Smart City Diaries TV Video Series

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Smart City Diaries TV Video Series
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Smart City Diaries
Team Organizations Lost Summit Films
Marcus Consulting Group
DKS Associates
Blue Arris
Team Leaders Deborah Acosta
Anna Acosta
Ann Marcus
Participating Municipalities San Leandro CA
Portland OR
Status Launched
Document None


Smart City Diaries is a documentary television and podcast series that showcases the phenomenon of digital transformation in small and large cities in the developed and developing world. Destination cities will have undertaken smart city initiatives to transform the way they manage their city operations and provide information and services to their residents. Each city has unique physical, social and cultural qualities; the series highlights individuals across cultures to understand how rapidly changing technologies impact how they live, work, play and learn.

The series will be hosted by a mother and daughter team: Deborah Acosta and Anna Acosta. Their perspectives differ as do their attitudes and levels of comfort with new technologies: one is a baby boomer, the other a millennial. One was CIO for a small California city, the other is a musician, songwriter, social justice blogger and social media expert. They are both smart and sassy, ready to explore a range of cities and the people who are impacted by smart city digital transformations. Through the eyes of these two women, each episode reveals how unique locations approach meeting the quality-of-life demands of residents, businesses and visitors through increased use of technology in an era of the Internet of Things, shifting populations and shrinking budgets and resources.


Cities are facing every manner of challenges in addressing current and future operational efficiency and determining which systems and infrastructures should be prioritized for repair and upgrade. City leaders recognize the need to provide services and information for their citizenry in a more cost effective and efficient manner. The application of new smart city solutions is appropriate given budgets, shifting populations, and the need to ensure equitable access to information and services.


Currently, the discussions on how to address these issues have occurred at the government and technology provider levels. Limited discussion has taken place at the level of regular citizens and most of the general population globally knows little or nothing about smart city initiatives and how individuals may be affected. They lack the information that will allow them to prepare for and participate in these monumental shifts, shifts that will impact how they will work, live, play and learn. This TV series is designed to appeal to this very audience—the regular person on the street—from millennial to baby boomer – to inform and entertain them and allow them to become knowledgeable, competent and confident about the changes that are already underway.

Major Requirements

  1. Develop the series concept for 10 half-hour episodes covering 10 global cities
  2. Recruit qualified, knowledgeable participants for key roles
  3. Craft a proposal that includes background, mission, scope, milestones, deliverables, budget and success metrics
  4. Produce a pilot to demonstrate the concepts in action
  5. Identify target cities and sponsors to approach for inclusion, sponsorship (series or by episode), product placement companies, et al.
  6. “Sell” series to one or more public / private sector organizations so that we can flesh out and finalize the cities/programs to focus on for each episode and the associated technologies and products that we’ll feature.
  7. Once talent, funding and schedules are complete, book the cities and begin filming.
  8. Develop and launch media/social media outreach campaign as a precursor to measuring post-pilot and ongoing series awareness – including proposal
  9. Continue to process feedback to influence the series going forward.

Performance Targets

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Measurement Methods
  1. Expand the knowledge of residents and visitors in target cities regarding the potentially transformative power of “smart” technologies their communities are engaged in, including tech that individuals may already be using or benefiting from, e.g., social media, transportation apps, LED street lighting, augmented reality (think Pokémon game).
  2. Increase awareness that individual tech applications are part of a larger “smart cities” / IoT / digital transformation / big data phenomenon.
  3. Expand understanding across a broader viewership of smart city initiatives and impact on residents and visitors—as well as on city operations, government information access and services, economic development, etc.-- through various media channels (online video, cable television, broadcast television, private licensing, etc. TBD per business models / sponsorship agreements).
  • Citizen / Visitor Smart City Awareness Survey
  1. Establish a set of baseline survey questions to present to sample set of participants to gauge common knowledge about smart city initiatives: what they understand them to be, what they believe their purpose to and how individuals are being, or think they will be, impacted.
  2. Determine the source of this knowledge from this sample population.
  3. Show (or provide a link to) the pilot episode to this sample group.
  4. Re-query the same individuals to gauge their understanding, interest and awareness of value and possible impact of smart city initiatives.
  5. We propose to gather data for the pilot (using a sampling /querying approach to be determined and approved) and then do so again at Episode 6 to gauge the educational effectiveness of the pilot and then potentially of a series of episodes taken together as a body of work.
  6. Use analytics available across various media to gauge interest / value / impact.
  • Social/Media Outreach Campaign
  1. Use social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) to drive interest, display content, gather feedback and build awareness of the series.
  2. We’ll drive general and special interest community, culture and tech press to links to outtakes from pilot (and other series footage as it becomes available).
  3. Prepare hosts and sponsors for media opportunities / interviews
  4. Participate where possible in local, regional, national and international events that target our audiences / sponsors.

Standards, Replicability, Scalability, and Sustainability

We will establish a set of criteria for what elements will be included in each episode – for instance:

  • A city in which an identified and significant (meaning affecting many citizens or responsible for high city operation costs) city operations challenge is being addressed by a smart city initiative
  • A unique social or cultural tradition we can document and showcase.
  • A set of leaders, citizens and tech or service providers willing to speak on the record on the smart city activities and their roadblocks, successes and benefits.
  • A set of public and private sector sponsors for each episode or across multiple episodes or the entire series.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

  • Cybersecurity will be addressed as an issue throughout the series, with a visit to one city that specializes in cybersecurity, probably Talin, Estonia.
  • We will work with city leadership in each of the cities we highlight for each episode. We do not believe that there will be specific cybersecurity concerns related to this project, but cybersecurity will be a topic that will likely come up in various discussions around data sharing, monetization, privacy, GDPR and related privacy programs that may develop.
  • The series would address fears expressed generally by the public about technology and personal digital security as they move to a life in the cloud. If some participants wish to provide opinions anonymously, we can find ways to include their opinions (such as in aggregated numbers or general reporting) and not their identities.
  • We will require releases for participants in the series; we will take any necessary precautions to protect the identities of non-participating passers-by as we are taping in city environments.


  • Raised awareness, understanding, individual courage to ask questions leading to increased interest, acceptance (or rejection) of new technologies and engagement in smart city programs / new service offerings.
  • Foundational awareness of smart city tech that creates enthusiasm, advocacy, healthy skepticism and endorsement by citizens and communities in smart cities initiatives.
  • Individuals and communities are better prepared for changes in the way they operate within their cities and with other cities / counties in their region.
  • Build local, regional, statewide, national awareness in the US and in other countries worldwide on smart city impact.
  • Highlight technology brands that are helping cities successfully achieve their smart city goals.
  • Highlight successful programs / solutions in cities worldwide.


  1. The Smart City Diaries team has developed a “proposal” for the series that highlights the purpose, mission, steps, expenses / budgets, and other procedural and logistical elements of the project along with a listing of potential choices for cities to include in the first season (10 episodes)
  2. The team is currently working on a pilot episode for the City of San Leandro California
  3. The team has already presented the concept to a potential transportation technology sponsor as well as to an individual with significant experience in providing education in technology programs in emerging countries (Tunisia, Bangladesh & Pakistan) who is interested in providing content and location connections that could help in the development of city/country stories and venues. Reception has been warm, enthusiastic and helpful in building the team.