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Council launches annual readiness challenge

The annual programme is reported to have helped a dozen cities and 2018 winners included Birmingham, Alabama, Cary, North Carolina and Las Vegas

Five winners will be selected for the grants in March 2019
Five winners will be selected for the grants in March 2019

The Smart Cities Council is inviting applications for its 2019 North American Readiness Challenge which aims to help cities accelerate their smart initiatives.


Now in its third year, the readiness challenge offers communities a range of interactive workshops, mentoring and digital tools that help them develop their smart cities plans, build community support and strengthen their projects to deliver more widespread and inclusive results.


To date the annual programme is reported to have helped nearly a dozen cities and states to advance their smart cities initiatives.


Smart Cities Project Activator


New for 2019, all applicants will get free year-long access to the Smart Cities Project Activator, an online portal that helps them collaborate with a wide array of stakeholders to build consensus and make it easier to scope and fund their projects.


The 2019 winners will also receive consultation about how to make their projects more financeable, as well as connections to funding and financing organisations.


Government entities that are eligible to apply include cities, counties, states, provinces, “mini-cities” (stadiums, campuses, bases) and regional authorities (transit, ports, airports) in the US Canada and Mexico. Utility, university and non-profit-led smart city consortiums with strong community involvement are also eligible.

"We’ll also be helping winners to bridge their budget gaps with financing and funding contacts and education"

A total of five winners will be selected in March 2019. Entrants will be judged not on their previous smart city work, but on the quality of the programmes and projects they wish to implement next. The council seeks projects that are impactful (help many people), cross-cutting (involve multiple departments), inclusive and sustainable.


The five winning jurisdictions will receive a full year of benefits, including:

  • Access to the Smart Cities Project Activator, an online portal to develop and refine smart cities projects and build consensus
  • An in-city readiness workshop tailored to their specific needs, delivered by top smart city experts from the Council and its member companies
  • A customised “readiness roadmap” of workshop outcomes suitable to share with citizens and city staff
  • Project financing consultation and connections to financing and funding organisations
  • Regular planning and progress calls with experts from the council and its member companies
  • Optional follow-on workshops to scope specific projects or to understand specific technologies such as 5G, autonomous vehicles or artificial intelligence
  • National publicity via the council’s promotional efforts.

“We are thrilled to bring smart cities resources and expertise to even more winning communities in 2019, highlighted by Readiness Workshops with elected officials, city staff, civic leaders and other stakeholders," said Philip Bane, managing director of the Smart Cities Council.


“And now we’ll also be helping winners to bridge their budget gaps with financing and funding contacts and education. Plus, we will be equipping all applicants with Smart Cities Project Activator, which they can use year-round to plan, manage projects, align stakeholders and access best practices.”


In 2018, the winners were: Birmingham, Alabama; Cary, North Carolina; Las Vegas, Nevada; Louisville-Jefferson County, Kentucky; the state of Virginia; and the territory of Puerto Rico.


The application deadline is 18 January 2019.


Information about the programme and the online application is available at: North American Readiness Challenge.


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