Smart Cities Council Announces Finalist Cities for Readiness Challenge Grants

Tue, 2017-01-31 13:35 -- SCC Staff

(Washington, D.C.) – January 31, 2017 – Smart Cities Council, the world’s largest smart cities network, announced today ten finalists for the Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge Grant program. Five of these cities – which will be announced on February 8 – will receive tailored Readiness Workshops to develop a roadmap for applying smart technologies to further innovation, inclusion and investment within their cities.

“We’ve received tremendous interest from cities of all sizes across the United States and we’ve narrowed it down to an exceptional pool of ten finalists,” said Smart Cities Council Chairman Jesse Berst. “Each finalist demonstrated a comprehensive approach to smart cities implementation that will significantly advance their livability, workability, sustainability and resilience.”

The Readiness Challenge Grant finalists include:

  • Austin, TX: Fourteen key city stakeholders in Austin participated in the grant proposal interview which focused on the areas of energy, telecommunications and transportation. Austin CityUP Founder and President Jay Boisseau and City of Austin’s Data Architect Ted Lehr were joined by Mayor Steve Adler, Council Member Ann Kitchen, Assistant City Manager Mark Washington, Chief Innovation Officer Kerry O’Connor, Chief Information Officer Stephen Elkins and several department heads.
  • Birmingham, AL: Along with the participation of Jefferson County, Birmingham applied for the grant with a focus on the built environment, energy and transportation. Several key stakeholders from Birmingham participated in the interview including Chief Information Officer Srikanth Karra and Urban Planning Administrator Christopher Hatcher, as well as Sherrie Nielson from the Mayor’s Office’s Capital and Special Projects division and representatives from Alabama Power and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center.
  • Chula Vista, CA: Focused on energy, telecommunications and transportation, the City of Chula Vista applied for the grant with the participation of the City of San Diego and the Unified Port of San Diego. Chula Vista City Manager Gary Halbert joined the phone interview, in addition to Director of Information Technology Ed Chew, Chief Sustainability Officer Dennis Gakunga, Director of Economic Development Eric Crockett, City Engineer William Valle, Police Captain Vern Sallee and Coordinator Cameron Celeste.
  • Indianapolis, IN: Marion County joined Indianapolis in the application process, focusing on the key areas of energy, transportation, water and wastewater. Interview participants included: Laura Riga, Department of Metropolitan Development, City of Indianapolis; Erik Hromadka, CEO, Global Water Technologies; and Teresa Bennett, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Office of Community Engagement, IUPUI.
  • Jersey City, NJ: Jersey City teamed up with Hoboken to submit a grant application focused on transportation, water and wastewater, and waste management. Jersey City Innovation Strategist Arjun Janakiram participated in the phone interview alongside the City of Hoboken’s Business Administrator Stephen Marks and Principal Planners Jennifer Gonzalez and Jessica Giorgianni.
  • Miami, FL: Chief Innovation Officer Mike Sarasti was joined by Deputy Chief Information Officer Otto Contreras and Chief Information Officer Kevin Burns to discuss Miami’s focus on the built environment, telecommunications and public safety.
  • Newport News, VA: Focused on transportation, water and wastewater, and public safety, key interview participants included Director of Information Technology Andy Stein and Information Technology Web Developer Pamela Jeter.
  • Orlando, FL: Orange County joined Orlando in the grant application which focused on the built environment, transportation and public safety. Chief Information Officer Redwan "Rosa" Akhtarkhavari, Director of Sustainability Chris Castro, Director of Special Projects Charles Ramdatt, and Director of Strategic Partnerships Kathleen Devault were joined by 25 other participants, many of which included department heads of transportation, public works, solid waste, homelessness and social services, facilities management and others.
  • Philadelphia, PA: The City of Philadelphia applied for the grant with a focus on the built environment, telecommunications, and water and wastewater. Interview participants included Steven Robertson, Chief of Staff for the Office of Innovation and Technology, along with Chief Information Officer Charles Brennan, Director of the Office of Sustainability Christine Knapp, Program Manager for Innovation Management Ellen Hwang, Energy Analyst Amanda Warwood and Philadelphia Water Department Operations Administration Manager Stephen Junod.
  • Providence, RI: In Providence, several key city stakeholders participated in the application interview, which focused on the built environment, transportation and basic public services. Participants included: Chief of Staff Nicole Pollock; Director of Economic Development Mark Huang; Director of Partnerships and Intergovernmental Affairs Peter Asen; Director of Sustainability Leah Bamberger; Director of Innovation Emmanuel Echevarria; and Martina Haggerty, the Associate Director for Special Projects with the Department of Planning and Development.

Applicants were rigorously scored on a variety of criteria relating to completed and current smart cities projects, smart cities plans, leadership capacity, stakeholder engagement and commitment from Mayors or City Managers.

“We are looking forward to bringing our members and advisors – the world's leading smart city practitioners and industry experts – together with these cities to craft action plans that are innovative, inclusive and 'investment-grade,” noted Berst.

All grant applicants will receive feedback from the Council and opportunities to conduct a Readiness Workshop outside of the Challenge.

The five winning cities will be announced on February 8. 


About the Smart Cities Council:  Launched in 2012, the Smart Cities Council is the author of the internationally recognized Smart Cities Readiness Guide, which provides guiding principles and best practices for an integrated, cross-cutting smart city. The Readiness Guide is the framework used to produce Readiness Workshops, which are delivered all over the world to help cities create their smart city roadmaps. With regional councils in North America, Europe, India and Australia/New Zealand, the Council is comprised of more than 120 partners and advisors who generate $2.7 trillion in annual revenue and who have worked on more than 10,000 smart city projects past and present. To learn more, visit

Media Contact:
Sarah Blanchard
Director of City Engagement
Smart Cities Council