Episode Archive

SCP E352 Brave Conversations, and Courageous Collaborations in the Smart Community, with Jennifer Sanders

Hi #SmartCommunity friends! In this episode of the Smart Community podcast, I’m excited to have Jennifer Sanders back on the show for the 3rd time! Jennifer was also on the podcast back in Episode 170 and also Episode 284, so make sure you go back and check out those great conversations after you’ve listened to this one. I’m also excited to announce that Jennifer and I will be speaking on a panel together in Barcelona and the Smart Cities Expo World Congress on the 7th November 2023! It’s going to be fantastic. 

In this episode, Jennifer tells us about what she does with the Dallas Innovation Alliance and some of the projects she’s worked on there, including a Digital Inclusion Project and a Drones and Robotics project. We discuss the different ways the Dallas Innovation Alliance collaborates with other groups and how it’s different to a traditional approach, as well as what’s changed in the last 18 months since she was last on the show. Jennifer then shares with us a bit about the Urban Resilience Fellows Program they are working on, which of course has an interdisciplinary focus, and the power of brave conversations and courageous collaborations for solving wicked problems. 

Jennifer and I finish our chat discussing the emerging trend of the fact that now you can find someone talking about almost everything within the Smart Community space, and why we need to lean into multigenerational connections and collaborations as the next step for Smart Communities. As always we hope you enjoyed listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it. 

Listen here: 

What we cover in this episode:

  • Jennifer’s background in consulting and passion for learning 
  • What a Smart Community means to Jennifer
  • What Jennifer does now with the Dallas Innovation Alliance (DIA)
  • How the DIA collaborates and why it’s different to a traditional approach
  • Projects Jennifer has worked on with the DIA, including a Digital Inclusion and a Drones & Robotics project
  • What’s changed in the last 18 months since Jennifer was last on the show
  • About the Urban Resilience Fellows Program and its interdisciplinary focus
  • The emerging trend that these days, you can find someone talking about almost any topic in the Smart Community space
  • Why we need to lean into multigenerational connections and collaborations as the next step for Smart Communities


“A Smart Community to me [means] how are we all aligned toward a common vision, which is improving quality of life, through the use of new tools? From the little kid down the street to the mayor, we want everyone to feel empowered to decide what they want this to be…Are we using new tools to solve old problems that ultimately improve everyone’s access to opportunity?”

“I love when you put a bunch of people in a room and at the beginning of a meeting, they have no idea why they’re all in the same room…and by the time they walk out, they’re going, ‘Okay, I understand why that’s important to what I’m trying to get done.’ And they form these connections, and those points of collaboration that really make everything more efficient, and help us to take those different perspectives together…to come up with new answers and new processes, and really looking from all walks of life, all different perspectives.”

“What’s always interesting to me, is from the different perspectives that are in a room, things that seem really scary. Nobody’s done it [so we can’t do this].. But someone might say, ‘Do you remember when we were struggling with this project 5 or 10 years ago, this is how we structured it, and this doesn’t feel as different as you think it is.”

“Especially in Dallas Fort Worth, people cross county lines every day and they want things to work, so we always knew a regional approach was critical. And so we launched [The Dallas Innovation Alliance], ironically right at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. But really immediately saw how important that function was during times of emergency and now times are just tackling big problems.”

“My first question when we opened was, ’Is there someone in this room you’ve never met before?’, and every person raised their hand and I said, ‘That’s the point! Because we all sit in the same rooms with the same people all the time.’”

“Sometimes it’s just educating people first, before they even realise technology can solve one of their problems. So it’s always fun.”

“We need continued and really frank discussions, particularly in places like Texas, about [climate change]. How are we going to get people out of their cars? How are we going to deal with massive weather events?…And can we have a cohesive conversation on what it will take and what it will look like from the perspective of the banks and the environmentalists and the government?”

“Can we find that common ground knowing that the end goal for different sectors is different? And I know they feel fundamentally opposed in some cases, but I just don’t believe that we can’t find a middle ground.”


Dark Net Diaries podcast https://darknetdiaries.com

Smart City Expo USA https://www.smartcityexpousa.com

Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona

Smart Community Podcast episodes with Chelsea Collier: E23 and E280


Connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn or via www.ntxia.org  or Dallasinnovationalliance.com  

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect with My Smart Community via LinkedIn or Twitter and watch on YouTube
Podcast Production by Perk Digital


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