The Smart City Challenge—which was a relatively modest financial investment for the federal government at 0.07 percent of DOT’s budget in 2015—demonstrates how public policy can play a valuable role in promoting technological innovation in cities across the country. Although Columbus was the sole winner of the 2016 competition, numerous other cities—regardless of whether they applied to DOT’s challenge or not—are beginning to incorporate smart technologies into their communities to solve pressing urban issues. Beyond the direct award, the competition propelled a wave of nonprofit and private entities to work alongside local governments in developing innovative solutions and creating forward-looking policies on managing smart technology. From a federal policy perspective, issuing another challenge or competition could be a worthwhile endeavor to both accelerate existing projects, and inspire innovation in cities across the country.
In the second part of this series, we’ll look at how five cities are pioneering innovative uses for smart technology.