Innovation and Technology Committee

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What does the committee do: The Committee pursues several tracks. For some meetings, it engages speakers to keep members informed about trends and developments in the technology industry. For instance, at one meeting the Committee heard from venture capital investors who invested in companies at three stages – startup, mid-development and mature.

The committee planned and held in 2014 the first Maryland Innovation Partners Meeting. The Innovation Partners Meeting paired large “purchaser” companies that were in the market for new technologies and services with innovative young companies that might be able to meet those needs. The event was a joint project of the GBC, Howard Tech Council and Tech Council of Maryland (TCM). The premier sponsor for the event was TEDCO. At the first meeting, eight purchaser companies met with 13 innovative young companies. Approximately eight follow up meetings to continue discussions were scheduled.

The Innovation and Technology Committee has been working with TechShop to help bring this company to Baltimore.


  • The Innovation and Technology Committee worked in 2014 as part of a team with the Tech Council of Maryland and the Howard County Tech Council to plan the inaugural Innovation Partners Meeting in June 2014. The meeting matched large purchasing companies with emerging innovative companies, and produced 14 deals between the eight large companies and 13 emerging companies.
  • The committee is also developing a short survey of the GBC member companies to get a sense of which technology issues they see as most important and would like the committee to tackle.
  • A small group of CEOs who have tackled upgrading large technology systems within an institution are serving as advisors to the Baltimore City CIO as he works to improve the City’s technology infrastructure.

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.

2016 Innovation and Technology Committee news:

At its December 7, 2016 meeting, the committee discussed a proposal submitted by Silver Spring Networks for the committee’s smart lighting initiative, its vision and mission statement, current innovation and technology inhibitors in the city and action items to embark on for 2017.

The Innovation and Technology Committee discussed the status of the smart lighting initiative at its September 7, 2016 meeting. Committee Chair Craig Bandes began the discussion by providing a brief recap of the previous meeting and highlighted the vendors who presented at previous meetings for the committee members to review. The committee concluded its meeting by agreeing on a course of action and subsequent path moving forward.

The Innovation and Technology Committee heard from GE representatives and its Current initiative, an energy startup that GE launched to help cities navigate through the development of a smart city, at its May 26, 2016 meeting. GE’s technologies, which can be fitted immediately to LED lights in a pilot project, provides video capture, Wi-Fi and pedestrian tracking in addition to immediate notification when fixtures need repair. This would be a starting point for the pilot project. View the presentations here and here.

At its April 6, 2016 meeting the Innovation and Technology Committee discussed ways to integrate its smart lighting pilot program with a similar proposed model around transit hubs. Following the meeting committee members had a successful conference call with potential partners.

The Innovation and Technology Committee held its second meeting with Silver Spring Networks on February 26, 2016 to explore in depth what the construct of a pilot smart light project would look like, how long the pilot would last, licensing details and cost. The next step for the committee is to meet with BGE which owns some of the poles that would be upgraded. BGE already partners with Silver Spring on other projects.  Silver Spring is an international provider of smart grid networks.

The Innovation and Technology Committee, which met on January 12, 2016, has completed its study of possible vendor partnerships and initiatives that would expand access to broadband in Baltimore and initiate a pilot smart city project. The committee will choose a pilot project by next month and then seek funding and implement the project. The goal is to have a completed project – smart lighting, traffic monitoring, public safety augmentation, transit hubs – within a six month period.