white houseThe Obama administration is putting some serious resources into the smart city concept, announcing yesterday a wide range of initiatives spanning multiple federal agencies and also enlisting individual cities and universities and the private sector. According to a fact sheet provided by the White House, the total government investment comes to $160 million aimed at tackling “key challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate and improving the delivery of city services.”

The fact sheet also offers a definition of the smart city: “communities that are building an infrastructure to continuously improve the collection, aggregation and use of data to improve the life of their residents – by harnessing the growing data revolution, low-cost sensors and research collaborations, and doing so securely to protect safety and privacy.” 

Obama Smart City Initiatives
Among the initiatives announced are:

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  • More than $35 million in Smart Cities grants from the National Science Foundation, with further investment planned for 2016. The funding will go toward a variety of programs, including $11.5 million in new awards to US Ignite and the Mozilla Foundation to create “Living Lab” smart communities
  • A $5 million investment by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Smart Cities in 2016 and a new round of the Global City Teams Challenge
  • The Department of Homeland Security will invest $50 million over five years to develop advanced emergency response technologies
  • The Department of Transportation will have $40 million in new funding for advanced transportation development
  • The Department of Energy will invest almost $10 million to enhanced the energy efficiency of smart cities and lower emissions
  • The Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration will Invest $10 million in its Regional Innovation Strategies funding opportunity
  • The Environmental Protection Agency will offer up to $4.5 million in new grant funding for data-based pollution control
  • The U.S. Census Bureau will expand the open source CitySDK project, which makes key data available to communities and civic innovators

Non-Government Participants
On the private sector side, IBM will provide resources for the Global City Teams Challenge, while AT&T will support Internet of Things and Smart Cities testbeds in the U.S. and globally.

Meanwhile Siemens USA will make its City Performance Tool available to the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, a global initiative that aims to use data to achieve environmental goals.

The fact sheet also calls out Smart City steps being taken by cities, universities and others, including MetroLab Network, a $1 million initiative funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to leverage university expertise to create a platform for city-university partners to share successful projects, coordinate research efforts and pursue funding opportunities. More than 20 city-university collaborations are on tap.

Another initiative is Envision America, a new nationwide non-profit that will conduct a competition aimed at accelerating the use of smart city technology.

Details about the smart city initiatives announced yesterday can be found in the White House fact sheet. 

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