Connecting America's digital city : Dr. Jonathan Reichental, Chief Information Officer at reichental
Updated on: 14 Dec 2015
Palo Alto is not your average city. Established by the founder of Stanford University, it was the soil from which Google, Facebook, Pinterest and PayPal (to name a few) have sprung forth. Indeed, Palo Alto has probably done more to transform human life in the last quarter century than any other. So, when we think of how the Internet of Things is going to affect life in the coming decades, we can be reasonably sure where much of expected disruption will originate.
All of which makes Palo Alto a great place to host the firstIoT Data Analytics & Visualizationevent (February 9 – 11, 2016). Additionally fitting: the event is set to be kicked off by Dr. Jonathan Reichental, the city's Chief Information Officer: Reichental is the man entrusted with the hefty task of ensuring the city is as digital, smart and technologically up-to-date as a place should be that has been called home by the likes of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckberg, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Thus far, Reichental's tenure has been a great success. In 2013, Palo Alto was credited with being the number one digital city in the US, and has made the top five year upon year – in fact, it so happens that, following our long and intriguing telephone interview, Reichental is looking forward to a small celebration to mark its latest nationwide ranking.
BCN: Jonathan, you've been Palo Alto's CIO now for four years. What's changed most during that time span?
Dr Jonathan Reichental: I think the first new area of substance would be open government. I recognise open government's been a phenomenon for some time, but over the course of the last four years, it has become a mainstream topic that city and government data should be easily available to the people. That it should be machine readable, and that an API should be made available to anyone that wants the data. That we have a richer democracy by being open and available.
We're still at the beginning however. I have heard that there are approximately 90,000 public agencies in the US alone. And every day and week I hear about a new federal agency or state or city of significance who are saying, 'you can now go to our data portal and you can access freely the data of the city or the public agency. The shift is happening but it's got some way to go.
Has this been a purely technical shift, or have attitudes had to evolve as well?