Last month, Rubicon® hosted the inaugural RUBICONSmartCity™ Next Summit, during which we welcomed dozens of Rubicon customers, partners, and industry leaders to New York City to help answer the question “What’s next for your city?”
Over the coming weeks, we will continue to look back at the summit’s sessions to help us chart a meaningful course for what is next for our product and for our partner cities. In the meantime, below are five key takeaways from the event:
Takeaway #1: From Routing to Snow Functionality, RUBICONSmartCity is Doubling Down on New Features
In a session entitled “What’s Next for RUBICONSmartCity,” Rubicon’s Senior Vice President of Smart Cities, Conor Riffle, made several exciting announcements about forthcoming enhancements to Rubicon’s suite of technology products. Conor also explored Rubicon’s acquisition of the routing software and solutions company, CIVIX, which is being integrated into RUBICONSmartCity and RUBICONPro™ to further improve the two products’ routing capabilities.
We had the pleasure of hearing from the Founder and President of CIVIX, who has now joined Rubicon, Paul Patterson. Paul shared his vision for how routing should be structured and how companies like CIVIX and Rubicon can best partner with governments. It was an engaging presentation, in which he discussed the intricacies of route optimization, and the mathematical formulae behind it.
Similarly, Heather Martin of Rubicon delivered updates and announcements regarding Rubicon’s technology, including the introduction of a route template builder, a brand new 311 connector, and the new RUBICONSmartCity feature that supports snow removal. Our northern city partners were particularly excited to learn about this latest feature as they gear up for next winter’s snow season!
Takeaway #2: Resilient Cities are Built Upon a Foundation of Equitable Public Service
I was accompanied on stage by the Honorable Michael Nutter, former Mayor of the City of Philadelphia, who shared his experience in public service, and the strategies that led to his success. Mayor Nutter spoke about the importance of listening to your citizens as a public servant and using that feedback to learn where a city should be focusing its efforts to improve the services it provides. He also credited a large portion of his success to his team for providing a quality stream of ideas and strategies that resulted in 150 different awards for innovation.
Much like RUBICONSmartCity’s vision of a collaborative community in which we can drive smart city innovation, Mayor Nutter recalled borrowing successful ideas from other large cities and tailoring them to work for the City of Philadelphia. This idea—of cities working in partnership with one another and sharing best practices and strategies—is foundational to why we developed the RUBICONSmartCity national pilot partnership program, as well as why we convened the Next Summit.
As noted by Mayor Nutter during our session: “Public service is about the work, it’s about the people. It’s about improving the lives of others and making our communities better.”
Takeaway #3: Garbage Trucks Can be Used to Assess Infrastructure While En Route
In a session moderated by former Mayor of the City of Indianapolis, the Honorable Stephen Goldsmith, we took an in-depth look into how some of America’s largest cities have seen success in using garbage trucks to assess infrastructure.
Michael Shaw, Director of Public Works of the City of Kansas City, Missouri shared the experience he has had in collaborating with Rubicon. Mr. Shaw spoke of how Rubicon’s camera technology helped his trucks identify potholes while on their routes. This information would be relayed back to the City, allowing officials to quickly dispatch street maintenance crews. “The data and the technology used on those trash trucks help immensely in getting that information back so that we can react faster, be more nimble, and be more direct about how we deliver those services,” he noted.
Mr. Shaw was able to use RUBICONSmartCity to successfully create internal leaf and brush routes in his city that were previously subcontracted, resulting in around $500,000 in annual savings. Mr. Shaw credits Rubicon’s technology with making the job of garbage collectors—among the most dangerous in the United States—much safer, and providing employees with new skills by learning to operate this technology.
Similarly, Chris Conway, Director of Public Work of the City of Montgomery, Alabama spoke about using a separate company to determine the condition of asphalt in the city until he discovered this could be done with RUBICONSmartCity. Today, the city’s garbage trucks are equipped with cameras that scan for potholes automatically as they are encountered, with an option for drivers to manually record them where necessary as well.
These are examples of the smart city revolution taking hold where the rubber literally hits the road: pothole detection on the backs of garbage trucks!
Takeaway #4: A City Can Save Tax Dollars and Deliver Better Customer Experience at the Same Time
Later in the day, Mr. Shaw recounted his experience working with Rubicon over the years, including during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At that time, and with all of the uncertainty that came along with it, there was an urgent need to hire new workers to operate trash trucks. The City of Kansas City hired 80-90 new employees, many of whom had not driven or operated garbage trucks before. Rubicon’s technology was able to help train these new workers and make the onboarding process much easier, faster, and smarter.
Mr. Shaw stated that Rubicon was able to help the City reach its goal of being “on time and on task,” and provided measurable end results as well. Overall, the city saw a 17 percent increase in customer satisfaction, with that number reaching as high as 80 percent in specific areas, and created taxpayer savings of over $2 million.
Takeaway #5: Implementing Rubicon in America’s Largest Cities Has Been a Smart Move
Harry Hayes, former Director of the Solid Waste Management Department in the City of Houston, Texas joined us in another session moderated by former Mayor Goldsmith.
Mr. Hayes was in need of a vendor that could keep up with Houston’s demand for quick and efficient waste collection, and decided that Rubicon was the right partner. He specifically highlighted the supply of data provided by RUBICONSmartCity that allowed him access to insights that would optimize waste and recycling operations for employees, management teams, and constituents.
Efficiency was the central theme in the conversation between Hayes and Goldsmith, which is a constant need for city officials across the country, especially those that are growing as quickly as Houston. Hayes stated Rubicon has created efficiency in many areas of its operation, including driver safety and route distribution. As the City of Houston’s Helvia Quinones, GIS Manager, said in a later session, “Rubicon gave us everything without having to have all the sensors, wires, and plugins. It gave us the level of transparency we were looking for.”
It was an incredible experience to watch this event come together, and I hope every attendee enjoyed themselves as much as I did. Our sincere thanks go out to every customer and partner who joined us at the Summit. It meant the world to me and the entire RUBICONSmartCity team to at long last spend time with you in person. I look forward to connecting with all of you again very soon, and at the 2023 Summit, which will be bigger and better!
Michael Allegretti is Chief Strategy Officer at Rubicon. To stay ahead of Rubicon’s announcements of new partnerships and collaborations around the world, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us today.