Need a hand with your smart city project? Government help may be on the way

Tue, 2016-08-02 10:00 -- Doug Peeples

The federal government last year kicked off its
Smart Cities Initiative, pledging more than $160 million to support research and technology development to help cities cut traffic congestion, reduce crime, mitigate the effects of climate change, improve how city services are delivered and more. Now, Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington and other members of the U.S. House of Representatives are following up. They're putting together legislation to help city leaders with the challenges of financing and deploying successful projects, as the story below explains. While there aren't a lot of details right now, the legislation looks like an effort worth following—and worth a call or email to your representatives in Congress. —Doug Peeples

The legislation DelBene and others are drafting takes into account the challenges many cities face when they want to embark on a smart city project: budgets that are already strained and an absence of in-house talent and expertise to manage projects and the increasingly complex and connected technologies they require.

By eliminating or at least mitigating those challenges, the legislators hope more city leaders will work to revitalize their cities and services. So far, the key components of the draft bill address ways to ensure pilot projects are successful and promoting public and private investment.

And, as DelBene said recently, "We have draft legislation as well on smart communities that we are working on in conjunction with folks in the Senate so that we have grand programs and understand pilot programs so we get best practices. DelBene does have some expertise in the area. She is co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Internet of things Caucus.

More developments in smart city assistance expected
It appears likely that additional legislation will be developed. As an article in readwrite noted, the Department of Transportation's Smart City Challenge which awarded $40 million to Columbus, Ohio, for smart city upgrades was popular and successful—and could result in additional grants and programs for smart cities. The article noted that leaders of some of the other cities in the Smart City Challenge competition wanted to continue with the projects they had proposed, despite not winning the award.

Also, efforts to develop legislation to help guide and promote smart city projects are taking place outside Congress. As we reported in early July, Council Lead Partner Qualcomm and Advisory Board member CompTIA are developing a smart cities bill to provide centralized smart city standards to help guide state and local governments. Their legislation also would include provisions for economic development grants to support smart city infrastructure, technologies and services.

For more on the topic...
While legislation is in the works to provide guidance and support for cities embarking on smart city projects, you may want to scan the Smart Cities Readiness Guide chapter Ideas to Action. It explains the elements of developing and deploying a smart city upgrade and includes discussions on subjects such as  the steps to building the roadmap you'll need to guide your project, which projects will yield the most benefits for citizens quickly, the outsourcing option and—just as important—why expert advice and recommendations are invaluable when dealing with the connected, complex systems necessary for a truly smart city.

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.