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Meet our Readiness Challenge Grant winners

Submitted by scc staff on February 8, 2017

Breaking down the departmental silos is a key challenge in developing a smarter city. Each of the five cities that we’ve selected for our first-ever Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge Grants has made great strides in doing that.

Below, you’ll learn more about our five winning cities — Austin, Indianapolis, Miami, Orlando and Philadelphia — but the important thing to keep in mind is that any transformation begins with bringing everyone in your city together, working toward a common vision.

We’ll be working hands-on with each of our five winning cities this year, helping them take the next steps to improving the livability, workability, sustainability and resilience of their communities. Several of our partners are also supporting this effort by contributing technology and services.

But this effort isn’t just about our five winning cities. We’ll be sharing the results of our work with you as we go to help you shape your own smart cities initiatives. I want to personally invite you to attend Smart Cities Week Silicon Valley in Santa Clara, CA, May 8-10, where you’ll be able to hear first-hand from these leading cities. And from many other cities that have learned ways to use smart technologies to boost innovation, inclusion and investment.  — Jesse Berst

Austin will use its Readiness Workshop to design strategies and solutions for affordable housing for underserved populations, mobility and economic development issues that have been heightened by Austin’s rapid growth, booming tech sector and attractive quality of life. The city is concentrating its efforts on reaching people who could benefit from a government that’s more responsive to their needs, but rarely take part in traditional forms of civic engagement. “This will help Austin use new technologies to meet old challenges of mobility and affordability,” said Mayor Steve Adler. “Winning the Smart Cities Council Challenge Grant puts us that much closer to creating a comprehensive and inclusive strategy to use technology in a way that benefits communities that are usually left behind.”

Indianapolis and Marion County will strengthen emerging initiatives in smart utilities and transportation. After a large delegation attended Smart Cities Week in 2016, Indianapolis formed a working group of ecosystem partners to assess smart city capabilities and guide a long-term vision that integrates with the city’s future planning. Marion County recently approved development of the first electric bus rapid transit (e-BRT) system in the country and is also moving forward with 16 Tech – a comprehensive IoT hub that will pioneer citywide digital infrastructure. “Indianapolis' culture of innovation and rapidly expanding tech industry provide strategic advantages to our smart city planning, specifically in the areas of water, energy and transportation,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. ”I am proud to see Indianapolis recognized as a national example of the potential for these technologies to improve local neighborhoods.”

Miami will demonstrate the value of smart technologies to enhance urban resilience. As a coastal city with strong geographical growth constraints, Miami is already experiencing the effects of climate change, including frequent tidal floods. The city is planning a Sea-Level Rise Pilot Program that will use geographic information system (GIS) data across departments along with 3-D modeling, waterfront sensors and LIDAR to provide real-time alerts and inform planning efforts. “We’re deeply committed to strengthening innovation and resilience at the City of Miami,” said Chief Innovation Officer Mike Sarasti. “This work alongside the Smart Cities Council will help us foster openness and the community collaboration needed to achieve smarter solutions. It’s an invaluable partnership as we strive to meet the city’s most pressing challenges.”

Orlando and Orange County will receive help to develop a comprehensive smart city plan that fully integrates multiple city departments and regional stakeholders. As a global tourist destination, Orlando hopes to showcase a range of smart transportation solutions that can enhance the visitor experience while improving safety and reducing congestion. The city is also working to integrate sensors and advanced communications systems into its public safety programs. “The City of Orlando is excited about this opportunity to work together with the Smart Cities Council and our Central Florida community to build out a unique program that will further improve the lives of our residents and visitors,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “Through access to international industry experts, new data and communication technologies, the challenge will continue to ensure Orlando is a more intelligent, interconnected and efficient city.”

Philadelphia will get help facilitating collaboration and building a regional smart cities ecosystem. The process of applying for the grant has already helped to bring city departments together, causing them to realize they were working on individual solutions to common problems. “Philadelphia, both in the public and private sectors, is dedicated to evolving into a smart city and we are honored that the Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge Grant recognizes our goals,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “We have been building a coalition of city, community, business and educational institutions. They are all enthused and ready to help with smart city projects focused on the built environment, telecommunications and basic public services like water. We know the technology behind us is important for our citizens and businesses alike, and the expertise that the Smart Cities Council brings will help us realize those opportunities.”