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Tech-talking mayors: Where cities stand on ransomware, AI, 5G, smart cities and more

At its recent annual meeting, the U.S. Conference of Mayors issued resolutions ranging from support of a free press, humanitarian treatment of asylum seekers and better gun policies to backing the Equal Rights Amendment. Members of the official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more also voiced support for a number of tech-related initiatives. Here's a rundown:


Acknowledging the damage that ransomware attacks can cause, the mayors agreed that it's important to de-incentivize attackers, so they resolved that the conference "stands united against paying ransoms in the event of an IT security breach." This motion comes more than two months after a ransomware attack that crippled Baltimore's IT systems is still being felt. More recently, several smaller cities, including two in Florida -- Lake City and Riviera City -- paid attackers the ransom to regain access to the systems and files.

As cities become more dependent on big data and the electricity grid and deploy more technology -- including drones, autonomous vehicles and edge computing and analytics -- their IT infrastructure needs to be much be persistent, secure and resilient, the mayors said. The Data Protection at the Edge Resolution calls on public and private entities to look for solutions that secure the continuity of data systems. It also calls on the administration and Congress to encourage fault-tolerant technology solutions and protect public and private data with standards that ensure that the power supply is physically protected, redundancy, sustainable and resilient.

The mayors urged Congress to pass the State Cyber Security Act (H.R. 2130/S.1065), which would provide grants to help state and local governments better address threats and vulnerabilities and build resiliency plans.

To protect consumers' data privacy, the conference urged Congress to adopt data privacy policies that prohibit certain practices, mandate transparency and give consumers more control over their personal data. It also called for prohibiting the sale or secondary use of certain personal data, such as Social Security numbers, biometric data and financial and health information, unless a consumer specifically allows it.


Cities should consider a tax on companies that replace workers with robots or other automation so they can replace the federal, state, and local revenue lost from employment and make investments in retraining, reskilling and entrepreneurship. To prepare the workforce for a more automated future, the conference called on mayors to provide municipal workers with ongoing reskilling as traditional municipal job classifications are transformed. Cities should also examine how automation could increase community service, volunteerism and civic engagement.

5G and broadband

With many cities disputing the installation of 5G small cell infrastructure on public rights of way, the mayors urged the president, Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and state governments to protect municipalities' authority over their local rights-of-way and ensure they receive fair-market compensation for access to all public assets. "The U.S. Conference of Mayors should oppose any new regulation or legislation that would limit, in any way, local government oversight and authority regarding the deployment of 5G broadband in communities," the group declared.

The mayors likewise asked Congress to support municipal authority when it comes to broadband expansion, saying that "affordable broadband cannot be achieved through deregulation and preemption of local authority, but will require partnerships and robust and dedicated federal funding to accelerate universal broadband deployment."

Smart cities

Voicing commitment to the transition of all vehicles to zero emission technologies, the mayors urged Congress and the administration to enhance the Federal Electric Vehicle tax credit, expand incentives to other vehicle classes and invest in EV infrastructure.

The mayors supported the development and deployment of common, open-sourced software platforms to manage safety, limit congestion, promote commerce and improve residents' quality of life. Mobility management solutions should preserve privacy while providing transparent access to data, they said. The conference also encouraged mayors to look at tech-based traffic violation solutions that would eliminate discrimination in traffic enforcement.

Law enforcement

Cities should use their purchasing power to encourage research on smart gun technology along with other strategies to reduce gun violence, such as restricting the types of weapons and ammunition that can be sold and encouraging manufacturers and dealers to increase gun safety.

To help local law enforcement offices combat violence, the mayors encouraged them to take advantage of best practices and training opportunities with other nations experienced in dealing with extremist violence, such as Israel, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

See all the resolutions here.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at [email protected] or @sjaymiller.


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