For Immediate Release: April 7, 2015
Creating “Smart Cities” Takes People Power
USDN Releases Report Assessing Technology Opportunities and Challenges
Washington, D.C. – April 7, 2015 – Today, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) released an in-depth guide Getting Smart About Smart Cities for North American cities seeking to address sustainability challenges by harnessing big data and smart cities technologies.
The guide is the result of a competitive award to the City of Houston, Texas from the network’s Innovation Fund, which pools foundation funding to spur collaborative innovation among 136 North American member cities.
The guide was released at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy event, which – in part – highlighted the efforts of USDN and its partners Nutter Consulting and the Institute of Sustainable Communities (ISC). This team worked to foster stronger and more productive partnerships between cities and the technology companies that create smart and sustainable city solutions.
According to forecasts from GeSI SMARTer 2020 report, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 9.1 gigatons in the next five years. That is the equivalent of taking 1.73 billion cars off the road.
“North American cities are working hard to meet ambitious sustainability goals that will significantly reduce carbon emissions,” said USDN Managing Director Nils Moe. “Many of our cities must reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050 to meet local targets. We need game-changing tools to make this happen, and technology is a key component to their success.”
Getting Smart about Smart Cities was developed by examining the current smart cities terrain in depth, conducting a comprehensive literature review and industry interviews, and hosting a summit with sustainability directors and innovation officers from 12 cities in the U.S. and Canada. The guide was designed to help cities advance mission-driven innovation as well as provide municipal perspectives to the smart city technology sector. It details the challenges and opportunities faced by cities dealing with a massive influx of data and rapidly changing information needs. The guide also unveils seven best practices that North American cities are currently using to embrace technology advances. These best practices help cities better interface with, and serve, citizens while making communities economically, socially, and environmentally responsible.
“The City of Houston is proud to be leading USDN’s smart cities work. It’s time for cities to harness the benefits of technology to meet sustainability goals and keep pace with data solutions,” said Laura Spanjian, Director of Sustainability for the City of Houston.
Melanie Nutter, the Former Director of San Francisco’s Environment Department and Principal of Nutter Consulting, and Michael Crowley, Senior Program Officer at ISC worked directly with USDN member cities to develop the guide.
“Cities need solutions. The rapid spread of new technologies and big data can and should serve the sustainability goals of cities and the citizens they serve,” said Nutter. “Whether their aim is to achieve zero waste, carbon neutrality or greener transportation, municipal leaders need more options to enable further progress at the local level.”
“We have received clarity around what cities want to get out of Smart Cities technology,” said ISC Senior Program Officer Mike Crowley. “Now the task is to bring the technology firms, city leaders and citizens together to create smart, healthy and vibrant cities.”
For Public Health Week, USDN, Nutter Consulting and ISC today committed to developing a sustainable technology toolkit and framework. This will further assist cities in deploying new technologies and using data to reduce carbon emissions and protect public health.
The new toolkit will examine primary city operations and infrastructure such as waste, buildings, transportation, infrastructure, energy, and citizen engagement. It will feature specific technologies and techniques, exemplary companies, deployment benefits, challenges, and key metrics for success.
According to The Guide to Greening Cities (Island Press), nearly 60 percent, or five billion people, of the world’s population will live in a city by 2030. The greater concentration of urban population creates health challenges and opportunities in social, economic, and environmental arenas.
The full guide, Getting Smart About Smart Cities, and the four-page industry guidance are available here: http://usdn.org/public/Innovation.html
About the Urban Sustainability Directors Network
The Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) is a peer-to-peer network of local government professionals from cities across the United States and Canada dedicated to creating a healthier environment, economic prosperity, and increased social equity. http://usdn.org/
About Nutter Consulting
Nutter Consulting helps cities, foundations and businesses leverage innovation strategies and smart cities tools to meet their sustainability goals. Led by Melanie Nutter, a noted urban sustainability expert and smart cities advisor, Nutter Consulting specializes in advancing carbon emission reduction and climate adaptation efforts through program development, strategic planning, public policy development, communications strategy and coalition building.
About the Institute for Sustainable Communities
An international nonprofit organization, the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) has 24 years of practical experience working with local leaders to accelerate climate change and sustainability solutions. ISC’s programs are designed to facilitate peer learning and engagement among local leaders charged with the work of making their communities more sustainable. ISC has led more than 103 projects in 30 countries, and currently works in China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand and the United States. www.sustain.org