Smart Cities are Resilient Cities: Event Takeaways

Following Rubicon’s first webinar (which is still available to stream), the week before last was the busiest week in Rubicon’s virtual events calendar to date, with three major public events over three days, featuring Rubicon® speakers from across the company.

In a series of two blog posts, the first focusing on Rubicon’s work with city governments, and the second focusing on the company’s work with commercial enterprises, Rubicon’s Chief Sustainability Officer, David Rachelson, and I are going to dig into the key takeaways from each of these events.

Key Event Takeaways: City Governments

I’m up first. At the three events in question, Concordia Summit, Shadow Summit, and Climate Week NYC, I focused on the idea that smart cities are resilient cities—and resilient cities prioritize livability, sustainability, and equity above all else.

The overarching message of my presentations and conversations at these three events looked at how this theme of smart cities being resilient cities can be positively impacted by the use of public-private partnerships with technology companies, as private companies can provide city governments with an opportunity to help create greater service equity across the United States, and around the world.

For my Climate Week NYC presentation, I was joined by Assistant to the Director of the Solid Waste Division of Kansas City, Missouri, Michael Shaw. Mr. Shaw oversees the weekly trash and recycling collection for over 160,000 residential locations in the City, as well as bulky collection by appointment, seasonal leaf and brush collection, and more. This accounts for annual totals of 10,000,000 tons of municipal solid waste (MSW), 20,000 tons of recyclables, and 45,000 tons of mulch and compost.

During our conversation, Mr. Shaw spoke about the positive impact that Rubicon’s smart city technology suite is having on Kansas City:

Since we joined with Rubicon, we have seen citizen satisfaction increase in solid waste collection by 17 percent. It’s really helping us to be far more on time and on task and to be far more efficient […] we’ve seen over two million dollars cost savings in delivering those services in just trash collection alone in Kansas City.

During my conversations at Concordia Summit, Shadow Summit, and Climate Week NYC, I also spoke in-depth about the COVID-19 public health emergency, and its impact on frontline workers that make up solid waste divisions across the county—including that of Kansas City. Mr. Shaw again:

When we talk about social distancing and having less people in the workspace, folks are able to check-in utilizing their tablets in their trucks so we don’t have to bring so many people into the building.

At Concordia Summit in particular, I noted that in no public workstream are the challenges of COVID-19 more apparent than in the essential, daily work of sanitation and waste disposal. The pandemic has highlighted the fact that our environment, public health, and city operations are closely connected. And when budgets are tight, technology and data are ever more crucial in uncovering efficiencies and cost savings, and driving operational efficiency, staff safety, and sustainability, ultimately leading to a better quality of life for all.

For my Shadow Summit presentation, I noted that smart city technology is the new normal. Residents are now more engaged with and aware of government technology and data, and they expect their cities to communicate in real-time. I also highlighted a number of ways in which RUBICONSmartCity™ helps the cities and communities in which it is deployed. In my own words, from the event:

Smart cities need smart foundations. Many of the innovations I have covered can be immediately and cost-effectively applied to existing city assets and infrastructure […] but to start, cities need to capture the data to inform these more expensive, long-term infrastructure investments. Digital smart city technologies can provide that roadmap and blaze that trail.

I had a great time virtually attending and presenting at Concordia Summit, Shadow Summit, and Climate Week NYC this year. Here’s to hoping each of these events are able to take place in person next year—and if they do, I look forward to seeing you there.

To sign up for future events from or attended by Rubicon, and to look back on previous events in which we have been in attendance, take a look at Rubicon’s brand new events page.

To learn more about Rubicon’s work transforming the entire category of waste and recycling, be sure to download our inaugural Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report.

If you have any questions about Rubicon’s smart city offering, or you would like to explore the possibility of deploying RUBICONSmartCity in your city, reach out to us any time at smartcities@rubicon.com.


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.

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