Karen Tay


Smart Cities

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Areas of Expertise

Autonomous Vehicles  •  Smart Cities  •  Facilitator  •  Moderator

About Karen

Karen is a Princeton-educated policymaker, strategic communicator and organizational transformer, who serves as a member of the Singapore Government’s top leadership corps. In her current role, Karen is Singapore’s International Smart Nation Director based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She heads global technology talent networking for Singapore, profiles Singapore’s smart cities work globally, and builds strategic relationships with industry, Governments and thought leaders.

Karen’s enduring passion is to see more equitable, sustainable cities which are built on collaboration and trust among people and leaders. Her career has served this vision in various ways.

Education. She designed and implemented a $1B package of policies to enable more equal access to affordable, quality preschool education for children from lower and middle income families, and played a critical role in setting up the Singapore Institute of Technology – the first university to offer work-study degree programs to students from vocational backgrounds.

Strategic communications and political speechwriting. She founded a new strategic engagement function in the Education Ministry, strengthening its ability to connect with the public on controversial policies, and served as a political speechwriter to many members of the Cabinet, including the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister.

Technology for public good. In her current role, she is passionate about bringing technology, policy and business models together to maximize public value and minimize public risks. She writes about this at www.techandpublicgood.com and speaks on the topic globally, addressing thousands of business and Government executives at platforms such as CES, SXSW, Singularity University Global Summit, AI EXPO.

Coaching and leadership development. She is a trained executive coach who has supported dozens of leaders through organizational transformation.

Autonomous Vehicles and the Impact on Cities - Singularity University Global Summit

An Interview with Karen Tay, Smart Nation Director, Singapore

The Future of Smart Cities

Speaking Topics

  • Digital Transformation: Peeling back the Curtain

    It’s easy to look at “indigenously technical” companies like Google and envy how quickly they can innovate. But what if your organization was not set up for the digital age, and you need to urgently transform it?
    How do you start breaking down Organizational and infrastructural silos?
    What approaches have different countries, cities and businesses taken?
    How do you approach the issue of recruiting new technical talent?
    What are the key success factors, Paradigm shifts and principles?

  • How to Build Smart Cities for the Common Good

    Why smart cities? Technologies like autonomous cars, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence seem like they hold remarkable possibilities for the future of cities, but will their impact be positive for all city-dwellers?

    Unless we’re deliberate about deploying technology in a way that serves all members of society—even those who cannot afford to pay—the answer is, not necessarily.

    Starting with a case study on autonomous cars, smart city expert Karen Tay discusses how we can ensure that the benefits of emerging technologies in smart cities are distributed equally throughout society for the collective gain, and shares ways for both cities and startups to evolve and collaborate in order to maximize public good.

    In this talk you will:
    – Understand some of the biggest challenges facing cities today.
    – See how emerging technologies can either exacerbate or mitigate these obstacles.
    – Consider the potential for working with Governments on building smart cities, and whether governments truly are still stuck in the 19th century.
    – Learn critical frameworks for startups and technologists who are aiming to maximize both public good and revenue.

  • The Future of Cities: Making Technology Work for Common Good

    Why smart cities? The potential of technologies like blockchain, AI, and IoT are endless, but will the effect be positive on the cities where we live, work, and play? The jury is not out, but popular films and novels tend to portray a more dystopian than utopian future. It doesn’t have to go that way. Technology can help us tackle some of the biggest existential issues that cities face — such as inequality, waste, and social isolation — but we have to first dream, and then work cross-functionally across technology, business models, policy, and planning to deliver it. Smart cities expert Karen Tay will take you on a tour of how to build smart cities for common good, and the implications for you as business leaders and citizens.

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