Global Goals: Transformation Through Smart Communities Can Change the World

Last week was a busy week in Washington, DC and across the nation with hundreds of events underway highlighting the opportunity to rebuild infrastructure and do so with intelligent connectivity as a key factor.

At an event in the capital on May 14, sponsored by the Infrastructure Week non-profit organization, which supports and is supported by  the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO, Business Roundtable, ASCE, Value of Water Campaign, Metropolitan Policy Program and the National Association of Manufacturers and Smart City Works, an accelerator focused on smart infrastructure solutions, many which are powered by the IoT, Don DeLoach, founder and CEO of Rocket Wagon Venture Studios spoke with Chris Rezendes,  Chief Business Officer, Context Labs & Spherical Analytics about a higher purpose, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

DeLoach and Rezendes shared a look at the current state of IoT systems and solutions to provide a background for understanding the challenges and risks of the future.

“Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties – it is a toughness, a grit,” DeLoach said.

Table stakes for successful IoT deployments, he said, include stability, security, agility and scalability.

“We’re seeing a growing acceptance of IoT as an enabler of business growth, even as IT teams continue their transition from cost centers to business value creators,” DeLoach said. “But lack of standards from architectural, to technical to governance today are important roadblocks to tackle, as is the evolving definition of what it means to be secure and who should make that investment.”

As we see changes in investing including growth in Impact Investing that looks beyond GAAP accounting as the single view of organizational success, DeLoach sees that metrics are going beyond financial and operational impact to include social impact – including how large enterprises and governments can leverage connected systems to incorporate and measure impact beyond the balance sheet.

“Hyper-concentration of resources breeds instability”, said DeLoach. “Hyper-concentration of wealth, hyper-concentration of energy, and certainly, as we progress to the cyber-physical world, hyper-concentration of data. If in 10 years we have 1000 times the data we have now, the danger of having that data concentrated into an oligarch of a small number of organizations can have extreme ramifications”.

After taking the audience through examples of how the UN’s SDGs apply to the evolution of connected communities, Rezendes talked about investment communities’ increasing urgency on climate resilience in a number of carbon-intensive industries, including oil and gas.

He shared how his company, Spherical|Analytics, is integrating IoT sensor data and other data sources into a trust platform that delivers asset-class data and investment-grade analytics to decision makers of all types.

“Energy security versus water security has DIRECT implications on food security for its impact on BOTH groundwater supply and soil conditions,” Rezendes pointed out, saying “energy security versus climate security has direct implications on population health. In both cases, these risks accrue to decreased national security.”

Rezendes suggested that successful “resilient infrastructure will be distributed and decentralized, privately funded, and edge-enabled, which can spur regenerative strategies, financial inclusion, fair housing & more.”

He said, “better data enables better risk management, but what makes the real difference is intent and approach.”

“From the outset, if our intent is to build resilience into existing and new systems, businesses and communities, then we should specify and commit to the tools, methods, approaches that recognize, reward and reinforce resilience. Resilience is the killer app.”

“Convenience is a feature,” Rezendes summarized. “Profit is a tool. Resilience is the killer app. When we design both our cyber and physical systems for resilience we can truly transform lives and the future.”


Original published in The Smart City by Shrey Fadia on May 20, 2019 and can be seen at