Smart Equity

Karen Lightman

From the Blog

The EQ of AI: Making Smart Cities More Equitable By Definition

When people think of smart cities, they often think in terms of efficiency, convenience and security: shorter commute times. Robots that deliver packages. Cameras that monitor who picks up those packages.

In its simplest definition, a smart city is one that gathers and uses data to improve its operations. But it’s time to start redefining what “smart” could — and should — be. The truly smart city harnesses data and technology to address the root causes of inequities with the goal of improving quality of life for all residents.

Carnegie Mellon University’s Metro21: Smart Cities Institute has tested this premise during the COVID-19 pandemic by collaborating with non-profit and municipal partners to optimize the delivery of more than 100,000 meals to families in need throughout the Pittsburgh region. We also began to rethink the role technology plays in perpetuating bias through things like facial recognition software. We collaborated with more than 70 municipal and equity partners on more than 60 pilot projects throughout the region to better understand these consequences, both intended and unintended.

As the $65 billion broadband investment rolls out under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, our region should commit to promoting broadband that fosters economic development and innovation across the region, whether urban, suburban or rural. Addressing gaps in broadband access will help us improve our region’s quality of life and demonstrate what really defines the smart community.

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One Year In, Diversity-Focused Venture Capital Group Hits Milestones

Less than a year after its formation, Pittsburgh-based Black Tech Nation Ventures celebrated an important milestone: $25 million in raised funds, which is halfway to its $50 million goal. 

The venture capital group, which offers seed and Series A levels of funding to Black and diverse tech startups, also announced its first investment: BlendEd, a Cleveland-based company that offers a software platform for community college professors to build and share courses.

Black Tech Nation Ventures was first formed in 2020 by Kelauni Jasmyn, founder of the eponymous Black Tech Nation community group for entrepreneurs; David Motley, president and CEO of managed services provider MCAPS LLC and co-founder of the African American Directors Forum; and Sean Sebastian, founding partner of Birchmere Ventures.

The fund expects to reach its $50 million goal by the summer of 2022.

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“For a city of its size, Pittsburgh has an outsized innovation ecosystem. The number of companies bringing innovation here is growing every year.”

Ilana Diamond, managing partner, 412 Venture Fund
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How AI can level the region’s playing field