San Antonio Mayor and ‘Accidental Politician’ Ivy Taylor Talks Digital Inclusion, Smart Cities

San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor at SXSW in Austin.

San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor at SXSW in Austin. Route Fifty Staff


Connecting state and local government leaders

“In 20 years ... it will just be the way cities operate”

This is the eleventh in a series of Route Fifty video interviews with mayors who were in Austin, Texas, for SXSW. Previously, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo , West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon , Denver Mayor Michael Hancock , Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett , Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia , District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser , Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer , Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney , Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu .

San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor sees herself as an “accidental politician,” and whether she is attending SXSW to promote her city as a tech hub or making San Antonio a leading smart city, it’s about making San Antonio better for all residents.

“I really am an urban planner, a community development planner,” explained Taylor, who holds an advanced degree in urban planning and worked on affordable housing programs prior to her political career. “I spent my career focused on how to make neighborhoods better places where people can be connected to opportunity.”

The city of San Antonio has put significant funding into smart city solutions in the past few years, with $8 million set aside for initiatives in 2017 alone . The city is also one of 10 communities across the United States to be part of the Envision America program this year, which will provide technical assistance and support to cities looking to invest more comprehensively in the civic technology space.

“When I talk about smart cities I often tell people that I think in 20 years the term will be obsolete because it will just be the way cities operate, do business,” explained Taylor. For Taylor, though, it’s as much about ensuring that everyone has access to the new technology as getting the right technology in place.

“For me a major part of smart cities is digital inclusion, so as more of our interactions with citizens move to technological platforms it’s important that we do not leave behind citizens who may not have have high speed internet at home or computers and other devices at home,” Taylor said. “We have had significant efforts in San Antonio to reach out to provide … access, service, and training on how to use both access and service.”

Mitch Herckis is Senior Program Director for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

NEXT STORY: Route Fifty at SXSW: Our Interview With Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer