One of the biggest challenges we hear about from both municipal governments and the corporate sector when it comes to public-private partnerships (P3s) is the sticky issue of procurement processes. Local governments are used to buying one way, and companies are used to selling another.

The problem isn’t just around contract and pricing requirements. With the emergence of smart city initiatives, it’s also about connecting procurement across multiple municipal departments. For example, both transportation and public safety offices might benefit from installing cameras and sensors at a particular intersection, but that doesn’t mean that the two departments have a way of joining together to bid out the project, review vendors, and ink a deal that involves sharing costs.

Entrepreneurs in Dallas came up with a sneaky way around the procurement dilemma. The non-profit Dallas Innovation Alliance (DIA) has an agreement to do work for the city for free in exchange for access to public rights of way and the authority to act as a middleman with corporate partners. The DIA has used its position to create a smart cities living lab where companies have donated equipment and services initially, but have also been given assurances that the city will pay ongoing costs after the first year of the program.

The advantage? There are zero procurement rules to contend with, and the DIA was able to stand up a significant smart city project in just ten months. (Read more details in the Smart City Funding Strategies Playbook)

The DIA approach doesn’t solve procurement in the long run, but it does give proof of a return-on-investment model before the city government has to sign any paperwork. And the Alliance is betting that proof goes a long way toward smoothing over procurement speed bumps in the future.


The larger issue of how to make public-private partnerships work is one we’ll be tackling in a panel session at the Smart Cities Summit in Atlanta later this month. Procurement will be one part of the discussion, but we’ll also examine ongoing P3 operations, and the opportunities available for partnerships in different smart city sectors.

US Ignite’s Mari Silbey will moderate the panel on Building Intelligent and Progressive Cities with Public Private Partnerships. Speakers on the panel include Kansas City CIO Bob Bennett, Matthew Raifman from the Ford Motor Company, and Jason JonMichael, the assistant director for smart mobility in the city of Austin.

Want to learn more? Join us in Atlanta.

Cities Summit 2018 – October 29-30, 2018 – Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Georgia

Technology is continuing to move at an immensely fast pace, and cities must keep up with this change by progressing their IoT initiatives.

Taking place October 29-30 in Atlanta, Smart Cities Summit will be co-located for the first time ever with Industrial IoT World and IoT Blockchain Summit.

The event will explore topics such as new disruptive technologies, data & connectivity, innovation procurement, seamless transportation and 5G/Cybersecurity. Hear thought-provoking case studies from speakers across the ecosystem, including AVIS Budget Group, City of Miami, FedEx and more.

Backed by over 600 key players from global enterprises, city leaders and technology professionals, Smart Cities Summit is where resilient and responsive cities are made.

For more information about the show or to register for a pass, visit