Will Streit (June 12-14, Thurs, Fri & Sat) – Thursday was the big day – with our final presentation to the city followed by a press conference with the Mayor. The presentation went extremely well, and was well received. Rama reviewed the recommendations and opportunities for big data and integration, bringing amazing energy and clarity to a tough topic. Venkat went through a real world use case about an accident response that helped to illustrate the potential of the proposals. Gina and Will reviewed the customer engagement opportunities and business model potential. Paige and Kristof reviewed the organizational and governance recommendations – and kudos to them for showing its importance. Although customer interaction, mobile apps, and data integration are the type of initiatives that people can relate to, we know that systematic and organizational enhancements are often the foundation that enables everything else.
Gina closed with a wonderful reflection on the beauty of Vilnius and an appreciation for the proactive view the city is taking. She quoted a very appropriate Joni Mitchell song:
“You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone,
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”
Seventy percent of Vilnius is greenery, rivers, or lakes. Additionally, the Old Town in Vilnius was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994. We really appreciated the city’s proactive desire to use Smarter Transportation to preserve that beauty and character. And we were glad we could work on a Smarter Cities Challenge to help and be a part of it!
After the review with the city, we did a press conference with the Mayor and Indrë Jakaitytë (a city council member and a lead of the Smart Vilnius organization). With the press, we shared our observations and recommendation focus areas. After about 10 minutes of taking questions, we wrapped up and headed to lunch. We still had to hunker down for the afternoon to generate the written document.
That evening, we went out in the city to celebrate finishing the presentation. Anton and Indre were kind enough to meet us for dinner. We spent a few hours chatting about our time in Vilnius. We continue to be thankful for the time and help they gave us, which was true of the entire city. As we walked home, we again appreciated the use of open space. The river lawn had been turned into an outdoor World Cup viewing party with a 40 foot screen!
Friday we closed out our work items and took care of the closing logistics. In the evening we shopped for a bit – anything amber or linen was great. For dinner we stayed in Old Town and sat out on the patio. The timing was perfect. Just after we sat down under the awning it started raining – one of the only times it really rained – and hearing the rain hit the awning and watching it run down the cobblestone street was fantastic. And by the time we were done, so was the rain. We all had a nice walk back, just in time to sleep for a few minutes before the bus arrived extremely early Saturday morning for the airport.
We are all disappointed to leave. We have each traveled all over the world, but Vilnius is unique. We never stopped being astonished by the intricate balance of old and new, quaint and modern, and natural and architectural beauty.
Overall, the three weeks have been simply amazing. The people in the city were great. The city itself was unbelievable. And most importantly, the team was fantastic. The six of us feel unbelievably lucky to have such close friends.
Left-to-Right: Kristof, Venkat, Paige, Gina, Rama, Will
Aciu! (“thank you” in Lithuanian)