Meet the 2019 Smart Cities Readiness Challenge winners

Wed, 2019-04-17 09:17 -- Kevin Ebi

The Smart Cities Council has named the winners of its annual Smart Cities Readiness Challenge, honoring five communities across North American for ambitious smart cities visions that are impactful, collaborative, inclusive and sustainable.

The winning communities are: Baltimore; Edmonton; Montgomery; Racine, WI; and Cleantech San Diego. This was the third year for the annual competition in North America, which drew more than 100 applications. Thirty-six communities delivered substantial applications that were eligible for full consideration.

“Our 2019 Readiness Challenge was our best ever by several measures,” said Kevin Ebi, Director of the Smart Cities Council’s Readiness Program in North America. “Not only did we see record participation from communities, but the level of maturity demonstrated by them was nothing short of phenomenal.”

To be eligible for full consideration, an applicant had to provide a vision for at least three smart cities projects that would make a difference in the lives of their residents. Some applicants provided as many as 15. In all, the Readiness Challenge judges had more than 200 projects to review.

Winning communities receive a year-long Readiness Program, which includes a Readiness Workshop in their community. They receive coaching and mentoring from the Council and its network of smart cities experts to help them accelerate and magnify the impact of their initiatives.

The 2019 Smart Cities Readiness Challenge delivered a number of firsts. Edmonton was the first Canadian city to win the North American Challenge. Cleantech San Diego was the first regional entity. And Racine, with a population of just under 80,000, was the smallest winner in the history of the Challenge.

In more detail, here are some highlights of the winning applications:

Baltimore has truly embraced a collaborative spirit to advance its vision by establishing a smart cities committee that includes a wide range of city staff but also has broad participation from the community and the tech ecosystem. Its data-driven, collaborative efforts have already yielded results to improve the quality of life for city residents and now it plans to continue that approach to better protect residents from flooding, address the opioid crisis and eliminate the digital divide.

Edmonton has already delivered substantial value for its residents through the design of programs like You Can Benefit, which helps citizens find government services, and multi-stakeholder projects like their Open Data Initiative. Their world-class team is helping Canada’s fifth-largest city scale up their existing Smart City ecosystem, joining with neighboring jurisdictions, universities and community groups to deliver a bigger regional impact by leveraging technology and innovation.

Montgomery, AL, is advancing its smart cities vision through strategic partnerships, building relationships with the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Alabama Power Company and others. It’s using A.I. technology to proactively assess road conditions, replacing a time-consuming, labor-intensive process, and partnering with schools, community centers and others to extend Wi-Fi access to all students.

Racine, WI, is a post-industrial city poised for an economic comeback. In the midst of substantial redevelopment initiatives, it plans to turn its community into a smart cities laboratory that will serve as a showcase for other cities in similar situations. Among its numerous partners is Foxconn Technology Group, a company that plans to invest billions in the region, including an Innovation Center and related facilities in the City’s downtown.

Cleantech San Diego is convening multiple cities, the port, airport, and regional planning experts from across San Diego County to approach smart cities efforts on a regional scale. Through sharing data and best practices and collaborative planning, entities will work together to develop a regional smart cities action plan that, among other things, will coordinate and deploy smart traffic signals and support the implementation of climate action plans.

Ten Readiness Challenge finalists were honored at Smart Cities Week San Diego. In addition to the five winners, the finalists were: Dallas; Jersey City, NJ; Palm Coast, FL; North Florida Smart Region Coalition; and the U.S./Mexico Smart Towns Consortium.