Introduction: How to Build an International Smart City in 10 Days

I'm working on a program that brings students from China, the Philippines and the USA together on teams to compete in the World Robot Olympiad in Long Beach, California. The theme of this year is Smart Cities.

So we are building a Smart City from July 24th to August 3rd in Long Beach, California.

This is not your average Smart City. It is a multi-media, community-produced Smart City.

When we're done with our city, we will be looking for other places to build. But first we need help building this city. Will you help us?

Step 1: Aspire to Be International

Our smart city will include individuals from many countries. In our case, we are going to have China and the Philippines. We will have the United States, of course. We are certainly going to be an International City.

I know this because we have twice hosted students from China, and we are working very closely with coordinators from the Philippines.

It may seem to be putting the cart before the horse to find your city dwellers before you build your city. These are not our dwellers. These are our planners and builders. They will be of all grades, starting as young as 6 years of age. They will go all the way through High School.

If you are a champion for another country, you can call me to!

Step 2: Find Yourself a Trusted Champion in Each Country

To be International, your City should include residents with a diversity of backgrounds. Since you are just one person, you will need to find yourself a trusted champion in each country.

This may be the most difficult task you have in front of you.

Trust is not easy to come by, and once earned, must still be maintained. If trust is broken, well...

But you must start, and build that trust as you go forward.

Step 3: Consult With the Government

Our City will be built upon the foundation of the World Robot Olympiad, an International, LEGO based Robotics program. We're making sure we meet the goals of the ruling party.

So we will need to ask the WRO USA organizers for permission. Don't worry, I have already secured this permission.


Step 4: Identify Your City Location

Our City will be built at a local university in Long Beach. Our visitors will be staying there, and we want them to have as much time to work on the city, so we'll build it in a room at the university.

Step 5: Set the Foundation

We will build our city on one or more 4' x 8' plywood boards with a 4" protective edge. Sort of like the FIRST LEGO League or WRO robotics game tables. We'll be introducing some hills as we lay the streets over the edges of the tables.

How big will the city be? It depends upon how many tables we can borrow, and how much help we can get. Can we borrow your table?

Step 6: Find Builders to Help You

If you're building a city, there's going to be too much work for one group. You'll need to find builders to take responsibility for the different lots in the city.

I wonder if you and your child, dear reader, might want to do this? Make a building and bring it to our cityscape.

Step 7: Find Funding for Your Builders

Certainly the residents will need to take responsibility for their own dwellings, but perhaps there is a real estate investing group that might consider what you are buildng to be significant. Perhaps they will make an investment in your group of builders.

We're making a makerspace and yes, there will be a need for funding.

If you'd like to sponsor a student in the program, I'd love to talk to you!

We're holding events and fundraising to help provide scholarships for the students' participation. Help us by hosting an event! It'll be fun, we promise!

info at

Step 8: Understand the Smart Possibilities

We're making a Smart City, so let's make it smart.

What does that mean, anyway?

We'll do LEGO Serious Play and have trained facilitators to help us find our technology path and create our smart story.

IF you're not familiar with LEGO Serious Play, it's a method for (among other things) overcoming obstacles to creativity. So necessary for inventing. It's used in corporations for identifying long-range strategy and finding the root of problems. There's a facilitator's training July 22-25 for adults in the Los Angeles area. If you want to take it, there's information here...

After the training, if you'd like to practice, we'd love to have your help on Friday, July 26th!

Step 9: Learn the Technology That Can Make Your City Smart

Smart Cities require technology be part of the formula.

So we're learning about the technology.

Our Friends in China especially want to do something with Autonomous Vehicles, so we'll build a DIY Robocars track. Maybe they will bring cars to run on it.

What else? I could sit here and think of all kinds of data we can collect from the cameras on the cars, and from the cameras on the street: How fast the cars are going. How many times does the chicken cross the road? How many chickens make it across. But that would be my answer. Who knows what the little minds will envision?

Do you play with DIY Robocars? Can you help us to plan this?

Step 10: Gather Your Community of Builders, Designers, Inventors

While your champion overseas is working, you will need to gather your own community of builders, designers and inventors. You will need to visit and write, to call and to call again.

I'm working on it, and maybe you'll be receiving a letter from me.

If you would like to find out more, please let me know and I will call you!

info at

Step 11: Throw a Smart City Raising Party!

Time to have some fun!

By now everyone will have worked to create something to bring, or be preparing to do lots of work at the party!

Our party rollout begins on July 24th and goes through August 3rd. That one is for our high school students.

The party continues on July 28th and goes through August 3rd. That's for our elementary and middle school aged students. By then, our high school students will have knowledge and time to share what they know with the littles.

Join us for our party, as part of the program or with a display!

Step 12: Add a Competition!

Everyone is motivated by community and many by competition.

Ours is the World Robot Olympiad. It's a Southern California Qualifier and a Multi-National Invitational!

That's our party, folks! How will our city turn out? Come to the party and find out!

Then let's all party at your space!

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