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What can federal agencies do for smart cities?

What: “Connecting and Securing Communities: a guide for Federal Agencies Supporting Research, Development, Demonstration, and Deployment of Technology for Smart Cities and Communities,” a new report from the National Science and Technology Council

Why: As localities begin to invest in technology-laden smart city projects, they often depend on federal funding. This report provides guidance to federal agencies on how to accelerate these kinds of projects by coordinating activity and aligning their priorities with those of cities.

Findings: Smart city initiatives typically cross traditional boundaries. Making a city safer or more livable, for example, involves transportation, healthcare and public safety policies, collaboration between the public and private sectors as well as entrepreneurs and academic researchers. The "convening power" of the federal government can encourage new partnerships across agencies, sectors and stakeholders and span multiple technology-readiness levels.

To support smart city efforts that facilitate job growth and economic prosperity, the report outlines four approaches:

  • Promote fundamental, iterative R&D in areas such as big data, analytics, cybersecurity and 5G and help move smart city innovations to adoption.

  • Facilitate local efforts for secure and resilient infrastructure, systems and services by helping communities leverage legacy infrastructure, design and deploy new services, build future capacity and enable collaboration.

  • Enable advances through data and knowledge sharing, best practices and collaboration by advancing secure, privacy-preserving data sharing and interoperability, facilitating replication and scaling and fostering global collaboration.

  • Enable evaluation of progress and long-term growth of smart cities/communities by developing standards, metrics, and economic models for evaluation that can be easily adapted at the local level and by ensuring a talent pipeline.

Verbatim: "Coordinating efforts across Federal agencies will help accelerate the development of smart city/community solutions that maximize the value of investments, optimize benefits to residents, and improve the way infrastructure is designed, built, and maintained.

Read the full report here.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a reporter/producer at GCN.

Before joining GCN, Leonard worked as a local reporter for The Smithfield Times in southeastern Virginia. In his time there he wrote about town council meetings, local crime and what to do if a beaver dam floods your back yard. Over the last few years, he has spent time at The Commonwealth Times, The Denver Post and WTVR-CBS 6. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received the faculty award for print and online journalism.

Leonard can be contacted at or follow him on Twitter @Matt_Lnrd.

Click here for previous articles by Leonard.

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