There’s nothing better for a moderator than being blessed with a group of well-informed and opinionated panelists, which is why at the Smart Cities Summit in Atlanta this week, the session on “Building Intelligent and Progressive Cities with Public Private Partnerships” was bound to produce new and interesting insights – insights about financial models, data management, RFPs, and more.

The highlight, however, came at the very end of the session. In a lightning round, moderator Mari Silbey, Director of Communications for US Ignite, asked panelists to name one player, or type of player in the smart cities sector that would play an increasingly important role in the coming years. Here’s what panelists Bob Bennett, CIO of Kansas City, Matthew Raifman, Senior Manager of City Solutions for Ford Smart Mobility, Jason JonMichael, Assistant Director for Smart Mobility in Austin, and Maurice Henderson II, COO of the TriMet tri-county transit authority of Oregon, had to say.

1.      The Silo Buster – To mix a metaphor, there’s no such thing as staying in your own swim lane anymore. The only way smart city projects are going to succeed is if they take advantage of resources and deliver benefits across a range of sectors and municipal departments. Transportation impacts public safety which impacts jobs and economic development. It’s not possible to keep smart city applications and services in silos, so new silo-busting companies/people/organizations are going to be necessary to develop initiatives that cross traditional boundaries in local government.

2.      UI Officer – If you build it, they may come. But they’ll only use your smart city service if it’s easy, appealing, and obviously beneficial. Increasingly, smart city experts are recognizing that fact and the importance of the user interface to service adoption and value. Who’s going to take responsibility for that? In the future, it could be a new class of UI officers for smart city applications.

3.      Chief Resilience Officer – Cities undergo a lot of stress testing, whether through recovering from a natural disaster, trying to meet the needs of all citizens, or working to make do with resources that don’t stretch as far as everyone would like. In that vein, the role of a Chief Resilience Officer is going to become more important – someone who (again) sees across multiple municipal departments and acts to improve how a community responds to challenges and continues to thrive.

4.      Partner in Prime – As the funding models for smart cities continue to sort themselves out, many people are now betting that new long-term investment strategies are needed to make projects and programs sustainable. Kansas City’s Bob Bennett believes that means that cities will have to find a primary partner to manage their investment and coordinate additional partners for different requirements over time. What does “over time” look like? It could be a span of decades, and while elected officials come and go, the primary partner for a city would remain consistent across multiple administrations.