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Creating Smarter Cities through Science, Technology and Civic Participation

In advance of a White House Smart Cities event in mid-September, readers are invited to submit thoughts and potential commitments to help cities become smarter.

Over the past six years, this Administration has pursued a place-based approach to working with communities as they tackle a wide range of challenges such as investing in infrastructure and creating jobs. We are focused on doing what works and using modern data tools to measure success, monitor progress, and scale up efforts that are having a positive impact. This has meant coordinating Federal efforts to meet local needs—especially in places where challenges are most acute— by working hand–in-hand with localities, streamlining Federal funding, and providing technical assistance.

Advances in science and technology have the potential to accelerate these efforts. There is an emerging community of data scientists, technologists, and civic leaders who are joining forces to build so-called “smart cities.” These communities are harnessing the growing data revolution, low-cost sensors, and research partnerships to unlock new solutions to problems citizens care about, such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth and job creation, and improving the delivery of important city services.

For example, by coordinating adjacent traffic signals to optimize local traffic throughput, a pilot project in Pittsburgh has reduced commuting travel times by more than 25 percent, on average. In Louisville, the city is using data gathered from sensor-equipped asthma inhalers to understand the connection between asthma “hotspots” and air quality levels and other environmental factors in order to inform policymaking and community-level interventions. 

The United States is just beginning to take advantage of the opportunities to build smarter communities, and the Administration is committed to accelerating progress in this area. That’s why the Administration’s FY17 Science and Technology Priorities include a focus on cyber-physical systems and smart cities.

It’s also why we are excited to be holding a White House Smart Cities event in mid-September as part of Smart Cities Week being held in Washington, DC. The goal of the convening will be to bring together leading thinkers and practitioners from government, the research community, cities, civil society, and the tech sector to discuss the multi-sector collaborations that will help our cities thrive in the 21st century.

The White House invites YOU to participate in this “all-hands-on-deck” approach. We are eager to hear your ideas for promising activities, potential collaborations, and new commitments that are underway or under development that could help build smart cities.

Submit your thoughts and potential commitments to help cities become smarter via this web form by September 1.

Dan Correa is a Senior Advisor for Innovation Policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.