- Six U.S. cities last week won $200,000 grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for smart city projects.
- The recipients were Philadelphia, Akron, Ohio, Boston, Detroit, Miami and San Jose, California. Many of the grants will go toward developing strategic smart city roadmaps or increasing data access across community partners.
- The grants are part of a larger mission by the Knight Foundation looking into how smart city devices can be deployed in responsible and equitable ways.
While $200,000 isn't enough to deploy many new smart city devices, at least in any city of considerable size, it can go a long way to spur planning processes and cross-agency initiatives for cash-strapped municipal governments.
As such, most recipients of the Knight grants say they will use them to develop roadmaps or institutional plans.
Philadelphia, for instance, says they will use the money to "outline strategies to implement, support and use smart technology and systems effectively and efficiently, and outline financial needs for the project."
The city also plans to invite community members, businesses and stakeholders to contribute to the roadmap.
According to Philly.com, Philadelphia is already working on multiple IoT and sensor projects. The Streets Department has a pilot program to convert street lamps to LED illuminators, Philadelphia Gas Works has a project to put in advanced meter-reading systems, and the Water Department is also looking into advanced meters.
Four companies with experience deploying smart parking in other cities also recently pitched Philadelphia's city council on different parking projects they could provide.
Integrated smart city plans can help coordinate efforts such as these, allowing collaboration between city agencies and the private sector. Another interesting example is slated for Boston, where the city plans to use the Knight grant to "open source" city assets through a platform that allows researchers, businesses and residents to "place sensing technologies in urban environments for research toward the public good."
Along with these grants, the Knight Foundation is supporting the MetroLab Network, a group of city governments and universities around the country working on urban challenges. The Knight Foundation is also helping fund a series led by the Harvard University Klein Center for Internet & Society that brings city officials from around the world to explore how cities approach implementing IoT.