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White House Announces $80 Million in New Smart Cities Investment

By Ken Briodagh September 26, 2016

It is Smart Cities Week here in the U.S. and to kick it off, the White House this morning announced $80 million new federal dollars to go toward its Smart Cities Initiative, which launched a year ago.

“If we can reconceive of our government so that the interactions and the interplay between private sector, nonprofits, and government are opened up, and we use technology, data, social media in order to join forces around problems, then there’s no problem that we face in this country that is not soluble.” said President Barack Obama in a White House fact sheet released September 26.

The Smart Cities Initiative was designed to make it easier for cities, Federal agencies, universities, and the private sector to work together to research, develop, deploy, and test new technologies that can help make our cities more inhabitable, cleaner, and more equitable, including the IoT.

Today, the Administration expanded the initiative, with the additional investments and a doubling of the number of participating cities and communities. There are now more than 70 municipalities taking part, including the first international partnership, Adelaide in South Australia. These new investments and collaborations are designed will help cities in the following key technological arenas:

Climate: There will be almost $15 million in new funding and two new coalitions to help cities and communities tackle energy and climate challenges. One Department of Energy campaign has already signed up 1,800 buildings representing 49 million square feet with data analytics tools that could reduce their energy footprint by 8 percent, on average.

Transportation: The Administration is announcing more than $15 million in new grants and planned funding to evolve urban Smart Transportation, including National Science Foundation funding for researchers in Chattanooga to test, for the first time, how an entire urban network of connected and autonomous vehicles can automatically cooperate to improve travel efficiency and operate safely during severe weather events.

Public Safety: The Administration is announcing more than $10 million in new grants and planned funding for public safety, resilience, and disaster response. The Department of Homeland Security is funding the development of low-cost flood sensor-based tools in flood-prone areas of Texas, where predictive analytics will give first responders and local officials new capability to issue alerts and warnings, and the ability to respond more rapidly to save lives when a flood strikes.

The Smart Cities Initiative is informed by and builds on the work of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), including its Technology and the Future of Cities report. In the report, PCAST identified several actions that the Federal Government can take to help cities leverage technology, and which the initiative is already beginning to implement.

Smart City Challenge is one of the key projects supported by the Initiative over the last year. In June, the Department of Transportation selected Columbus, Ohio to receive $40 million to prototype the future of Smart Urban Transportation, out of 78 cities that accepted its Smart City Challenge. The city’s plan, which will also leverage over $100 million in private resources, involves piloting new technologies, from connected vehicle technology that improves traffic flow and safety to data-driven efforts to improve public transportation access and health care outcomes to electric self-driving shuttles that will create new transportation options for underserved neighborhoods.

Today’s announcements include huge new grants and investments for Smart City infrastructure and innovation projects. One such will be a flood-warning pilot project in several Maryland cities that will integrate sensor data and social media posts to provide advance notice of flash floods.

Other planned expenditures will include: $33 million in new awards under the Smart & Connected Communities program to expand research and build on a number of high-risk, high-reward Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research toward enhancing understanding and design of future cities and communities; $10 million to develop and scale next-generation Internet applications and technologies through the US Ignite program, supporting access to gigabit-enabled networks; $7 million in new Partnerships for Innovation: Building Innovation Capacity projects that involve academic-industry collaborations to translate breakthrough discoveries into emerging technologies related to smart communities, ranging from smart buildings to sensor networks that improve transportation efficiency; $4 million in new Cyber-Physical Systems  for smart cities and the IoT, enabling connection of physical devices at scale to the digital; $2 million in new “Spokes” that extend the Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs and $1.4 million in new Big Data research; $1.5 million in Smart and Connected Health research; $1 million for researchers to participate in the 2016 NIST Global City Teams Challenge; and $1 million in research and capacity-building awards supporting lifelong learning.

This is only the beginning of the new, and long-overdue, U.S. investment in IoT and Smart Cities. For the full rundown of today’s news, click here to go to the White House Press Site




Edited by Alicia Young

Editorial Director

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