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Honeywell, Accelerator for America Launch Smart City Program

The idea behind the program is for cities to work with Honeywell and Accelerator for America to expand smart city efforts to "support safer, more efficient, resilient and equitable communities."

smart city
In an effort to help cities develop individualized smart city plans, Honeywell and Accelerator for America have launched a “Smart City Accelerator Program.”

To kick things off, Cleveland, Ohio; Louisville, Ky.; Kansas City, Mo.; San Diego, Calif.; and Waterloo, Iowa, will be the first to participate in the program.

According to Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, president and CEO of Accelerator for America, each city applied for and was chosen to participate in the program based on their existing smart city plans and what they’d like to achieve moving forward.

Now that they have been selected, city officials are beginning to work with Honeywell to develop a four-prong plan to address each city’s priorities and specific needs.

The plan will consist of creating a "Smart City Vision" that encompasses resiliency-focused goals, implementing an operational framework to help each city manage and support different projects, defining projects and business models to achieve specific goals and determining smart cities governance structures.

So, with that said, what’s going on at the city level?

In Cleveland, Mayor Justin Bibb said the partnership would help create a more modernized city hall for the 21st century.

“When we got word from Accelerator for America that Honeywell was offering this program, I jumped on it because I wanted to make sure we were using every resource we could to execute my vision for a more modern and responsive city hall,” Bibb said.

What inspired the specific goal was different city departments using different technology that didn’t necessarily communicate well with one another, like Windows 7 versus Windows 10.

Now, however, nearly 98 percent of all City Hall employees are using Microsoft 365, which Bibb said is a small change that has significantly boosted innovation, raising the idea that other changes could lead to a more resilient city in the long term.

Cleveland’s smart city plan will also consist of other efforts such as digitizing city services, creating an open data platform and improving Internet access for city residents.

To achieve this, Bibb said he and city staff are working with Honeywell to define these concepts further before assigning departments specific tasks and aligning department chiefs and directors to execute any goals listed in the city’s long-term plan.

As for other cities within the program, most look to improve different areas such as infrastructure, service delivery and resiliency.

“My administration is committed to improving Kansas City's infrastructure, public safety and sustainability, and we’re looking forward to working with Accelerator for America and Honeywell to make transformational change,” said Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas in a release.

Meanwhile, in Waterloo, Mayor Quentin Hart said the program would help align data collection systems, control systems and applications used across city departments.

The idea, Wiederwohl said, is that once each city defines its specific goals, the accelerator will help it apply for federal grants to put its strategic plan into action.

“In the coming months, all five of these cities will produce a smart city strategic plan,” Wiederwohl told Government Technology. “In this same time frame, there is a federal grant opportunity that we think probably one or more of our cities will be ready to apply for.

“The results that come out of this strategic planning process and hopefully some winning grants will then serve as a model to other cities who can embark on this journey individually,” she added.
Katya Diaz is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in global strategic communications from Florida International University.