Obama Administration announces new ‘Smart Cities’ initiative to help communities tackle local challenges & improve city services

A new “Smart Cities” Initiative has been launched and will invest over $160 million in federal research and leverage more than 25 new technology collaborations to help local communities tackle key challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate, and improving the delivery of city services. 

Over the past six years, the Administration has pursued a place-based approach to working with communities as they tackle a wide range of challenges, from investing in infrastructure and filling open technology jobs to bolstering community policing. Advances in science and technology have the potential to accelerate these efforts. An emerging community of civic leaders, data scientists, technologists, and companies are joining forces to build “Smart Cities” – communities that are building an infrastructure to continuously improve the collection, aggregation, and use of data to improve the life of their residents – by harnessing the growing data revolution, low-cost sensors, and research collaborations, and doing so securely to protect safety and privacy.

As part of the initiative, the Administration is announcing:
•    More than $35 million in new grants and over $10 million in proposed investments to build a research infrastructure for Smart Cities by the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Standards and Technology.
•    Nearly $70 million in new spending and over $45 million in proposed investments to unlock new solutions in safety, energy, climate preparedness, transportation, health and more, by the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, Department of Energy, Department of Commerce, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
•    More than 20 cities participating in major new multi-city collaborations that will help city leaders effectively collaborate with universities and industry.

More than 20 city-university collaborations are launching the MetroLab Network, with more than 60 Smart City projects in the next year. Supported by a newly announced grant of $1 million from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the MetroLab Network will leverage university expertise to address challenges facing cities and regions across the country.

The Network will provide a platform upon which established and emerging city-university relationships can share successful projects, coordinate multi-city, multi-university research efforts, and compete for research and project funding.  The founding members have collectively committed to undertaking more than 60 projects over the next year, which will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of infrastructure and services in our cities and communities and increase the productivity and competitiveness of our regional economies.  Communities and their university counterparts signing onto the network with a joint letter to the President include:

  • Atlanta, with Georgia State University and Georgia Tech
  • Boston, with Boston Area Research Initiative
  • Chicago, with the University of Chicago
  • Cuyahoga County, with Case Western University
  • Dallas, with Texas Research Alliance
  • Detroit, with Wayne State University
  • Houston, with Rice University
  • Madison, with University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Memphis, with University of Memphis
  • Minneapolis & St. Paul, with University of Minnesota
  • Montgomery County, with University of Maryland and Universities at Shady Grove
  • New York City, with New York University
  • Philadelphia, with Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania
  • Pittsburgh, with Carnegie Mellon University
  • Portland, with Portland State University
  • Providence, with Brown University, College Unbound, and Rhode Island School of Design
  • San Diego, with University of California San Diego
  • San Jose, with San Jose State University
  • Seattle, with University of Washington
  • South Bend, with University of Notre Dame
  • Washington, DC, with Howard University, Georgetown University, and George Washington University
Subscribe