partnered with the California Emerging Technology Fund and EveryoneOn to help Angelenos have access to computers, digital literary services, and low prices. cooperated. – expensive internet connection.

The Los Angeles County Library has expanded Wi-Fi service to more than 60 of its local branch parking structures so local residents can “park and plug in” (or “sit and plug in” in a nearby outdoor seat) to catch up on email, do homework or move. conducts job searches. The Los Angeles Public Library introduced Tech2go Hotspot Credit to library cardholders in good standing and retrained staff to act as “cybernauts” and offer tech assistance.

Imagining the Future

With all these tech-future fair concepts, what will LA do? see Like the world is on our doorstep for the Olympics in 2028?

At first glance – and that’s not a bad thing – it might not look that different, as according to the official Games Plan, no new construction/locations will be built. We have enough facilities to host the games. The blueprint for sustainability and creative adaptive reuse is clear in this regard.

But what will happen absolutely revolutionary is a technology-based infrastructure that allows everyone to get around, stay connected, learn about what’s going on, and enjoy sports and cultural events. When 15,000 athletes arrive at LAX, they will take an automated people mover to the Metro and arrive at the Olympic Village (UCLA) in no time. With the smart city layer in place, anything is possible—augmented reality glasses overlaying sports scores in real-time, holograms of athletes participating in community-led training sessions, multilingual robots acting as guides and ticket scanning at turnstiles.

It all starts with data — and LA is already way ahead of the game on that score.

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