Phil Weiser
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

Technology and all the impacts, challenges and opportunities that go with it took center stage in Boulder Thursday when more than 350 people gathered for the 12th annual Boulder Economic Summit presented by the Boulder Chamber.

This year’s theme, The Smart Economy, delved into the pros and cons of technology and its advances, particularly as they relate to smart living, smart mobility and a smart workforce. Multiple panels comprised of top experts from industry, business and government deliberated the topic at the University of Colorado Boulder University Memorial Center, and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser presented the keynote address.

Societies are undergoing a radical shift in the way they live and interact with each other transforming the economy in the process, Weiser said.

“We are living in the world of network, not hierarchies,” he said.

The concept of networks defines the smart economy, which is sustained through collaborations facilitated by technology. The high level of connectivity, thanks to broadband internet, has rendered obsolete the “command and control” method practiced in large organizations, Weiser said.

“Facilitating more networks could be the driver of economic growth,” he said.

Boulder’s startup culture was built on that, and adoption of 5G technology will further enhance problem-solving opportunities and economic growth, Weiser said. Networks are about helping one other succeed, he said.

It is important government institutions also embrace the 21st century tools to solve problems: Delivering  services to aging populations, taking on consumer complaints or even helping first responders meet the challenges they face, Weiser said.

He also cautioned about technology pushing things out of balance, making people lose sight of human relationships, empathy and listening. It’s important not to be imprisoned by technology, he said.

Effective collaboration around shared goals is welcome, but collusion — that hurts competition, workers and consumers — is not, Weiser said.

Technological advancements are happening at a faster clip than government institutions can respond to them and set policy guidelines, said Julia Richman, the city of Boulder’s chief innovation and technology officer. There are privacy concerns with the collection and use of data, but data-informed decision making helps the government better serve its constituents, she said.

Smart tech-based innovations that make life more efficient and comfortable have been incorporated in design, be it in housing, transportation or any other consumer convenience, Richman said

Scott Green, site engineering director at Google, spoke of the importance of cross-disciplinary skills for making connections across different worlds. “Software is getting integrated into everything,” he said, citing how data science can be applied to personalized medicine to improve outcomes as an example.

As health care costs continue increasing, it makes sense to have better electronic health record systems, said April Giles, vice president, of business development at Fitzsimons Innovation Community. It potentially can help reduce costs, and provide better care with better outcomes, she said. Big data analytics will help segment patient demographics and medical conditions allowing providers to offer interventions before minor problems turns into major ones, and even prescribe the best course of treatment for their patients knowing what will work for them, Giles said.

Abbey Abel, an associate at Cityfi, spoke about the importance of digital literacy, and the role public libraries can play in educating those who are digitally challenged.

“Just because you have technology doesn’t mean you can change human behavior,” she said.

blog comments powered by Disqus