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Imagine a dynamic way to help residents evacuate from a dangerous situation, avoid hazardous areas and traffic impasses. Loved ones reunite safely and first responders can move personnel and materials more quickly and efficiently. Providing better, real-time information to residents and first responders by using the data made available in a “smart” city could make this happen.
What I’m describing is the city we hope to see in the future—a city that is as smart as it is safe and resilient. This is closer than we think, and a topic I recently discussed at Global Cities Team Challenge and the Smart Cities Innovation Summit. In attendance were intergovernmental officials, industry innovators, and researchers to discuss how our nation’s cities in the present become the smart cites of the future.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Deputy Assistant Secretary Mark Dowd from the Department of Transportation (DOT), Former Governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley, and Dan Correa from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. We talked about how we need to identify and define core needs, partner with public and private sectors, and integrate planning. We all agreed there is a chemistry in smart cities for how people and things come together, and to effect change we must shift how we engage citizens to share ideas and collect feedback on this topic.
The bottom line is that we need to work together. And we’ve already started.
Last week, S&T joined in a collaborative effort led by DOT, and supported by the Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The collaboration focuses on DOT’s Smart City Challenge to create a fully integrated, first-of-its-kind city that uses data, technology, and creativity to shape how people and goods move in the future. Just last week Columbus, Ohio won the challenge, and we congratulate them on this outstanding achievement.
Where S&T comes into the collaborative is how smart cities approach resilience when disasters strike and how we can help local decision makers when it matters the most.
Evacuations are just one example of what we could do, but we know we can do more. As the research and development arm for the department, we already have projects underway that are helping build resilient communities and enable decision makers across the country against threats like hurricanes, animal disease, cyberattacks to critical infrastructure, or a terrorist attack on our people.
We’ve done a lot of work in the areas of resilience and supplying data to help decision makers, but we want to integrate our work into cities across the country. As leaders face complex challenges on how to manage growth in cities to provide the best economic conditions and deliver essential services such as power, water, healthcare, transportation, and public safety, we want to help.