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And the smart winners are...

The five winners had important things in common, including a focus on uncovering synergies and cost-efficiencies between departments

Birmingham, Alabama, shows how a mid-size city can lead the way
Birmingham, Alabama, shows how a mid-size city can lead the way

Birmingham, Cary, Las Vegas, Louisville/Jefferson County, and Commonwealth of Virginia have been named winners of Smart Cities Council’s 2018 readiness challenge grants.


The five US cities will receive mentoring as well as tailored products and services in a bid to accelerate their smart city initiatives.


“We’re so pleased to see the strides cities have made since we launched the challenge last year,” said Jennifer James, global director of the Smart Cities Council Readiness Programme. “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.”


“The five winners had three important things in common including a focus on uncovering synergies and cost-efficiencies between departments,” added Jesse Berst, chairman, Smart Cities Council.


“They also fostered coordinated collaboration between internal departments, external stakeholders and nearby regions. Finally, they exhibited a determination to include underserved and vulnerable populations.”


The 2018 readiness challenge grant winners are:

  • Birmingham, Alabama: the city will use the council’s readiness Roadmap to provide a collaborative framework for the many projects it has underway, including an open data portal, smart street lighting, community wi-fi, bus rapid transit, and a violence reduction initiative that uses data to spot problems early. “This grant from Smart Cities Council will accelerate our smart city partnership, which is focused on using technology and data to improve public safety and overall quality of life in Birmingham,” said mayor Randall Woodfin
  • Cary, North Carolina: the judges were impressed by Cary’s efforts on smart parking, mobility and street lighting, as well as the city’s efforts to create ‘destination centres’ in underserved neighbourhoods to encourage jobs and housing. Cary will use the council’s readiness workshop to further advance several of its projects, including ‘one Cary’. This initiative seeks to gain a 360-degree view of the city by creating a single core platform to promote data sharing between departments and with citizens
  • Las Vegas, Nevada: Las Vegas is hard at work on an open and adaptable public safety platform to pull in data from many sources for ‘collective analysis’. The city’s dedication to public safety also extends to traffic and pedestrian safety. They have three pilot projects underway using video analytics to identify potential problems. Las Vegas will leverage the council’s coaching and assistance to make its infrastructure smarter, towards its goal of becoming a fully connected smart city by 2025
  • Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky: the consolidated government of Louisville/Jefferson County has long been at the forefront of civic technology and understands that smart cities require smart infrastructure. The council will help it craft a collaborative approach to use smart technologies to address challenges in transportation, telecommunications and public safety. Louisville/Jefferson County is deploying 115 miles of new fibre optic cable so it can roll out smart city projects at scale throughout the region. Digital inclusion is also a priority – ensuring that vulnerable populations get access to broadband, computers and smartphones
  • Commonwealth of Virginia: the council believes that it is essential for states to take a ‘shared services’ approach to smart technologies, so each town does not have to reinvent the smart city wheel. Virginia’s smart communities working group embodies this – working hard to become a smart state government to achieve cost efficiencies and service improvements for the state itself while also lowering barriers for all Virginia communities. The council will apply its Readiness Programme to help Virginia create a framework for its multiple initiatives, including expanding broadband throughout the state; adopting interoperability standards; setting out a cybersecurity and privacy plan; and creating sustainable funding for smart projects.


The five challenge grant winners will receive a full year of expert, vendor-neutral mentoring plus an on-site readiness workshop custom-tailored to each community’s needs and priorities. The council will bring in some of the world’s most experienced experts from the private, philanthropic, academic and research sectors to help advise the winners.


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