Guest Post: Georgia Tech Initiative Aims to Lift Communities with Smart Technology

Georgia Tech Initiative Aims to Lift Communities with Smart Technology: Inaugural Grant Winners Selected for the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge

By Kristi Kirkland, Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation, Georgia Institute of Technology


Georgia Smart Communities Challenge announcement in Albany, GA

The Georgia Smart Communities Challenge, a Georgia Tech-led initiative, is a new program that brings together industry and public agencies to help local governments implement smart development. The competitive program provides seed funding and access to technical assistance, expert advice, and a network of peers. A unique feature of the program is that a Georgia Tech researcher will advise and conduct research in support of each group’s goals. The teams will each receive $50,000 in grants and $25,000 from Georgia Tech in research support. The selected communities each raised an additional $50,000. Georgia Power is the lead sponsor of the program, with additional financial support from the Atlanta Regional Commission.

Since 2015, Georgia Tech has partnered with the City of Atlanta to institutionalize smart cities’ research and development into city operations. The Georgia Smart Challenge has allowed us to branch out to other parts of our state to assist communities in implementing smart design solutions to a myriad of challenges they face. The program supports communities of all sizes, including smaller towns, which may not have been as prominent in smart development because of a lack of resources and attention. While each team is led by a local government, the work will be a collaboration between different government agencies and nonprofits.

The inaugural challenge received 17 proposal submissions, showing there is genuine interest and enthusiasm across the state for smart technology and development. The inaugural winning communities include Albany, Chamblee, Chatham County, and Gwinnett County. Their projects tackle a variety of topics including housing, improved mobility through shared autonomous vehicles, sea-level rise, and traffic management technologies to improve traffic congestion.

The challenge encourages local governments to work with neighboring communities, non-profits, and private industry, and the selected communities demonstrate that cities of all sizes can benefit from collaborative smart development efforts. Other cities will not be excluded from the broad Georgia Smart community as we remain committed to supporting smart development throughout the state. The strategies developed by the selected communities will serve as models that could be implemented elsewhere across the state.

Additional Georgia Smart partners include: Association County Commissioners of Georgia, Georgia Centers for Innovation, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Georgia Municipal Association, Global City Challenges, Metro Atlanta Chamber, and Technology Association of Georgia.

More information on the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge can be found here.

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