UPDATED: April 22, 2019: The Smart Cities Council announced the winners of its annual Smart Cities Readiness Challenge during last week's Smart Cities Week in San Diego. The winning communities, selected from a pool of more than 100 applications, are: Baltimore; Edmonton, Alberta; Montgomery, AL; Racine, WI and the first regional entity, Cleantech San Diego.
The winning communities will take part in a year-long Readiness Program which will offer guidance from the Council to assist in developing and executing the initiatives detailed in the communities' respective applications. Initiatives range from establishing smart cities committees to designing programs to enhance government services.
- The Smart Cities Council announced 10 finalists in its 2019 North American Smart Cities Readiness Challenge, with three of the finalists entering on a regional basis.
- The challenge invites cities to compete to receive a year-long Readiness Program to turn their smart city visions into reality. The five winners will be announced at the Smart Cities Week conference in San Diego next month.
- The 10 finalists are: Baltimore; Dallas; Edmonton, Canada; Jersey City, NJ; Montgomery, AL; Palm Coast, FL; Racine, WI; Cleantech San Diego; the North Florida Smart Region Coalition; and the U.S./Mexico Smart Towns Consortium.
The 10 finalists have a variety of aims in mind, including increasing citizen engagement, encouraging greater partnerships between the public and private sectors, bolstering fledgling Innovation Districts and enhancing their economies. Both Palm Coast and Racine are listed as cities seeking an "economic comeback" by using smart technology and public-private partnerships (P3s). It shares some similarities with Puerto Rico, which received a special grant last year from the Smart Cities Council to help it rebuild after Hurricane Maria.
Previous winners have said they found their Readiness Workshops, part of the Readiness Program, of immense help. During Smart Cities Week 2018 in Washington, DC, Don Jacobson, enterprise project manager for the City of Las Vegas, said his favorite part of that city’s workshop "is that you're not afraid to shy away from the tough subjects," which helped his city's stakeholders "bear down" on topics such as financing, a typically uncomfortable area of debate.
And it is telling that several finalists have entered on a regional basis. That strategy has gained traction in similar contests like smart city and technology strategy firm Venture Smarter’s Smart Infrastructure Challenge, which honored four cross-jurisdictional teams last October.
In this Readiness Challenge, Cleantech San Diego is convening multiple cities as well as the port, airport and regional planning experts to share best practices, while the North Florida Smart Region Coalition is looking to advance new energy, safety, telecommunications, and health and human services initiatives. The U.S./Mexico Smart Towns Consortium is a cross-border group working to benefit rural communities, which have traditionally been left behind by some innovations.