‘Cities Today Institute’ Launches to Connect World’s Smart City Leaders

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Hosts Include New Orleans CIO Kim LaGrue, London’s CDO Theo Blackwell and Bob Bennett, Former Kansas City CIO; 100 City Executives to Participate in Inaugural Conferences

Cities Today has just announced the launch of the Cities Today Institute (CTI), the first global network for Chief Information and Technology Officers in local government.

“This is the first global training program for urban innovation leaders," says Bas Boorsma, managing director of the Cities Today Institute.

Cities Today has announced the launch of the Cities Today Institute (CTI), the first global network for Chief Information and Technology Officers in local government. Designed to help city leaders implement Smart City technologies, over 100 government officers are expected to attend CTI launch events in Chicago, Amsterdam, Vienna and Vancouver over the next eight weeks.

The CTI’s mission is to assist city leaders as they design and implement Smart City policies, strategies and projects by providing training and leadership forums, peer-to-peer mentoring, research and funding partnerships. Topics to be addressed during the 2019 Forums include engaging citizens, addressing digital divides, safeguarding privacy and digital rights and more.

“CTI is a one-stop shop, where community leaders tasked with implementing innovation such as CIOs, Smart City Directors or Directors of Transport, have a dedicated institute which will respond to their collective needs through networking meetings and a shared resources library,” says Bob Bennett, chair of the Cities Today Institute and former CIO for Kansas City, Mo. “The CTI can also respond to individual challenges through mentoring and training by a faculty of peers and professionals.”

CTI is being launched at the Cities Today Leadership Forum taking place in Chicago this week, hosted by Carleton Nolan, Chicago’s acting CIO and Michael Pegues, Aurora’s CIO. It was formed after consultations with over 170 cities, which have come together at roundtable meetings held in North America, Latin America and Europe over the last four years.

“This is the first global training program for urban innovation leaders, and what makes it unique is that we are combining academic excellence with experienced practitioners who have actually led urban innovation strategies within city governments,” says Bas Boorsma, managing director of the Cities Today Institute.

The first regional president for the North American network is Kimberly LaGrue, chief information officer of New Orleans. The President for Europe is Theo Blackwell, chief digital officer for London.

“The Cities Today leadership forums helped to define my role in growing our city’s vision of inclusive and equitable innovation, ensuring that all people can access city services, cutting-edge technology and economic opportunity,” says LaGrue, now the North American president of CTI. “I look forward to working with city leaders and the Cities Today Institute to develop this platform, elevating the challenges of urban innovation and creating effective solutions for everyone’s benefit.”

Membership of the institute is open to senior officials globally. While Leadership Forums will continue in North America and Europe, there will be training classes for Asia-Pacific and Africa with Nairobi and Jakarta hosting week-long academies on urban innovation in June 2020 and December 2020.

The Institute’s European launch will take place during the City Leadership Forum in Amsterdam on Sept. 25-26, where cities will be hosted by Ger Baron, chief technology officer for the Amsterdam City Government.

“The Cities Today Institute provides an exciting opportunity to collaborate across borders, sharing our knowledge about the evolving role digital infrastructure, emerging technology, AI and data sharing will play in citizens’ lives,” says Blackwell, now CTI’s European president. “Here in London, everything we do starts and ends with the citizen. Our reboot of what it means to be a smart city builds on our history of open data, but now sets new missions to enhance citizen-led design, data ethics, infrastructure, skills and collaboration.”

About Cities Today:
Cities Today has been connecting urban leaders since 2010 when the publication was launched at the World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders in Mexico City. The publication was launched in front of 2,000 mayors and officials in partnership with United Cities and Local Governments, the largest city association in the world. Cities Today works with ICLEI, EUROCITIES, US Conference of Mayors, C40 and other city associations globally.

The Cities Today Institute was launched after consultations and feedback at 19 roundtable meetings held in North America, South America and Europe over the last four years. There are no fees for membership of the institute, which relies on sponsorship and training fees to support the institute’s activities. Cities must apply for membership and sign the membership charter. A dedicated members’ website and the knowledge hub will be launched after the closure of the first round of membership registrations in November 2019.

Membership for transport and mobility officials will open on Oct. 1, 2019. For more information visit: http://www.cities-institute.com.

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Christina Forrest
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