UPDATE: June 13, 2018: Georgia Tech announced on Tuesday the winners of the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge (Georgia Smart). The winning proposals are: the City of Albany's Housing Data Initiative; the City of Chamblee's Shared Autonomous Vehicle Study; Chatham County's Smart Sea Level Tools for Emergency Planning and Response project; and Gwinnett County's Connected Vehicle Technology Master Plan.
Work on the projects will begin in September and continue for one calendar year. Each winner will each receive $50,000 in grants and $25,000 from Georgia Tech in research support, as well as expert advice and networking to advance the projects.
- Georgia Tech announced the launch of the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge (Georgia Smart), enabling any local government in the state to apply for funding, technical assistance and expert advice as they plan for smart development. Partners include Georgia Power (lead sponsor), Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC, funding sponsor), Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.
- Governments must submit proposals for smart mobility and smart resilience to Georgia Smart, with four winning teams to receive direct grant funding of up to $50,000 and matching local funds for research and technical assistance. Georgia Tech researchers will help each team, while the university will work with the winning teams to help implement their proposals.
- "We’ve spent the past year in workshops and dialogue with local governments across Georgia to better understand their challenges and priorities," Debra Lam, managing director of Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation at Georgia Tech, said in a statement. "From these communications, we developed a program that is sensitive to the local context while fast-tracking smart communities. We aim to create more models for smart development that can be shared and applied across the state and beyond."
This new challenge represents another competition for local governments to work with the private sector on smart development, and comes just days after the launch of the nationwide Smart Infrastructure Challenge. But this program is unique, as it goes beyond large cities and encourages smaller jurisdictions to get involved and leverage the research and testing available at Georgia Tech.
It also represents further partnership between local governments, regional agencies and private business, and a recognition that there must be collaboration to help bring smart development everywhere, including to small cities and counties that may otherwise be left behind. "Businesses are moving at a rapid pace and our public institutions can now use these same technologies to improve quality of life for citizens in every part of Georgia," Georgia Chamber of Commerce CEO Chris Clark said in a statement.
A similar collaborative partnership between the public and private sectors is well underway in Colorado through the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, which brought academic institutions and businesses together with a dozen cities of varying sizes in the state. Alliance co-founder Jake Rishavy told Smart Cities Dive that regardless of size, there is plenty of desire among local leaders to do such work. "There’s such a hunger for civic innovation right now, and what we’re finding is that there are passionate innovation leaders within all these cities of all sizes,” he said. “What they were looking for was the opportunity to be engaged."
And Georgia Smart’s emphasis on taking advantage of the research opportunities at Georgia Tech will stand communities in good stead. With a slew of resources available at the Atlanta-based institution, communities will have an ideal opportunity for research and development at a place perfectly suited for such work.