A federal full-court press for smart cities IT

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How federal governments can nurture smart city growth

What: “How National Governments Can Help Smart Cities Succeed,” a report by the Center for Data Innovation.

Why: As cities begin embracing smart technology, national governments can help address funding and interoperability issues.

Findings: The federal government will play an important role in the adoption of smart city technology by helping cities with funding, regulations and standards as well as encouraging regional and nationwide smart city initiatives rather than urban islands of advanced technology.

National governments can be particularly helpful in addressing the risk associated with adopting new technology, focusing national interest on smart infrastructure, encouraging data interoperability among smart cities, building communities of practice and the promoting technology equality across communities.

To lessen cities' risk of deploying new technologies, national governments can fund research to improve technology and alleviate cybersecurity concerns and pilot projects to showcase successful use cases and applications. Federal funds also could help create a showcase for how multiple technologies can work together rather than the “disparate” implementation seen in many cities.

A city’s focus when it comes to infrastructure is typically not on “smart” projects, but on projects like aging bridges and sidewalks, CDI wrote.  The federal government can control infrastructure priorities with its purse strings. A portion of infrastructure spend in the federal budget should be set aside for technology-driven hybrid infrastructure projects, CDI suggested.

Many of the predicted benefits of smart cities will come from a pool of shared data. Most cities,  however, are not equipped to develop interoperable systems that span local and even national boundaries. But the federal government can use its regulatory power to set policies and standards for smart technologies that will allow for easy data sharing across borders, CDI said.

To help smart cities share their insights and best practices national governments can create or encourage standards for how knowledge can be shared, including common performance metrics. Governments can also foster creation of knowledge sharing communities made up of cities, academics and others.

Already economically challenged areas must not be left even further behind as smart city projects are considered, as they can also benefit from technological advancement, CDI wrote. National governments can educate cities on the “equitable distribution” of technologies and fund projects that target underserved communities, CDI suggested.

Read the full report here.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a former reporter for GCN.

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