Nine US regions were announced as finalists for the 2018 Readiness Challenge Grants from the Smart Cities Council, and the five winners will be announced in early March. The winning cities will use the workshops, products and services to bolster initiatives in connected infrastructure, open data platforms, Internet of Things (IoT), public Wi-Fi, sustainability, and more.
In addition, Puerto Rico is being awarded a special grant to accelerate its hurricane recovery efforts.
"We expanded our program to offer early support to Puerto Rico based on their urgent need to rebuild," said Smart Cities Council Chairman Jesse Berst. "We were very impressed with their application, which focused on 'building back better' after last year's devastating hurricane."
The goal is that Puerto Rico would replace damaged infrastructure with smart technology, improving efficiency. Puerto Rico is also seeking to develop a centralized program for sustainable development. In March, the Smart Cities Council will hold a workshop in Puerto Rico to help government officials develop a smart city roadmap.
Here are the nine cities, counties, and states that are finalists for the 2018 Readiness Challenge Grants:
- Louisville and Jefferson County, KY — Louisville, which is in Jefferson County, is on the cusp of great things, with Google choosing this city on the Ohio River as the place to launch its Google Fiber 2.0 infrastructure reboot. Louisville was also one of the first cities to appoint a chief innovation officer and since 2011, its LouiStat program has worked to provide the entire county with data-driven decision making. It is also home to the CNET smart apartment, where CNET and TechRepublic test out smart home and office technology.
- Albuquerque, NM — Albuquerque has a goal of creating a single, one-stop portal for electronic payments and business interactions. City officials also hope to reduce crime by using the latest crime-fighting technology within the police department.
- Los Angeles, CA — LA is developing a cross-departmental, citywide technology plan to drive smart city innovations throughout the city. For instance, many of its resources are built to be accessible to all departments and, in some cases, to all citizens.
- Aurora, IL — There are numerous digital tools for citizen engagement in Aurora and the city is planning to build an open data portal.
- Birmingham, AL — Social equity, economic competitiveness, and environmental sustainability are among the goals of Birmingham's smart city efforts. A project database is being implemented to help city departments work together to share infrastructure, costs, and data.
- Fairfax County, VA — Fairfax County is working on a countywide smart city strategy to eliminate silos. The county has already created cross-departmental teams to achieve goals and working on uniting the public, private, philanthropic, and academic sectors.
- Las Vegas, NV — Las Vegas is committed to being a model smart city and is developing detailed plans to build a core platform, to attract capital and talent, and to implement projects that solve social and environmental problems. In particular, the city is working on a municipal fiber network as well as an Innovation Lab to support technology pioneers.
- Cary, NC — Initiatives are already underway in Cary with the Garage for Innovation, the Innovation Analytics Lab, the Simulated Smart City Project, and the One Cary platform. That platform will share data among departments, provide better insights, and give citizens digital access to services and information.
- Virginia — The state of Virginia has formed a smart cities working group to provide resources, support and tools for communities that want to become smart and sustainable. One initiative seeks to combine federal, state, city, and private data into a single analytic framework, which would be an open innovation platform that all cities can access, with the state providing technical support, best practices, and easy onboarding.
"We are thrilled to see such a diverse set of candidates committed to making their communities more livable, workable, and sustainable," Berst said. "They have already made substantial progress in developing their visions, and we are excited about working hands-on with them to bring those visions to life."
The five winning entities will receive a year's worth of free mentoring, products, and services, as well as a custom-designed, on-site readiness workshop and membership in the Smart Cities Leadership Circle. The estimated in-kind value is $200,000 per winning entity.
Last year, as reported by TechRepublic, Austin, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Miami, FL; Philadelphia, PA; and Orlando, FL were the five grant winners during the program's inaugural year.