Smart Cities Council Accepting Applications for 2018 Challenge Grants
Five North American cities will be selected as Challenge Grant recipients by the Smart Cities Council, making them eligible for mentoring, products and services.Source: GovTech
Cities with bold ideas around their technological futures should be sharpening their pencils. Applications for the 2018 Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge Grants are due Dec. 15. The council will award grants to five North American cities hoping to grow their smart cities initiatives.   "Our Readiness Challenge program is about finding cities that are ready to take the next step — cities that are ready to move from talking about the future to actually building it," said Jesse Berst, chairman, Smart Cities Council, which runs the program.
"Along those lines, we're looking for cities that already have some idea about what they want to accomplish, and have identified and are involving the stakeholders who will be necessary to turn that vision into reality.   "We also believe that smart cities are equitable cities, and we give priority to plans that benefit populations that have traditionally been under-served," he added.  
The Challenge Grant program — heading into its second year — will offer expanded mentoring opportunities for the program's grant recipients. The Smart Cities Council is an international coalition of companies, smart city advocates, academics and experts, according to the organization's website.   
"Leading up to the workshop, the winners will receive months of coaching to identify the key issues and key stakeholders," Berst explained.  
The Readiness Workshops are highly customized, interactive gatherings meant to attract stakeholders from across multiple segments of the community. They are largely intended to give direction to a "Readiness Roadmap," which "turns those discussions into clear next steps," said Berst. "Roadmaps are unique to each city and capture the findings raised during the workshop discussions. As a new feature in 2018, these roadmaps will now include clear next steps for cities to help them turn the vision they built during the workshop into an action plan."  
In 2017 Miami, Austin, Indianapolis, Orlando and Philadelphia were the five winners of the Smart Cities Readiness Challenge Grant.  
"As you may know, we're a city of neighborhoods, and each one has different needs," recalled Charles J. Brennan, chief innovation officer for Philadelphia, in a recent interview. The City of Brotherly Love was one of the 2017 Readiness Challenge Grant award winners, selected from a pool of more than 130 communities.  
"We wanted to make sure that we brought as many different perspectives to the table, as much as possible," said Ellen Hwang, program manager for Philadelphia's Innovation Management office.