My journey to: City Protocol Task Force

I am writing today to THANK YOU each for joining me in the InnovatingSMART adventure, and to announce where it has taken me personally and professionally.  

Let there be no mistake -- I would not have arrived here were it not for YOU.


InnovatingSMART has given me a platform to pursue my professional interests, and to be near what I love.  It has also given me an opportunity to discover more clearly what I think and what I have to offer next.   There is nothing like having allies and an audience to help you articulate your visions and discoveries more clearly to yourself.


InnovatingSMART allowed me to request press passes to conferences of great interest over the last several years, including all of the GreenBiz conferences that have been held in San Francisco.   This led ultimately to my becoming a contributor to the GreenBiz news platform. is filled with fascinating stories about SMART innovators, and my knowledge and interests were further refined by reading and writing for that platform.


Over time, my interest in all-things-smart became a particular interest in Smart Cities.   Feeding that interest first is the Cool City Challenge, a social innovation initiative that seeks to take low-carbon and resilient living to scale within cities, block by block.  

Colleagues had turned me on to a similar concept -- in a creative circle hosted by Sustainable Silicon Valley -- which we came to call Mission: Resiliency.  When I discovered that the Cool City Challenge was implementing that idea and more, I began assisting them in their formative efforts, e.g., by mapping their social innovation program to a set of software specifications.
Inspired by the potential of city-centered innovation, I began researching the many and varied dimensions of the Smart City concept.  Over a few months I developed a series of six GreenBiz articles on the topic of standards for Smart Cities.

Early in this process, one of my research sources sent me materials which mentioned the City Protocol Society, an organization founded by leading smart cities and businesses, and centered in Barcelona.   While developing the questions I wished to ask them, I discovered they had an unfilled position for an international Chair of the City Protocol Task Force (CPTF). I am privileged and pleased to have taken up that role.   I began my service on July 1st.


What is the CPTF?  You may have heard of the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force), which defined many of the Internet standards you use today.  (Turns out I was involved indirectly with the IETF, and directly with many other protocol standardization processes, during an earlier career.) Think of the CPTF as being like the IETF  for Cities.  


The CPTF seeks to define a common systems view for cities, and then round up or write the protocols that will help SMART innovators develop and SMART cities deploy common solutions that can work across many different cities – building up the market for the innovative solutions, and bringing down the prices for cities.  For more about City Protocol and CPTF, check out my recent blog post at

I love this work! 

If there are lessons from my InnovatingSMART experience that I wish to share with you now, they are these…

First Lesson -
Always follow your curiosity and continually research things you are interested in.  If you can, write, make videos or make art about it.  Then share it.  The Internet provides powerful, flexible, relatively simple ways to do that.  While researching, be sure to talk to others interested in your topic, and ask them for stories, opinions, quotes and pointers.  They will help you find things you never would have found without them.

Second lesson -
(echoed by pretty much every SMART innovator we’ve collectively asked):
Be patient.   Take care of your financial needs in whatever ways you can, but always be feeding your dreams.   The journey itself will be a pleasure.  And who knows? it may lead you to something cooler than you’d imagined.

Third lesson -
Be not afraid.  The CPTF Chair position has a three-year term.  After that?  I can imagine but I cannot know. The position itself will take me to the next leg of this journey.

p.s. From time to time I will be contributing articles on City Protocol to the green business press, via my blog at GreenBiz. Please watch for news there.  You can sign up to have newsletters sent directly to your inbox (my articles are typically included in the VERGE newsletter, as well as the daily GREENBUZZ).  Thank you!!

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Sue Lebeck 

  Cool Block Platform Director

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