Miami and five other cities receive Knight smart city technology grants

Downtown Miami
Downtown Miami

Major metro areas including Los Angeles, New York and Singapore are already using smart technology to manage traffic, conserve water and energy and participate in government. Barcelona streamlines waste management with smart bins that alert garbage trucks when to collect them.

To that end, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced $1.2 million in support to six cities, including Miami, to explore how the Internet of Things (IoT) — the connection of everyday objects to the Internet — can be deployed in cities responsibly and equitably.

“As cities increasingly use the Internet of Things to reduce costs, increase sustainability and improve services, we need to be acutely aware of its impact — both good and bad,” said John S. Bracken, Knight Foundation vice president for technology innovation, in the announcement. “These cities will help create a model and guidelines for the thoughtful and responsible use of IoT, linking its development to the public’s benefit.”

The city of Miami will use its $200,000 grant to strengthen its ability to share data with community partners for collaborative problem solving. As part of its resilience strategy, the city plans to create an integrated plan identifying the IoT technologies, data processes and high-impact solutions that will most benefit the region.

“Basically, we want to be better at gathering and sharing data so that our friends — universities, software developers, the maker community, other cities — can help us solve our most pressing problems. And if we don’t have the data, we can install some Internet connected sensors around town to gather that data,” said Michael Sarasti, chief innovation officer for the City of Miami, who collaborated on the application for funding with Jane Gilbert, the city’s chief resilience officer. “This is a big deal as we will be directing these resources to resilience and climate change innovation.”

The other city governments receiving support are Akron, Ohio; Boston; Detroit; Philadelphia; and San Jose, California.

Funding for these projects is part of Knight Foundation’s participation in NetGain, a partnership of Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla Foundation and Open Society Foundations to explore public interest technology issues.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg