AUSTIN, Texas — This week, hundreds of government agencies, companies, nonprofits and academic institutions have assembled for the 5th annual Smart Cities Connect Conference, held June 25-28 at the Austin Convention Center. One of the major supporters of the dialog is a federal government agency — the National Science Foundation (NSF).

And in an opening keynote, Erwin Gianchandani, deputy assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) for NSF, discussed how the agency is working with cities and advancing the greater gov tech movement.

1. Funding

In 2016 alone, NSF invested more than $35 million in funding for local government-focused initiatives ranging from US Ignite ($10 million) to the Smart and Connected Communities program ($8 million). These research dollars are used to support next-generation research, infrastructure and technology testing.

For agencies interesting in learning more, the research and funding areas are:

2. Community

Smart and Connected Communities (SCC) Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) US Ignite Smart and Connected Health (SCH) CISE Research Infrastructure (CRI) Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI) Critical Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Systems and Processes (CRISP) Partnerships for Innovation: Building Innovation Capacity (PFI:BIC) The SCC program is a major initiative designed to answer vital research questions and foster partnerships to improve the way cities function and citizens live. The NSF website specifies that outside of education and partnerships, the agency's aim is to catalyze:

3. Frameworks

new methods and technologies for leveraging data; advances in the modeling and design of complex sociotechnical systems; research in the dynamics, characteristics and behaviors of individuals and communities; and development of new methods and technologies that support education and workforce development. Early this year, the Smart Cities and Communities Task Force partnered with several other federal agencies to release the Smart Cities and Community Federal Strategic Plan Draft, a framework for catalyzing smart cities advancement at the federal level.

Gianchandani's keynote concluded with a call to action for cities — they should take a proactive approach in research and testing next-gen technologies by partnering with local universities to tap into their expertise, as well as participate in the work being done at the federal level through the Smart and Connected Communities program.

Agencies interesting in learning more can e-mail NSF directly at SCCquestions@nsf.gov.