Unlike neighboring counties such as San Francisco or Santa Clara, San Mateo County’s significant population is not contained within a single, dominant city like San Francisco or San Jose. Rather, the County of San Mateo is comprised of 22 cities, 23 school districts, and large unincorporated areas. It is home to technology-savvy public and major businesses in technology, health care, and finance, yet also includes substantial suburban and rural communities. The absence of a large leading city with deep resources and expertise places County government is in a unique role to be both a technology thought leader and a regional facilitator for broad-based technology investments.
Such countywide initiatives serve the larger community by ensuring innovation does not stop at city borders. This is especially important in commuter-heavy counties like San Mateo, where most people work, shop, and live in multiple different communities throughout the region. Ubiquitous technology access and solutions need to travel with residents and visitors as they move about throughout their days.
In the last few years, San Mateo County has been recognized for our efforts to bridge the digital divide by providing free high-speed internet access to underserved communities. These efforts have evolved to create areas of innovation where we are not just connecting people but also things. This "Internet of Things" (IoT) provides a framework for Smart City initiatives, or in San Mateo County’s case, “Smart Region” initiatives.
A Smart City—or Smart Region—is an area where multiple public and private organizations cooperate to collect, analyze, and actualize real-time information, including using communication technologies to increase operational efficiency, improve government services and citizen welfare, and share information with the public.
This month, the County of San Mateo’s Information Services Department (ISD) launched SMC Labs, a series of “Innovation Zones” designed to jumpstart the County’s Smart Region initiative.