Smart Cities Readiness Challenge Grant Winners Announced

Four cities and the state of Virginia were named as 2018 Smart Cities Readiness Challenge Grant winners.

by / March 8, 2018
Smart cities projects focusing on video analytics, community Wi-Fi, fiber-optic connectivity and more will get an extra boost from the Smart Cities Council.
Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky.; Birmingham, Ala.; Cary, N.C.; Las Vegas and the state of Virginia have been selected as the 2018 Smart Cities Readiness Challenge Grant recipients and will receive a year of mentoring as well as workshop support tailored to each community’s needs.
“The five winners had three important things in common,” Smart Cities Council Chairman Jesse Berst said in a statement. Berst noted the winners were looking for opportunities for “uncovering synergies and cost-efficiencies between departments.
“They also fostered coordinated collaboration between internal departments, external stakeholders and nearby regions,” he added. “Finally, they exhibited a determination to include underserved and vulnerable populations.”
Louisville plans to use the organization’s expertise to further develop its smart cities plan and strategy. Part of that plan is the deployment of some 115 miles of fiber-optic cable to enhance communications in the region.
“For us, being able to bring in someone who helps governments from around the world, bring in those best practices, to really beef up our plan, make it better, make sure that we’re doing the right things, thinking the right thoughts,” Ed Blayney, innovation project manager in the Office of Performance Improvement and Innovation, told Government Technology last month when the finalists were announced. “I think we feel very comfortable with our plan, but I think it would help us a lot.”
Similarly, Birmingham will use the Smart Cities Council guidance to grow projects like smart streetlighting, open data, community Wi-Fi as well as a bus rapid transit system.
“Birmingham is committed to having sustainable and inclusive growth, and the Smart Cities designation will enable us to put that flag in the ground,” said Mayor Randall Woodfin in a statement.
Cary, a city of 135,000 residents, located just to the west of Raleigh, N.C., also plans to pursue projects like smart streetlighting, but also would like to add “destination centers” — facilities in underserved neighborhoods to assist in housing and jobs.
Las Vegas wants to become a “fully connected smart city” by 2025, and will use the grant resources to get there. The city currently has three pilot projects under way involving video analytics.
As for the only state selected, Virginia plans to expand broadband throughout the state, as well as develop a cybersecurity privacy plan.
This year’s winners were selected form a list of nine finalists, which included the likes of Albuquerque, N.M.; Aurora, Ill.; Fairfax County, Va.; and Los Angeles.
Also, Puerto Rico, which is recovering from devastation left by Hurricane Maria, will be awarded a separate Readiness Challenge Grant.
Last year, Austin, Texas; Indianapolis; Miami; Newport News, Va.; Orlando, Fla.; and Philadelphia were selected to participate in the Readiness Challenge Grant program.