Featuring Hardik Bhatt, leader of Amazon Web Services' smart cities and mobility business, and Dr. J. Derek Loftis, Assistant Research Scientist with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at the College of William & Mary, presenting Using Big Data for a Smart Stormwater System: Meeting Sea Level Rise Challenges in Virginia Beach.

View the speakers' biographies below.

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Hardik Bhatt

Hardik Bhatt is a business leader with tremendous acumen in both strategy and execution for large growth and transformations, moving seamlessly between the private and the public sectors. 

As leader of Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) smart cities and mobility business, Hardik is responsible for helping state and local governments become more efficient, competitive, and engaged with the use of cloud, data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence and machine learning.

In 2015, Governor Rauner recruited him as the Chief Digital Officer and Secretary of Innovation & Technology for the State of Illinois. In 2 years, Hardik brought Illinois from the bottom fourth to the top third in national digital rankings and pioneered Illinois’ Smart State and blockchain initiatives. 

Between 2010 and 2015, he led global business development for Cisco’s Smart Cities and IoT businesses, working in 40 global cities in 19 countries. 

Previously, Hardik was the CIO of the City of Chicago in Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration, and a consultant with Oracle and Tata Consultancy Services.

Hardik is an angel investor and a civic leader, serving on the boards of Fermi National Labs and Chicago Innovation.

Derek Loftis, Ph.D.

Dr. J. Derek Loftis is an Assistant Research Scientist working in the Center for Coastal Resources Management and the Virginia  Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). 

Dr. Loftis’ hydrodynamic modeling research at VIMS focuses on: (1) development of numerical simulations and flood forecasts for regions prone to flood damage, (2) validation of model accuracy using citizen science, remote sensing observations, and (3) engineering solutions to enhance adaptability to future flood events to protect human life and valuable infrastructural assets.

He teaches remote sensing and geographic information systems classes at the College of William & Mary, and is the project lead and a developer of the hydrodynamic model used in the NIST-funded StormSense Project in the Greater Hampton Roads Region of Tidewater Virginia, an inundation forecasting research initiative to enhance emergency preparedness for flooding resulting from storm surge, rain, and tides.

He graduated with a Ph.D. in Marine Science in 2014 from VIMS at the College of William & Mary upon completing his dissertation focusing on street-level flood forecasting in New York City during 2012 Hurricane Sandy.