smart city (jamesteohart/

Legislation proposes restarting the Smart Cities Challenge

To spur adoption of smart city technologies, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) has introduced legislation to renew and expand the Department of Transportation’s 2015 Smart Cities Challenge.

The Smart Technologies for Accessible and Resilient Transportation (START) Act aims to promote the deployment of innovative technologies by providing assistance to local governments considering transportation solutions that improve access, equity and data security while reducing traffic congestion, costs and carbon emissions.

According to the bill, the Department of Transportation, among other federal agencies, will be responsible for reviving and designing a new Smart Cities Challenge that would award annual grants to communities that integrate advanced technologies into city planning initiatives and demonstrate ways they can mitigate transportation challenges and improve safety and sustainability. Grants range from $5 million to $40 million, with a $250 million cap for fiscal years 2022 through 2025.

Smaller grants will be available for those communities researching the benefits of smart transportation solutions. State and local governments, transit agencies and nonprofits would all be eligible to apply for a grant through the START Act.

In addition to funding state and local governments smart city programs, the START Act would create a resource center that to help communities develop and implement intelligent transportation systems or smart city programs. The center will also be feature a collection of smart city transportation best practices.

The Transportation Department’s original Smart Cities Challenge was instrumental in generating interest for smart transit initiatives. Columbus, Ohio, the winner of the contest, was awarded more than $50 million in funding from private and public partners. It used the funding to test connected vehicles, event parking management, mobility assistance, mulitmodal trip planning and build the Smart Columbus Operating System, an open, secure data platform for solving complex urban challenges.

“My legislation will provide unprecedented funding assistance to diverse, underprivileged communities which will translate into lives saved, fewer crime incidents, shorter commutes, a reduced health burden, and carbon emissions averted,” Clarke said. “Moreover, the START Act will ensure the federal government’s role in supporting our Smart City efforts as we ready for the challenges of the coming decades.”

About the Author

Shourjya Mookerjee is an associate editor for GCN and FCW. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, and has written for Vox Media, Fandom and a number of capital-area news outlets. He can be reached at [email protected] – or you can find him ranting about sports, cinematography and the importance of local journalism on Twitter @byShourjya.


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