Is America really this much dumber than Europe when it comes to smart cities?

Fri, 2014-08-01 06:00 -- SCC Staff

America is falling further and further behind in the race to have the world's smartest cities. Europe is ahead for now, although the Middle East and China will soon challenge for the lead.

Here's just one of many reasons Europe is in front. As you'll read in the summary below, Europe understands that you can't have a truly smart city -- livability, workability, sustainability -- without broadband. And you can't have broadband unless you figure out how to pay for.

So they've set up a whole program to help cities do just that. Help with planning, help with applications, special programs and interest rates. And here's the best part of all -- Europe has a goal. More specifically, it wants 100% of EU households to have at least 30 Mbps broadband and 50% with at least 100 Mbps by 2020.

Goals, counseling, financial assistance -- these things seem dead obvious to any region that wants to build the infrastructure for the next 20 years of progress and prosperity. Is America really too stupid to understand these obvious steps? Or is its failure just one more artifact of its political gridlock? And is there anything it can do to get back in the race? The Comment form at the bottom of the page awaits your opinions. -- Jesse Berst

Below are details from a European Commission press release on the Connected Communities effort.

What is Connected Communities?

Connected Communities is a European Commission initiative to support regions and cities in their broadband networks development. The aim is to identify and support a number of innovative pilot projects for deploying high speed broadband which can be replicated across the European Union.

The initiative will map potential European broadband projects, and identify the most mature ones, which will be prioritized for "technical assistance" services under the Connected Europe Facility (CEF), in partnership between the European Commission and the World Bank. The initiative will also create a community of stakeholders which will work towards closing the high speed broadband gap.

Who can submit a high-speed broadband project plan?

Any local, regional or national, public, semi-public or private entities can present a broadband project. The broadband project must be located in one or more EU Member State.

What is the advantage of becoming part of the Connected Communities initiative?

Submitting a proposal under Connected Communities offers several opportunities for learning, partnering, efficiency gains and creation of new business:

    • Visibility: take part in action on a European scale with a broad coalition of partners
    • Networking: engage with others to get new ideas and feedback
    • Best practices: learn from others and exchange best practices
    • Feedback: receive feedback from experienced professionals about your proposal
    • Receive technical assistance and/or guidance about technical assistance sources other than the European Commission / World Bank partnership

What is the deadline?

The first phase of the call for project submissions will be open until Oct. 15, 2014.

Click here to learn more about the initiative and how to submit projects.


Jesse Berst is the founding Chairman of the Smart Cities Council. Click to learn about the benefits you receive when you join the Council for free. Follow @Jesse_Berst and connect on LinkedIn.