Innovation

Five cities win the Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge Grant

There were 133 cities vying for one of five spots as part of a grant program from the Smart Cities Council. Find out the winning cities.

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Image: iStock/chombosan

Austin, Indianapolis, Miami, Orlando, and Philadelphia are the five winners of the Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge Grant program. Each city will receive a tailored readiness workshop to help them develop a roadmap for applying smart technologies to further innovation, inclusion, and investment within their cities.

The cities will also win supporting products and services from members of the council, including Ameresco, AT&T, CH2M, CompTIA, Dow Building and Construction, IDC, Qualcomm, Sensus, Telit, TM Forum, and Transdev.

"Breaking down the departmental silos is a key challenge in developing a smarter city. Each of the winning cities has demonstrated the ability to work across departments to solve problems," said Smart Cities Council Chairman Jesse Berst. "Our coalition of world-class experts looks forward to working with each of these enterprising cities to help them make smart use of technology to become more livable, workable, sustainable, and resilient."

SEE: Smart cities: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)

Here are more details about each winning city's plans to become smarter.

Austin wants to develop strategies for underserved populations to participate in designing solutions for mobility needs, affordable housing, and economic development. "This will help Austin use new technologies to meet old challenges of mobility and affordability," said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. "Winning the Smart Cities Council Challenge Grant puts us that much closer to creating a comprehensive and inclusive strategy to use technology in a way that benefits communities that are usually left behind."

Indianapolis and Marion County will strengthen emerging initiatives in smart utilities and transportation. Marion County recently approved development of the first electric bus rapid transit (e-BRT) system in the country and is also moving forward with 16 Tech, which is a comprehensive IoT hub for citywide digital infrastructure. "Indianapolis' culture of innovation and rapidly expanding tech industry provide strategic advantages to our smart city planning, specifically in the areas of water, energy, and transportation," said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.

Miami will use smart technologies to enhance urban resilience. Miami is already experiencing the effects of climate change, including frequent tidal floods, so it is planning a Sea-Level Rise Pilot Program that will use geographic information system (GIS) data across departments, along with 3-D modeling, waterfront sensors, and LIDAR, which is Light Detection and Ranging, to provide real-time alerts and inform planning efforts.

Orlando and Orange County want to develop a comprehensive smart city plan that integrates multiple city departments and regional stakeholders. Orlando wants to showcase a range of smart transportation solutions for visitors while improving safety and reducing congestion. The city is also working to integrate sensors and advanced communications systems into its public safety programs.

Philadelphia will use the program to facilitate collaboration for building a regional smart cities ecosystem. The process of applying for the grant has already helped to bring city departments together, causing them to realize they were working on individual solutions to common problems. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said, "We have been building a coalition of city, community, business, and educational institutions. They are all enthused and ready to help with smart city projects focused on the built environment, telecommunications, and basic public services like water. We know the technology behind us is important for our citizens and businesses alike, and the expertise that the Smart Cities Council brings will help us realize those opportunities."

The grant program was open to US cities with populations of at least 100,000, although neighboring cities could pool together to meet the population threshold. There were 133 cities that entered the challenge, with ten finalists chosen. The five finalists that did not win were the cities of Birmingham, Ala.; Chula Vista, Calif.; Jersey City, NJ; Newport News, Vir.; and Providence, RI.

The top 3 takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Austin, Indianapolis, Miami, Orlando, and Philadelphia are the five winners of the Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge Grant program.
  2. Breaking down the departmental silos is a key challenge in developing a smarter city.
  3. There were 133 cities that applied for the grant program.

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About Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including Peo...

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