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United States to continue support for Smart Cities

September 30, 2016

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The United States’ White House announced that it will inject more than $80 million in New Federal investment to further develop the Smart Cities Initiative. Besides the investment, the Government announced that the number of cities participating in the Initiative will double, reaching a total of 70.

Our analysis

Government support in the form of funding and a constructive dialogue with all players involved in the multi-stake Smart Cities project is an essential building block for a healthy development of the Smart Cities ecosystem. With a majority of United States (US) citizens living in urban environments, addressing the cities’ problems with the help of new technologies such as machine learning, data science, sensors, and autonomous vehicles is the correct way to bring significant results. The development of testbeds or pilot projects will help to find and improve effective solutions, which could later be expanded in reach and scale.  

The injection of more funds is a sign the government’s trust in the potential of Smart Cities Projects across the country. This announcement follows the Smart Cities Initiative which was launched by the government in September 2015. The initiative aimed to foster collaboration between cities, federal agencies, universities, and the private sector in order to develop and deploy new technologies which could help cities to become more inhabitable, cleaner, and more equitable.

The first Smart Cities Initiative consisted of $160 million of funds provided for Federal Research leveraging more than 25 technology collaborations to help communities tackle problems such as transports and services. The Smart Cities Initiative focused initially on four key strategies: creating test beds for the Internet of Things (IoT), driving collaboration with the civic tech movement while developing intercity collaboration, exploiting existing Federal Research Activity, and fostering international collaboration.

The new $80 million investment will help cities looking for solutions to their problems in various areas including climate, transportation, public safety, and the transformation of city services. For instance, $15 million will be given by the administration to help cities tackle energy and climate challenges. To this end the Department of Energy (DOE) has already signed up 1,800 buildings with data analytic tools that could reduce their energy footprint.

Regarding transportation, the administration announced $15 million in new grants and funding to foster the evolution of urban transportation. Among others, researchers in Chattanooga, testing how an entire urban network of connected and autonomous vehicles can work together to improve travel efficiency and safety even during harsh weather will benefit from the fund. Other $10 million will be given to fund the areas of public safety, resilience, and disaster response. An example of an initiative in this area is the support for the development of low-cost flood sensor-based tools in areas of Texas prone to floods by Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

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