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Smart Cities Council Announces Winners of 2018 Readiness Challenge Grants

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According to a recent announcement, five winners have been announced for the 2018 Readiness Challenge Grants from the Smart Cities Council. The winners are Birmingham, AL; Cary, NC; Las Vegas, NV; Louisville/Jefferson County, KY; and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Each entity will receive mentoring as well as tailored products and services to accelerate their smart city initiatives.

The four runners-up are Albuquerque, NM; Aurora, IL; Fairfax County, VA; and Los Angeles. All applicants will receive feedback and guidance from the council.

"We're so pleased to see the strides cities have made since we launched the Challenge last year," said Jennifer James, Global Director, Smart Cities Council Readiness Program, in a press release. "The entrants are knowledgeable and committed, and they have large ambitions. They are moving beyond the 'pilot phase' to deploy strategic at-scale programs that will generate lasting benefits."

Jesse Berst, chairman of the Smart Cities Council, said the five winners had three things in common:

  • Uncovering synergies and cost efficiencies between departments
  • Fostering coordinated collaboration between internal departments, external stakeholders, and nearby regions
  • Exhibited determination to include underserved and vulnerable populations

Louisville, which is in Jefferson County has been chosen by Google 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.

In Birmingham, AL social equity, economic competitiveness, and environmental sustainability are the goals for smart city efforts. A project database is being implemented to help city departments work together to share infrastructure, costs, and data.

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. The One Cary platform will share data among departments, provide better insights, and give citizens digital access to services and information.

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.

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.

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.

Puerto Rico was awarded a special humanitarian grant to help accelerate its hurricane recovery efforts.

Last year, the winners were: Austin, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Miami, FL; Philadelphia, PA; and Orlando, FL.


Ken Briodagh is a writer and editor with more than a decade of experience under his belt. He is in love with technology and if he had his druthers would beta test everything from shoe phones to flying cars.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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