Smart Cities Are About Meaningful Collaborations

One of the defining characteristics of a winning team is each player understands and plays to their strengths for the good of the group. This dynamic is easy to see in sports and often evident in organizations, but it can be more difficult to perceive when massive shifts occur across sectors, like the one taking place in smart cities. 

A smart city is generally coined by industry as integrating information technology to enhance the delivery of city services. While deployment is often local, the design and implementation of that technology requires complex collaboration at local, state, regional, national, and sometimes global levels. When each member of the team offers their core contribution, the result is an exciting synergy where local leaders are able to address their community’s needs with strategic support from a holistic group of partners. 

You may be thinking that this idealized combination of local and national collaborators seems too good to be true, but there are two recent announcements that showcase major successes in smart cities and particularly smarter, more connected utilities that serve those who live, work and play in cities. 

First, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)’s Smart Connected Systems Division recently released the Global Community Technology Challenge (GCTC) Strategic Plan (2024-2026). This announcement galvanizes more than a decade of work by the GCTC and reflects efforts from local and state government, industry, NGOs, and research institutions. The Strategic Plan enhances existing partnerships by supporting research and development on smart city projects. NIST has opened the plan for public comment and is actively seeking community input until February 29, 2024 on the Initial Public Draft

While the federal government has an important role to play to guide cities in their pursuit to become smarter, industry leaders are also responding to the call for cooperation. Industry associations, including CTIA, the wireless association, play an important role to highlight how companies can leverage their expertise and insight on technical and strategic initiatives. CTIA facilitates  a series of Smart City Working Groups that produce an impressive array of Roadmaps, Toolkits, and Guides on topics such as Smart Utilities, Smart Transportation, Smart Public Services, Safety, and Education, and Smart Utilities.  Interactive tools offered free to city stakeholders such as the Smart City Maturity Model  offers city leaders customized insights regarding their smart city infrastructure journey.

Specifically supporting smart utilities, CTIA recently published the CTIA Smart Utilities Use Case Guide which clarifies smart grid applications and offers contextualized use cases. CTIA, in partnership with Ericsson, also recently launched IoT Network Certified for Smart Connected Infrastructure™, a first-of-its-kind, industry-recognized standard for testing the cybersecurity and cellular connectivity of IoT devices on critical infrastructure. At the Ericsson Lab, one of more than 100 CTIA Certification Authorized Test Labs around the world, technicians from the Ericsson Utilities Center of Excellence test devices on utility frequency bands to provide assurance of reliable operation on their networks. They also test the security of the device according to the latest NIST cybersecurity standards. This new certification program promises to streamline device screening for smart grid deployment and, by creating a common 3rd party-tested baseline, help utilities deploy connected devices more confidently and securely. 

These recent announcements from CTIA and NIST’s GCTC highlight what is possible when people come together across sectors for a common purpose. Each player executes  an important part and contributes their best to build smarter, more connected, communities that provide economic and social benefits. When the collaboration teams win together, so do local communities. Stay tuned for more announcements from NIST GCTC and CTIA.