White House commits $160 million to ‘smart cities’ research

Funds are targeted to support advances in emergency response, environmental monitoring and connected vehicule technologies to support more efficient cities.

The White House announced Monday that it will commit more than $160 million for federal research into technologies aimed at making cities run more efficiently.  The Obama administration also plans a major push to foster dozens of collaborative efforts with cities and private companies to drive innovation in the marketplace.

In a new fact sheet, released to coincide with the start of the Smart Cities Council’s “Smart Cities Week” event on Tuesday, the administration laid out a comprehensive plan for the new initiative.

One of the largest expenditures comes courtesy of the National Science Foundation. The group will be providing more than $35 million in funding in fiscal year 2016 for smart cities research, with the money benefitting both universities and companies alike.

A variety of other cabinet departments will also be chipping in for the program:

  • The Department of Homeland Security will invest $50 million over the next five years to develop more advanced emergency response technology for smart cities.
  • The Department of Transportation is committing roughly $46 million to projects involving connected vehicle technology.
  • The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency are combining efforts to invest roughly $15 million to find solutions for making cities more environmentally friendly.
  • The Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration is launching a new, $10 million round of its Regional Innovation Strategies funding program, which will target entrepreneurs and companies working on technology that could be beneficial for smart cities.

The administration’s smart cities push doesn’t just involve federal funding, however. The initiative also includes the creation of the “MetroLab Network,” a program that pairs 21 cities and counties with nearby universities in the hopes of driving more than 60 smart city projects over the next year.

Overall, the White House said it hopes the new programs can help communities solve problems ranging from traffic congestion to crime.

The White House announcement marks the latest in a string of efforts to help build visibility for innovative smart city practices. in June, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, together with U.S. Ignite, showcased than 60 international projects focused around ways cities are dealing with transportation, health and other issues in new and innovative ways.

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