The Smart Cities Council has opened the application period for its 2020 Smart Cities Readiness Challenge, which will award five cities in North America that demonstrate a plan to use technology to improve sustainability and resiliency with a year’s worth of assistance and advising from the council’s network of urban technology experts.
This edition of the challenge will grant all applicants free access to the Smart City Activator, an online portal that city officials can use to crowdsource best practices and collaborate in real time. Previously, free access to the Smart City Activator was only available to challenge winners. Another new wrinkle added this year is that the Smart Cities Council will hold competitions in both spring and fall, giving more cities opportunity to apply.
Winners in both rounds will receive customized assistance from the council, which could include an on-site “readiness workshop,” direct collaboration with other cities or funding to participate in conferences and events throughout North America.
To qualify, cities must demonstrate their projects meet predetermined environmental performance benchmarks, like reducing greenhouse gases, improving energy efficiency, reducing traffic congestion or reducing homelessness. The Smart Cities Council will also be judging projects by how well they incorporate data from different sources, like transportation and public safety agencies, and how interoperable solutions would be across different technology platforms.
The 2019 challenge winners — Baltimore; Edmonton, Canada; Montgomery, Alabama; Racine, Wisconsin; and a San Diego County trade organization — focused on closing the digital divide, reducing the harm of the opioid crisis and increasing access to digital civic services.
Winners of the spring challenge will be announced in April at the Smart Cities Council’s conference in San Diego.