The Smart Cities Council has expanded its 2018 Readiness Challenge Grant program to include communities in Canada and Mexico as well as the US. Cities, as well as counties, states, provinces, and regional authorities can apply for the grants. Last year, only cities could apply.

The five winning entities will receive a year’s worth of free mentoring, products, and services, as well as a custom-designed, on-site readiness workshop and membership in the Smart Cities Leadership Circle. The estimated in-kind value is $200,000 per winning entity.

“We are really eager for cities and all of these other entities just to complete the application, because we’ve heard over and over again, and this is one of the nice surprises from last year, that just completing the application was such a turning point for them because it forced the departments to collaborate and say what they wanted to do next. It was a deadline. It was a forcing function,” said Jesse Berst, Smart Cities Council chairman.

Austin, TX; Indianapolis; Miami, FL; Orlando, FL; and Philadelphia each won a grant in 2017, which was the inaugural year of the program.

SEE: Five cities win the Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge Grant (TechRepublic)

Each applicant is required to provide a letter from the city’s mayor, so the council knows there is top-down support. “We require them to have certain stakeholders involved, and this year if they get a letter of support from their utility, they get extra points. So, whether or not they win, they’re set up to move forward. We require them to do some prioritization, and do some rank ordering,” Berst said.

A minimum population of 100,000 is required for applicants, but this can be combined with other governmental entities to reach that threshold.

The 2017 grant program provided valuable information to the Smart Cities Council to help it see where US cities are at in the smart city realm and where they want to go.

“We believe, a year later, we’re going to see a completely different set of perspectives that cities will have. This year we are opening it up to cities in Canada and Mexico, as well as, other kinds of local governments. So really, any kind of entity can be in the lead. Last year it had to be a city. This year is can be something like a regional transit authority, a court authority, and it can also be a state or a province. We’re seeing a lot of activity at the state level in the United States and we’re hoping that states will also consider this,” Berst said.

Application details are available online. The deadline to apply is December 15, 2017.

Each of the winning cities will receive the following benefits:

  • Qualcomm will donate an Inspired by Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab, including career materials, circuit boards and teaching resources to host a hands-on STEM lab.
  • SYNEXXUS will supply control nodes, management software and support for a pilot network of up to 48 smart street lights.
  • IES will create a Community Information Mode (CIM) – a data rich, 3D geospatial database to store, represent, and manage virtual 3D city models.
  • IBI Group will work with the Smart Cities Council to produce a Readiness Roadmap using the insights generated during the Readiness Workshop.
  • Edison Electric Institute (EEI) will support the efforts of electric companies to collaborate with cities on successful applications and follow up activities.
  • Battelle will provide management and technical advisory services to selected cities as they develop strategy, technology, and planning roadmaps.
  • Itron and Sensus will sponsor the overall program and contribute their expertise in workshops and mentoring sessions throughout the year.
  • CompTIA will offer 50 free certification vouchers, CertMaster test prep, a profile in its magazine and Cyberstates report, and a role at its annual conference.

Three takeaways for TechRepublic readers:

  1. The Smart Cities Council deadline for 2018 Readiness Challenge grants is December 15, 2017.
  2. Last year, only cities could apply. Now, states, counties, provinces, and regional authorities can apply throughout North America, including Mexico and Canada.
  3. The five winning entities will each receive products and support valued at $200,000.

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