Session 4: Public Governance of Sustainability: Smart Cities

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How can we get cities to be more helpful by telling us about themselves? “Smart Cities” answer this question by integrating multiple Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and the Internet of Things (IOT) in order to systematize the information needed to manage the assets of urban communities. Smart cities collect (i) real-time, instant, location-based data about a city’s environment, infrastructure, and activity, so that the city may respond immediately as needed, and (ii) time series data over a long period which enable the city to manage long-term trends. In these ways, Smart Cities empower communities to (i) provide better services to citizens, (ii) promote sustainability, and (iii) save money.

Mina Marefat, Urban Designer, Founder and Principal of Design Research, world traveler and expert on the management and design of cities, offers a global perspective on Smart Cities—she particularly likes Paris and Helsinki. Ron Blatman, a former real estate developer and now a documentary filmmaker chronicling the modern American urban experience, provides more of a domestic perspective. As a Community Innovation Manager at US-Ignite, an organization which is a catalyst to an ecosystem of smart cities, Jonathan Beam fosters innovation and encourages experimentation in the design and delivery of smart city services, often by connecting communities with government programs.


Carola Mandelbaum
Executive Director of Smart City Works
Carola is the Executive Director of Smart City Works and Project Director for the Northern Virginia Smart Region Initiative. She a highly effective leader with a strong ability to translate vision and strategy into execution. She has cemented her experience in nonprofit management including establishing strategic partnerships, administration of staff and programs, financial systems, operations, and business development. Read full profile…


Jonathan Beam
Accelerating Smart Cities + Communities @ US Ignite
Jonathan Beam works at US Ignite, a high-tech research nonprofit that helps to accelerate and advance the Smart City Movement. At US Ignite, he serves as the Manager of Community Innovation where he works with a diverse array of partner communities and researchers to foster innovation and encourage experimentation in the design and delivery of smart city services. Read full profile…

Ron Blatman
Executive Producer/Producer for the Saving the City: Remaking the American Metropolis documentary series
Ron Blatman is Executive Producer/Producer for the Saving the City: Remaking the American Metropolis documentary series about making cities better places now in production. To get a sense of the series, visit for preview videos and more. Read full profile…

Mina Marefat
Urban Designer, Design Research
Mina Marefat is principal of Design Research in Washington, focusing on design and innovation. Architect, architectural historian and urban designer, her cities projects included working with the Chief Architect of Historic Monuments in France, the Historic Preservation Office of Washington DC and the City Administrator of Newark, NJ. Read full profile…