Innovation and Technology Committee

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Chair: Steve Harris, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Dell EMC Federal

Staff: Brian Levine, 410-727-2820

Description: The Innovation and Technology Committee serves as an advocate for programs and policies that support and encourage smart cities, entrepreneurship, innovation and growth in the region’s technology sector. The committee develops and advocates for policies, programs and initiatives that promote and assist Baltimore’s burgeoning technology and start-up communities.

Membership: Membership in the Innovation and Technology Committee is open to all GBC members.


2018 Innovation and Technology Committee news:

The GBC’s Innovation and Technology Committee’s September 11, 2018 meeting featured George Davis, Chief Executive Officer of the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), which provides resources and connections that early stage technology and life sciences companies need to thrive in Maryland.  TEDCO’s mission is to enhance economic development growth through the fostering of an inclusive entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem.

Davis, who took the helm of TEDCO a year ago, said the organization seeks to champion a regional culture where innovation, entrepreneurship and the creation of new businesses will thrive and grow.  TEDCO accomplishes this by assisting promising startup companies and moving innovations from the research lab to the commercial sector to create new ventures, a process known as tech transfer. Additionally, TEDCO utilizes investment pools of capital to help startup and emerging companies, including the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund, Maryland Innovation Initiative, Maryland Venture Fund and a TEDCO pre-seed fund and seed fund.

The GBC’s Innovation and Technology Committee met on January 26, 2018, which featured a dialogue with Frank Johnson, Chief Information Officer and Chief Digital Officer for the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology (MOIT). Johnson told the Committee that MOIT cannot help create technology jobs or implement changes to Baltimore City’s technology infrastructure without input from the community. He said that an improved technology infrastructure fits well with other priorities of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, including improvements to education, quality of life, transparency and public safety.

Johnson, who has been in his current position since September 2017, discussed other MOIT-related challenges that lay ahead, including efforts to boost technology-led economic development.  The City of Baltimore has a great number of assets to create a vibrant innovation economy and jobs, one of the primary goals of Mayor Pugh, Johnson said. In the near future, Johnson said MOIT will announce updates regarding strategic planning efforts. The GBC Information and Technology Committee will continue to partner with Johnson and MOIT on efforts to build Baltimore City’s technology infrastructure and explore ways to create more innovation industry jobs.

2017 Innovation and Technology Committee news:

At the Innovation and Technology Committee’s October 12, 2017 meeting, the committee discussed its smart lighting project, which which has been its focus for more than a year. The project is ongoing. New business included brainstorming how to support Frank Johnson, the new Chief Information Officer and Chief Digital Officer for the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Information Technology. The committee was also interested in learning more about Johnson’s charge to engage with the startup community and local businesses. The meeting concluded with a dialogue about new ideas and focus areas for the committee.

Shonte Eldridge, Chief of the Mayor’s Office of Strategy Transformation (MOST), presented at the Innovation and Technology Committee’s July 18, 2017 meeting. Eldridge offered an overview of MOST, a newly established office that works to better coordinate Mayor Catherine Pugh’s strategy for project implementation throughout Baltimore. Specifically, Eldridge is tasked with supervising information technology-related efforts on behalf of the Mayor. This includes any current and future projects with the Mayor’s Office of CitiStat, which now falls under Eldridge’s purview.

Prior to the committee meeting, Eldridge met with members of the committee’s Smart City Subcommittee for an in-depth discussion about the GBC’s Smart City Architecture Plan (SCAP) and how the committee can lend its collective expertise to recommend policies and best practices that will make technology more efficient throughout the city.

MOST is currently engaged in a full inventory of the city’s hardware, software and technology assets which will be provided to the committee for SCAP.

The Innovation and Technology, Economic Development and Transportation and Mobility committees met jointly May 30, 2017 and heard from Bill Cole, President and CEO of the Baltimore Development Corporation, and Jim Smith, Chief of Strategic Alliances for the City of Baltimore, during a panel discussion on Baltimore’s economic future. Cole and Smith gave presentations and answered questions highlighting some of the challenges, assets and opportunities within the city’s economic development landscape.

While it can be challenging to connect workers to employment centers, the city is actively pursuing measures to build neighborhood commercial centers, implement shuttles to complement MTA service and realize a complete streets and multimodal vision for transportation in the long-term. The Baltimore market is growing with some of its largest development projects being completed in downtown Baltimore and in neighborhoods throughout the city. However, many opportunities exist to continue developing the city lead by a host of incentives, a BDC loan fund, efforts to attract new business, expanding fiber optic broadband access to the entire city and on-boarding top leaders to lead the City’s technology and transportation needs.

Innovation and Technology Committee Co-Chair Steve Harris briefed the committee at its April 18, 2017 meeting about his recent meeting with Jim Smith, Chief of Strategic Alliances for Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh.

During the meeting, Harris learned the Pugh Administration is exploring the creation of a Transformation Team to look into the city’s information technology (IT) sector. The team’s main focus will be a potential driving force towards reversing IT issues across Baltimore City’s landscape. Some issues include: IT silos created by different city agencies due to a lack of shared services in the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology; high costs; cybersecurity issues; and filling the vacant City Chief Information Officer (CIO) position. The combined knowledge and experience of Innovation and Technology Committee members can be a valuable resource for the team in achieving those goals.

Anne Froble, Business Development Manager for Cisco, presented to the Innovation and Technology Committee on March 21, 2017 about Cisco’s Smart Connected+Communities/City Digitization initiative. Froble reviewed the successes and pitfalls cities have traditionally encountered with regards to smart city implementations, how smart cities actively address city challenges and the solutions offered by Cisco’s platform. She also discussed how other cities across the globe have implemented smart technology into everyday life.

The committee then heard from the newly formed Smart City subcommittee about the status of the smart city architecture plan for Baltimore City. The plan, which is still in the drafting stage, listed a vision and mission statement for Baltimore Smart City initiative, key stakeholders and beneficiary groups and an illustrated proof concept of how the proposed elements would mesh together.

Steve Harris, Co-Chair of the Innovation and Technology Committee, began the February 21, 2017 meeting by asking committee members if they would participate in a Smart City Architecture plan for Baltimore City. The idea for the architecture is the result of interviews with executive-level information technology (IT) experts within the city prior to the committee’s February meeting.

The Smart City architecture aims to serve as a master plan for the city that includes an inventory of projects currently being implemented by the Mayor’s office and map the current IT infrastructure of the city. This will coordinate many of silo or separate projects which cost the city more money to implement individually. The committee agreed to the plan.

A Smart City subcommittee was formed in an effort to expedite the planning process and will be tasked with defining a mission statement and creating a document outlining all aspects of the backbone infrastructure for broadband. Bernie McVey and Jill Sorensen volunteered to chair the subcommittee.

At its January 10, 2017 meeting, the Innovation and Technology Committee discussed previous efforts to consider a smart lighting pilot project in Baltimore and potential locations for a new pilot project. Additional dialogue focused on supplementary options for a pilot project, including additions that evolve the project from smart light to smart cities (an urban development vision integrating multiple technology solutions to manage a city’s assets). A smart cities pilot project could include technology to accompany smart lighting, including security technology and Wi-Fi capabilities.

The committee then engaged in preliminary discussions regarding ideas where the committee can make a difference. Committee members were asked to further engage their colleagues and peers to learn what the entrepreneurial innovation community needs to be successful. These discussions will be ongoing in the early portion of 2017 with an action plan or measurable efforts to follow.