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Meet the 17 people tasked with advising Philly on smart city best practices

The group hails from a mix of sectors, including tech, academia and local government. Here's what's on their to-do list.

Philadelphia's Schuylkill River at dusk. ( photo)

The City of Philadelphia just announced the names of the 17 people who will form the SmartCityPHL Advisory Committee, a group tasked with guiding the deployment of innovative solutions that improve tech service delivery for Philly’s residents, businesses and visitors.

The group’s three key areas of action will be to increase cross-departmental and cross-sector partnerships, reduce redundancy in smart city projects and help shape best practices and governance for smart city implementation and growth.

Next week, the group will hold its inaugural meeting alongside its co-chairs: the City’s CIO, Mark Wheeler; and Michael Carroll, the deputy managing director of the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability.

Notably, the group is a diverse mix of players from the tech industry, universities, local government and tech-adjacent nonprofits. Aside from the appointed members, the committee will also include (by virtue of their position) Christine Derenick-Lopez, chief administrative officer and Christine Knapp, director of sustainability.

Here’s the group’s lineup:

  • Kapil Dandekar, associate dean for research and graduate studies at Drexel University
  • Brigitte Daniel, EVP at Wilco Electronic Systems, Inc.
  • Chris Diaz, CEO and cofounder of Serve1
  • Julie Donofrio, managing director at Penn Praxis, University of Pennsylvania
  • Lorelei Gauthier, CSO at Philadelphia FIGHT and member of the Technology Learning Collaborative
  • Derek Green, councilmember at-large at City Council of Philadelphia
  • Prema Gupta, SVP of Navy Yard planning and real estate development at PIDC
  • Erik Johanson, director of innovation at Southern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
  • Alex Khorram, CEO and founder at machineQ, a Comcast company
  • Allison Lassiter, associate professor at Penn Design
  • Emily Schapira, board member and executive director at Philadelphia Energy Authority
  • Kahiga Tiagha, founder and lead partner at The ITEM Ventures
  • Ken Tomlinson, CFO at NextFab

News of the group’s appointment comes two months after the City revealed its SmartCityPHL roadmap, a long-tailed master plan built with backing from the Knight Foundation that will help orient what Philadelphia as a “smart city” looks like.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the members of the Advisory Committee as they bring an incredible depth of knowledge and important perspectives,” Wheeler said in a press release published Tuesday. “It is important that the City has this diverse group of advisors to guide us in implementing the SmartCityPHL Roadmap. The role of the Advisory Committee will be to see that the City is transparent and effective in seeing to it that the SmartCityPHL guiding principles of equity, locally-inspired, innovative, and collaborative are evident in the outcomes of the Roadmap.”

As he formally established the committee via executive order last February, Mayor Jim Kenney touted the SmartCityPHL initiative as a symbol of its “commitment to being an innovative city of the future.”

“They will be tasked with exploring all the ways that smart city [technologies] will allow us to serve our citizens more efficiently and effectively,” Kenney said of the committee.

Companies: City of Philadelphia / NextFab

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