Every city across the country is being asked to do more with less. Most residents are savvy technology-enabled consumers and they expect their government to react at the pace of innovation. On the other side of the digital divide, those isolated from technology are struggling to function in an online world.
Cities are navigating a complex reality in which technology is simultaneously providing solutions to our most pressing challenges while also exacerbating deep-rooted historical issues. City leaders desperately need support in two main areas: (1) access to knowledge, and (2) access to funding.
US Ignite, a nonprofit advancing the development of smart, connected communities, recently announced an initiative in partnership with The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to answer that call.
Nick Maynard, US Ignite’s Chief Strategy Officer, describes the opportunity: “Today, dozens of communities are working to develop smart city strategies for their most pressing problems, but many do not have the resources necessary to implement these plans. In partnership with Knight Foundation, US Ignite will be creating a series of online platform with tools tailored to the needs of city leaders looking to deploy smart city programs and infrastructure. For example, these tools will offer detailed information on 35 federal funding opportunities that cities can use to jump start their smart city initiatives, along with technical assistance from US Ignite staff.”
The project will provide resources such as an online database of information and best practices. They will also offer curated workshops, targeted technical insight and guidance through the web of federal smart city funding opportunities from the National Science Foundation, US Department of Agriculture, Economic Development Administration, Federal Communications Commission, Housing and Urban Development, and more.
US Ignite is already working with more than 100 global cities. Their portfolio includes Smart Gigabit Communities (SGC) program — a network of cities focused on Internet of Things (IoT) applications, the US Ignite Forum — workshops and best practice playbooks, and The Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) program — four city-scale wireless test beds with $100 million in cash and in-kind funding.
This partnership shows great promise to streamline and concentrate smart city efforts. This shared learning may cut down on duplicative efforts and non-scalable pilot projects. City leaders, faced with innovating in the face of systems, policies and procedures that are not designed for the modern age, will hopefully welcome all of the help they can get.
Editors Note: US Ignite is an official Smart Cities Connect partner