Civic News

Philly won a grant on smart-city ‘readiness.’ Here’s what that means

Out of 130 cities in the running, the City of Philadelphia was one of five awarded the Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge Grant.

Philadelphia City Hall.

(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Correction: A previous version of this story reported 130 cities around the world had applied for the grant. The program is actually restricted to U.S. cities.  (2/10/17, 10:36 a.m.)

Out of a pool of 130 U.S. cities, Philadelphia was awarded a grant on smart city readiness from the Smart Cities Council alongside Austin, Indianapolis, Miami and Orlando.

As part of the grant, Philly will get to host a tailored Readiness Workshop during 2017 — with in-kind financial support from the Council — to develop a roadmap for applying smart technologies. The City will also receive ongoing feedback and guidance from the Council, as well as supporting products and services from Council member companies and advisers.

“We know the technology behind us is important for our citizens and businesses alike, and the expertise that the Smart Cities Council brings will help us realize those opportunities,” said Mayor Jim Kenney in a press release.

But why was Philly chosen? Likely when you hear smart cities you’re thinking of flashy things like talking traffic lights and facial recognition. Ellen Hwang, the City’s Program Manager for Innovation Management, said the recognition focuses more on the potential for growth in Philly.

“Philadelphia was chosen because we are taking a collaborative approach to bringing smart cities initiatives to the city,” Hwang said. “This isn’t just about the trend of smart cities and technology, but about better supporting our citizens and business community.”

She pointed to one example of this philosophy: the call for ideas issued last summer to leverage city assets through that elusive idea that is the internet of things (IoT). The call rallied 100 ideas that are currently under review for their application.

Hwang said the most important thing to come from the grant is the opportunity to serve as hosts to the Readiness Workshop, which will feature breakout sessions, and keynotes with experts in the smart cities field to help guide the conversation and identify priorities.

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