“It will take new ways of working together.”

Shana Rappaport
Director of Engagement and Correspondent, VERGE® | GreenBiz Group

It’s easy to embrace the spirit of public-private partnership. It’s much harder to put the principles into practice – especially at a scale that will meaningfully overcome what we know are already monumental climate challenges.

But there is a convergence taking place globally, both of technologies and people working across sectors, which bodes well for a bright future in California. We need not look far into the horizon to know that a smarter, better, cleaner, more efficient world is possible – one in which data, in particular, will play a significant role in unlocking massive opportunities for businesses, the environment and society. This world is characterized by connectivity, where billions of sensors will be harnessed to produce valuable information for both public and private sector leaders. Adapting to climate change will mean bolstering the resilience of our communities.

So, what will it take for California’s businesses and governments to align in pursuit of this idealized vision? Among other things, it will require the reconciliation of slow government procurement with fast technology development cycles, and short-term fixes with big-picture thinking. It will also require measuring success beyond quarterly financial statements and election returns to include health, well-being, ecological resilience and other factors. And it will take new ways of working together that are grounded in collaboration and place-based opportunities.

The good news is that those models are emerging. At the city scale, San Jose and Intel created a Smart America partnership to leverage sensor data that will improve everything from traffic flow and urban planning to air quality and safety. At the state level, the California Department of Transportation, UC Berkeley and IBM teamed up to develop intelligent transportation solutions that save time, lives and fuel.

Best practices are budding and bold leadership – from both sides – is what will enable us to achieve much more together than either side could dream of alone.