Episode Archive

SCP E284 The Intersection of Economic Development, People and Technology, with Jennifer Sanders

Hi #smartcommunity friends! In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I have a wonderful chat with Jennifer Sanders, who you may remember from episode 170 that was released in May of 2020. Jennifer is the Co-Founder and Executive Director at the Dallas Innovation Alliance (DIA), a public-private partnership dedicated to supporting the design and execution of a Smart Cities plan for Dallas. In this episode, Jennifer starts by telling us about her background in communications and change management, her passion for Dallas and her focus to make change locally, before she tells us what a Smart Community means to her. Jennifer then shares with us what she has been working on since we last spoke in 2020 and what changes she has seen in the Smart Communities space since then, before discussing how she collaborates across state and county and some of her learnings from these partnerships. Jennifer then shares with us some of the interesting projects she has been working on, and we discuss the digital divide, and how we can overcome this in our communities. We finish our chat discussing the emerging trends of data privacy and protection policy approaches, and the importance of designing and embedding best practices into processes from the beginning. As always, we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it!

Listen here: 

What we cover in this episode:

  • Jennifer’s background in communications and change management 
  • Her passion for the city of Dallas and her focus to make change locally 
  • What a Smart Community is to Jennifer 
  • What Jennifer has been working on since last we last recorded in 2020 and what changes she has seen in the Smart Communities space 
  • How Jennifer works to collaborate and connect across state and county in a multidisciplinary way
  • Some of her learnings from those cross state and cross country collaborations and partnerships 
  • Some of the interesting projects Jennifer has seen come up since 2020
  • The digital divide and how to overcome this in communities 
  • The emerging trends of best data privacy and protection policy practices, and designing and embedding these practices in processes from the beginning 


“One of the things I’m most passionate about is, how do we figure out who needs to be in the room that maybe, never it occurred to them they would need to be in the same room with some of these other functions or departments or organisations. And then you really see where the magic happens from there.”

“The projects I was really working on deeply in early 2020, were around challenges in communities that had been underserved, underrepresented. And so we were looking at issues of equity, specifically mobility, public safety, and the digital divide.”

“Six of our peers around the country and similar consortiums launched the National Smart Coalition’s Partnership, which is meant to again, how do we connect the dots and the learnings across the country with organisations that have been structured like ours? So that’s been just incredibly exciting to see what the art of the possible is when we all work together, cross state, cross country.”

“If [parents] didn’t realise the resources were there, they couldn’t access them. And that’s something that we learn through the city of Dallas and Dallas Independent School District. [We] came together and did a joint digital equity strategic plan, and some of the research that was done around and these communities in these lowest connected zip codes, how many of them were taking advantage of federal broadband programmes, the emergency broadband benefit being one and less than half have even heard of the programme, less than 5% had enrolled, that were eligible and needed it.”

“If you’re not doing the other half of the work, to get [people] connected right, and have all of these really heavy infrastructure investments, which are spectacular and are generationally changing, but if you don’t look at that flip side of adoption or use, the internet missed the point.”

“I think one of the things that we’re really focused on right now is trying to support Governments in being exceptionally strategic and collaborative in how they spend.”

“I think the privacy conversation and coming to terms with what, and how we set those policies and those commitments to residents, is something that I think is going to continue to not just be top of mind, but really needs to be dug into.”


Episode 170 with Jennifer Sanders

Episode 278 with Emily Yates 

DIA Website 

City of Dallas Website 

National Smart Coalitions Partnership 


Find the full show notes at: www.mysmart.community 

Connect with Jennifer via LinkedIn or Twitter 

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community  

Connect with My Smart Community via LinkedIn or Twitter and watch on YouTube

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Perk Digital


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