Miami’s mayor is embracing technology – including ways to help stop school shootings

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Miami’s new mayor said Monday that the city’s pursuit of Amazon’s second headquarters is just the beginning of its ascendancy as a player in the tech industry as area boosters seek partnerships with Tesla, WeWork and Spotify and increasingly look to technology to help tamp down violent crime.

“Miami must be a tech-savvy city,” Suarez said in his first State of the City speech at historic Miami City Hall on Dinner Key. “If we want to make Miami competitive in a global marketplace … technology must be the economic driver of this city.”

Suarez, who at 40 years old replaces a mayor 30 years his senior, has been enamored with technology since first becoming a commissioner in 2009. He pushed a contract with ShotSpotter, a polarizing gunfire identification system that uses microphones to triangulate gunfire, and supported Airbnb when a majority of the City Commission voted to make home-sharing illegal across most of the city.

Just past his 100th day in office, Suarez said Monday that he wants to lead the city head-on into the tech sector. Earlier this month, city commissioners agreed to allow Suarez’s city manager to operate with their express consent under a veil of secrecy after Amazon required all 20 finalists to enter into a non-disclosure agreement. He alluded to another project the city is pursuing: the Latin American headquarters of music streaming service Spotify.

Miami needs “to weave a narrative that we’re a player in the knowledge-based economy, that we’re not just a glitzy fun-and-sun, low-tax city,” the mayor said in an interview.

Suarez said the city is working with Tesla to bring super-charging stations to public parking lots as the company rolls out its affordable Model 3s. He’s also pushing the city — which not so long ago admitted that getting permits for a single-family home typically takes an entire year — to create a smartphone application that will allow contractors and builders to file and track permits from their phones.

And in a more hypothetical sphere, as part of a response to the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Suarez said he’s looking into whether the city can use geofencing — a virtual mapping system that can fire off alerts if penetrated — to help track known threats around Miami schools.

“This is in the very early stages,” he said. “But it’s something I’m pursuing.”


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