Key Steps in Accelerating the “Smart Cities” Movement Forward

Jesse Remillard for Zondits, September 29, 2015. Image credit: Unsplash

On September 14, 2015, the White House administration released a fact sheet on its “Smart Cities” initiative, which will invest more than $160 million towards the goal of improving the sustainability of participating US cities. These Smart Cities will look for ways to leverage the increasing availability of Internet, wireless sensors, and software to overcome modern infrastructure and urban challenges.

Some key steps were released in the fact sheet, including building a research infrastructure for Smart Cities, unlocking new solutions for national priorities, and supporting multi-city collaborations. Some of the end uses for the funding described in those key steps are as follows:

  • The National Science Foundation will distribute $35 million to various non-profits and universities, each with specific goals to create tools or prototypes that further the Smart Cities movement.
  • The Department of Homeland Security will invest $50 million over 5 years to develop cutting-edge emergency response technologies that will allow first responders to leverage information networks during responses to natural disasters.
  • The Department of Energy will invest nearly $10 million to support the emergence of smart transportation and building technologies.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology will invest $5 million to foster collaborations between communities and industry on the capabilities of networks of connected devices, also called the Internet of Things.

While the possibilities of Smart Cities are still relatively unknown at this point, more than 20 cities have enrolled, and the US is in a position to be a global leader on the topic. The Smart Cities initiative is certainly a strong step in that direction.

FACT SHEET: Administration Announces New “Smart Cities” Initiative to Help Communities Tackle Local Challenges and Improve City Services

White House, September 14, 2015

“Every community is different, with different needs and different approaches.  But communities that are making the most progress on these issues have some things in common.  They don’t look for a single silver bullet; instead they bring together local government and nonprofits and businesses and teachers and parents around a shared goal.” – President Barack Obama

Today, the Administration is announcing a new “Smart Cities” Initiative that will invest over $160 million in federal research and leverage more than 25 new technology collaborations to help local communities tackle key challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate, and improving the delivery of city services. The new initiative is part of this Administration’s overall commitment to target federal resources to meet local needs and support community-led solutions.

Over the past six years, the Administration has pursued a place-based approach to working with communities as they tackle a wide range of challenges, from investing in infrastructure and filling open technology jobs to bolstering community policing. Advances in science and technology have the potential to accelerate these efforts. An emerging community of civic leaders, data scientists, technologists, and companies are joining forces to build “Smart Cities” – communities that are building an infrastructure to continuously improve the collection, aggregation, and use of data to improve the life of their residents – by harnessing the growing data revolution, low-cost sensors, and research collaborations, and doing so securely to protect safety and privacy.

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