Meeting Usman Haque: a shared vision for the IoT

Posted on 3rd May 2013 in cities, government, Internet of Things

We had our second successful Boston/New England IoT Meetup last night, with some great speakers (more about them later). Thanks to my co-organizer, Chris Rezendes of INEX Advisors, for putting together a great program!

For me, the high point was getting to meet one of the IoT’s real pioneers: Usman Haque, who created Pachube, now Cosm, Ltd. By creating this

Usman Haque

easy-to-use, affordable platform to connect devices and apps to securely store and exchange data, he made it possible for solo IoT innovators and start-up companies to offer viable IoT services without major investments in infrastructure. Bravo!

Haque told me that he is now concentrating on “urban projects” for Cosm. While he wouldn’t be more specific at this point, he did say that he’s working with New York City Digital on some new services.

Since the time when I worked with former US CIO Vivek Kundra when he was pioneering urban data access as the CTO for the District of Columbia, I’ve been a huge fan of the work going on in cities such as New York, Washington, San Francisco, Vancouver, and right here in the Hub, with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. It seems to me that the way these cities are not only creating their own digital services, but also making their data freely available to citizen-hackers using open standards and engaging in both collaboration and friendly competition building upon each other’s innovations is in many ways ahead of what the private sector is doing (I wrote upon this phenomenon at length in my book Data Dynamite).

Our chat revealed that we share a vision for the future of “smart cities”: while companies such as IBM are doing some important work, what makes great cities isn’t just making things such as transportation function more efficiently. What really makes great cities is the way they bring together innovators who bump into each other, talk, and cross-fertilize each other’s ideas. This bottoms-up fermentation, facilitated by sharing mechanisms such as Cosm, leads to real progress and innovation. Let 1,000 apps bloom!

Thanks, Usman, for both the inspiration and the tools to make great cities.

PS: His girlfriend, Natalie Jeremijenko, is doing some pretty cool environmental stuff — my other passion, especially when it is base on “citizen science”

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