We live in a world where more and more people are moving to cities to live and to work. It’s an urbanization process that’s putting growing pressure on cities to be able to scale. More people in cities means more stress on the urban infrastructure, traffic congestion woes, higher crime levels, and challenges in getting access to healthcare, education, and other basic services.

The good news is that the increasing digitalization of our world, fueled by Internet of Things (IoT) technology, is providing new ways to deliver services and improve quality of life. Cities are becoming smarter all the time.

Digitize or Bust

People will keep moving to the cities, because it’s where the jobs are. Cities in turn need to think about how they attract the companies and talent that allow them to cope with all of the challenges of urbanization. It’s a topic that Cisco Services VP and General Manager Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn recently tackled in a webinar titled “Building the Human Capital for Sustainable Cities: Filling the Talent Pipeline for Smart Urban Systems.”

Here is a video of her webinar presentation:


“Every single sector needs to get technology-fluent, has to get digitally fluent, has to think about how it’s going to use digital transformation to drive long-term prosperity,” says Beliveau-Dunn. “For corporations, this is their No. 1 agenda item—to innovate and digitize their business model so that they can commingle with their community in a better way to serve the customer better.”

And, of course, that effort demands all kinds of talent. The truly enabled digital city will have experts driving economic development across an ecosystem that includes public services, transport, energy, education, health, and retail.

Beliveau-Dunn, who heads up a pan-industry initiative called the IoT Talent Consortium, reminds us that when you think about smart cities from the perspective of IoT, it is about mustering up the talent to connect city services and business services together through a rich infrastructure to realize a huge opportunity: a $19 trillion opportunity for the global public sector, according to Cisco.

It’s a challenge that will require the training of existing talent and the building of new talent. “Talent is falling well behind the agenda on digitization,” says Beliveau-Dunn. Fifty percent of all jobs will require technical acumen, she adds.

New Job Roles for IoT and Smart Cities

To provide a concrete sense of the vision, Beliveau-Dunn shares some of the IoT job roles that are coming to the forefront as technology becomes an increasingly significant part of our lives and the way we work every day:

  • Urban innovator/mechanic: These individuals will devote to the question of how you transform an existing city to harness the best of what the private and public sector can do together.
  • Data scientist: Data scientists will help with pulling data from billions of connected things and deriving contextual information and insight from that.
  • Platform developer: The platform developer will pull myriad applications together and incorporate them into the context of a solution that connects things that have never been connected before.
  • Cybersecurity analyst: Everything that we do as part of smart cities will need to be safe and secure. “You don’t want to engage in any of this,” states Beliveau-Dunn, “unless you have built out a set of policies and procedures and technologies that will assist you in keeping everyone safe.”
  • Machine learning scientist: Machine learning will become a core part of how we learn, work, and interact every day and how we get information served up to us.


Other new job roles spawned by IoT are virtual reality designer, network programmer, robotics specialist, cloud architect, neural implant technician, and digital anthropologist.

Such specialized skills, adds Beliveau-Dunn, are wrapped up in broad critical skills as well: collaboration, communication, entrepreneurship, the ability to think through brand new problems and the global and local implications of decisions, an understanding of diversity and how to respond to that in the workplace, the skill to make calculated risks while relying on all of the resources available to communities.

IoT Talent Consortium: Striving to Infuse the Talent Pipeline

It will not only be the responsibility of educational institutions to ready people for IoT but the responsibility of all organizations, says Beliveau-Dunn. Watch her webinar presentation above to learn more about how the IoT Talent Consortium is aiming to create a smarter, more competitive, agile workforce.

“We have plenty of people in the world to get these things done,” she states. “The problem is that they are not skilled in the right things to be able to make the difference, to be able to make these leaps. Our job is to make sure that we are bringing them forward and connecting them to the workforce companies that will hire this kind of talent, and that are desperately in need of this kind of talent.”

One of Learning@Cisco’s commitments toward preparing workers for IoT is its Cisco Industrial Networking Specialist certification. Learn more here.

What jobs do you envision on the horizon as part of IoT and the growth of smart cities?


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Gary Pfitzer is a content manager at Learning@Cisco, focused on bringing various aspects of today's IT journey to light through business papers, blogging, customer success stories, and other writing.