The Consumer Electronics Show – The State of Innovation

The states are the laboratories of democracy as Justice Brandeis wrote in 1932. They are seen as a proving ground of sorts for public policy, a platform from which the best policies can be tested and then shared with other states. As such, states cannot afford to take the status quo for granted. As the world changes, states need to change to stay competitive and relevant, pursuing the best policies and understanding innovative growing industries, products and services.

To stay on the curve then, or maybe even ahead of the curve, is an imperative for state legislators. They must continually seek to be educated, exchanging the best ideas and cautions with other legislators while hearing from experts on the issues that the legislators are facing. The result of not continually improving a state can lead to dramatic problems or opportunities missed. A state must make sure that opportunities for its citizens are not arbitrarily limited, that the business environment created by the state is such that start-ups can begin and grow, and that companies can compete effectively.

Last month’s Consumer Electronics Show, again serving as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies as it has for 50 years, highlighted all of the best in innovation in technology. Automated cars, smart speakers, next generation televisions, drones and even a wireless connected toilet seat were just some of the creations that filled the city’s show floors.

But public policy, including state policy, was also center stage. With panels discussing such diverse issues as digital health, privacy and the industry’s voluntary efforts in recycling, the Show is something of a one stop show-and-tell for legislators to learn more about innovation and public policy. One interesting panel featured state governors discussing successful efforts in their states where innovation is concerned.

As Michigan Governor Rick Snyder explained during the panel, Michigan serves as an example of a state that lost its way but that has regained its footing. A leader in innovation for decades, the state rested on its innovation laurels instead of continually improving. But after the state got back on the right track with its massive tax reform, regulatory reform and balancing its budget, it has taken advantage of its history with the automobile industry to become a leader in modern mobility. While the state still struggles with attracting enough of the right educated and trained people, Michigan is again attracting and growing innovation businesses.

Nevada, as Governor Brian Sandoval described, is fully 84% federal land. But instead of being hamstrung by that negative, the state looked to the positive of having all of that open space. The state has now become a leader for drone testing which has led to growth of that industry there. In addition, taking advantage of all its sun, Nevada has attracted solar arrays to provide green energy which has enabled the state to attract those industries that seek such.

Combining this sort of policy input with a show floor full of cutting edge technologies is a powerful reminder of how robust the innovation economy can be when allowed to grow. The overall takeaway from the panels and the technology demonstrated during the Show was that government has to maintain an environment for innovation to flourish. In addition, government itself needs to get moving on improving, experimenting, even knowing that not every idea will work, but comforted knowing that this sort of experimentation is a role only they can fill in our nation.

Few other venues can provide this sort of industry wide, city spanning, show and tell for legislators. The Consumer Electronics Show is increasingly a peek at the very state of innovation across the states.

In Depth: Innovation

Whether improving processes, creating products or developing new ideas, the application of technology can enable real changes in how state government works, both in quality of services delivered to constituents, cost savings and quality of life. States have the opportunity in our national balance of government power, to address policy…

+ Innovation In Depth