White House $300m science plan includes vision for smart cities

14 Oct 201657 Shares

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President Barack Obama fist bumps the robotic arm of Nathan Copeland during a tour at the White House Frontiers Conference at the University of Pittsburgh. Image: White House

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As part of a $300m innovation package, the White House is to invest $65m in smart cities technologies, which will be coupled with $100m in private investment.

Confessing he is something of a “science geek”, US president Barack Obama unveiled more than $300m in federal investment to support science and technology, including a $165m plan for smart city initiatives.

As we reported in September, the Smart Cities Initiative will spread funding across 25 collaborations that will use big data and analytics. It will also fund other smart technologies to tackle traffic congestion and improve the quality of life in American cities.

‘With nearly two-thirds of Americans living in urban settings, many of our complex challenges—from building transportation that fuels equitable growth, to improved community-police relationships—will require cities of all sizes to be laboratories for innovation’
– THE WHITE HOUSE

Another $70m will go towards researching Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, and other diseases.

The US government will also invest $50m in small satellite technology that will enable high-speed internet in rural areas, as well as $16m for improved medical care.

Smart cities of America

The new smart cities technologies roll-out will look at traffic congestion as well as on-demand mobility services, including smartphone-enabled car sharing, demand-responsive buses and bike sharing.

“With nearly two-thirds of Americans living in urban settings, many of our complex challenges—from building transportation that fuels equitable growth, to improved community-police relationships—will require cities of all sizes to be laboratories for innovation,” the White House said in a statement.

“The rapid pace of social innovation and technological change—from the rise of data science, machine learning, human-centered approaches, artificial intelligence, the sharing economy, citizen science, social networks, and ubiquitous sensor networks to autonomous vehicles—holds significant promise for addressing core local challenges, not only in urban areas, but also in communities throughout the country.

“In fact, further advances in connectivity and network innovations hold promise for ensuring small towns, tribal communities, and rural areas benefit from technological advances and also serve as laboratories for innovation.”

For example: Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Houston, Denver, Los Angeles, Buffalo, and Marysville are all receiving funds targeted at relieving congestion and improving safety of urban transportation networks.

Pittsburgh will receive nearly $11m to execute elements of the vision it developed in its Smart City Challenge application, including deployment of smart traffic signal technology—proven to reduce congestion at street lights by up to 40pc—along major travel corridors.

Denver will also receive approximately $6m to implement components of the vision developed in its Smart City Challenge application, helping to alleviate the congestion caused by a daily influx of 200,000 commuters each working day through connected vehicles.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com