A federal full-court press for smart cities IT

A federal full-court press for smart cities IT

The Obama Administration has launched a broad smart cities campaign, announcing $160 million in federal funding and more than 25 new public-private collaborations to help local communities use emerging technologies to reduce traffic congestion, fight crime, foster economic growth and improve the delivery of city services.

Programs and funding were announced on Sept. 14, and involve federal agencies, cities, universities, industry and cross-sector community collaborations.  The efforts were also showcased at a Sept. 14 "White House Smart Cities Forum" in Washington, D.C.

U.S.  CTO Megan Smith, in her remarks at the Sept. 14 forum, said an overarching goal is to make the goverment's job "more API, and less RFP" -- a reference to the collaborative and often-automated work done via application programming interfaces, and the rigid and bureaucratic requests for proposals that have traditionally driven most government IT efforts.   The announced initiatives include:

Federal agency efforts

The National Science Foundation is announcing over $35 million in funding for high-speed applications, cyber-physical systems, critical infrastructure resilience and next-generation health care solutions. It will also support academic-industry collaborations into smart services, Chicago’s Array of Things project and the Global City Teams challenge.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s new round of the Global City Teams Challenge will challenge teams of cities to set smart city goals and then work with innovators to develop, deploy and evaluate standards-based technologies.

The Department of Homeland Security will invest $50 million over five years to develop cutting-edge emergency response technologies for first responders and smart cities. DHS will work with NIST to leverage smart cities data, analytics and predictive modeling to increase operational efficiency and safety for responders.

The Department of Transportation is announcing over $40 million in new funding to spur the development of next-generation transportation systems, including the first wave of Connected Vehicle Pilots to address congestion midtown Manhattan and in downtown Tampa. It will also fund research on connected and autonomous vehicles as well as the integration of mobile devices and travel data.

The Department of Energy will invest almost $10 million through the creation of new SMART Mobility consortium that examines the nexus of energy and mobility for future transportation systems and supports self-configuring, self-commissioning and self-learning buildings. DOE also will work with the private sector to promote better access to building energy data, and offer a challenge to support city efforts to implement sensing, data sharing and data analytics to achieve city goals for reducing energy consumption. 

The Environmental Protection Agency is announcing new steps to help communities undertake innovative sensor-based approaches to improve data collection and analysis of environmental condition and risk as well as a new project to create a software module for scenario planning that helps communities plan for health impacts by evaluating the effects of change in the built environment on local public health.

The Census Bureau will expand the open-source CitySDK project and release an agile playbook to  enable teams of civic hackers to run lean workshops and build Smart City solutions, using open-source tools like CitySDK, Waffle.io, and Github.

City, university and community efforts

More than 20 city-university collaborations are launching the MetroLab Network with more than 60 Smart City projects in the next year. The Network will provide a platform upon which established and emerging city-university relationships can share successful projects, coordinate multi-city, multi-university research efforts and compete for research and project funding. 

Public-private collaborations

Envision America is issuing a challenge to America’s cities to become smarter by accelerating deployment of innovative technologies that tackle energy, water, waste and air challenges.

City Digital will launch pilots deploying a network of sensors in Chicago to gather data on green infrastructure and creating a virtual underground mapping platform to detect and monitor underground infrastructure.

The Dallas Innovation Alliance will focus on infrastructure, mobility and connected living in that city's West End district.

The Detroit Land Bank Authority will have help from an IBM Smarter City Challenge team to design a strategy for cost-efficient, sustainable removal, recycling and re-use of debris from abandoned and neglected properties. The project will also receive a special grant of Twitter data, which will provide analysis of historical and current social media data to help tackle the issue.

New York City will create a series of neighborhood innovation labs across the five boroughs to accelerate the testing and deployment of new smart city technologies. 

The Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, an effort launched earlier this year by mayors of 17 international cities across nine nations, will use Siemens’ City Performance Tool to evaluate how specific building, transport and energy technologies can help them achieve their environmental goals.

A San Francisco-area collaboration will work to create smarter, safer Levi’s Stadium and public transit system in advance of Super Bowl 50. For the first time, law enforcement, National Football League security, the San Francisco transit authority and other city leaders will have access to the same real-time security data in a consolidated visual platform.

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