NGA invites five states to smart communities learning lab

Leaders from Colorado, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota and Virginia will head to Chicago in October to compare notes on statewide connected technology programs.

Adoption of sensors, connected devices and data analytics in government comprises what is known as the “smart cities” sector, but the National Governors Association is ramping up its efforts to help states to be smart, too. Five states — Colorado, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota and Virginia — have been selected to participate in a three-day learning lab to develop statewide programs themed around connected technology, the group’s chairman, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval announced Friday.

The event — launched as part of the NGA’s current Smarter States, Smarter Communities initiative — is to help governors develop programs that can harness Internet of Things technologies that improve the quality of life of state residents, an NGA press release explains.

Illinois will serve as a host state so that leaders can learn about the progress that state leaders there have already made. (Separately, Illinois shared with StateScoop on Friday plans to host a smart communities connected streetlights workshop on Aug. 15.) Illinois acting Chief Information Officer Kirk Lonbom said the Illinois smart state program helps communities adopt new technologies through master state contracts that they might not have been able to afford otherwise, while also providing a platform for communities to share information.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in a press release that inclusion in the learning lab is a “tremendous opportunity” to “solidify our implementation roadmap, reduce barriers that limit many communities from accessing smart technologies, and move forward with innovative policies that integrate smart community initiatives in all areas of our Commonwealth.”


Virginia reports that it began a Smart Communities Working Group last year to create a statewide focus around connected technologies and to recommend policy, and that this event will help build on those efforts.

According to NGA, the learning lab is to be the first of three phases in the Smarter States, Smarter Communities initiative, with more information to come in upcoming announcements.

The learning lab will take place Oct. 17-19 in Chicago.

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