On the February 8, the Smart Cities Council made an announcement concerning the five winners of the Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge who included Austin, Indianapolis, Miami, Orlando and Philadelphia.Austin, being the first of the winners of the challenge, recently hosted a readiness workshop and began working with the Smart Cities council.
The Chief Scientist of the council, Stuart Cowan, kicked off the workshop presenting an overview of the smart city development process. According to the definition, a smart city is one that, “Uses information and communications technology to enhance its liability, work-ability and sustainability.”
Panelists for the challenge program included the president and founder of Austin City UP, Jay Boisseau, Erik Hromadka CEO of Global Water Technologies and Ellen Hwang, program manager at the Office which is a collaboration of both public and private firms that share the same goal which is to create an integrated, inclusive and sustainable smart city infrastructure.
He was quick to state that the focus is not particularly on Austin but actually integration at the scale of the city. Boisseau also stated there are a number of smart city projects which are in operation but there are no smart cities as of yet.
He also admitted smart cities are an expansive and challenging issue with several moving parts. There is the stakeholder, the visitors, firms and domains including housing, safety, health and employment sectors.
Cities have little money, which is discretionary, while there is rough constant revenue that comes from taxation, a lot of the smart city projects usually go above the stated budget.
Selection Criteria for the Smart Cities Challenge
Austin, as a city, was selected because of its drive to assist with underserved populations and making their voices heard at City Hall. These groups do not particularly have a say when it comes to municipal politics considering mobility and housing issues.
According to Austin Mayor, Steve Adler, “This will help Austin use new technologies to meet old challenges of mobility and affordability.” The winners were chosen from a pool that had over 130 applicants across the nation.
Every city partnership entry had to organize across different departments and agencies to demonstrate that everyone was on board with the projects ranging from solving the issues of homelessness to the creation of better transport alternatives.
Each of the cities is going to get a host of products and services from the council member corporations such as the Internet of Things starter kits and building design optimization training as well as assistance.
The readiness workshop was also meant to be tailored for each host each time it would be held, thus focusing on issues which are particular to the city’s jurisdiction.
Closing the Mobility Gap
Austin particularly focused, the readiness workshop in utilizing the Readiness Workshop on using technology meant for closing the gap for the underserved populations while searching the mobility options.
Cowan stated, “Austin is a smart city that also cares deeply about social equity, regional culture, and sustainability.”
Participants of the workshop suggested the setting up kiosks and other methods of communicating within the undeserved neighborhoods in a bid to improve access for everyone to the city’s municipal government.