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Mega Tech for Non-Megacities

The Center for Technology in Government's Smart Cities initiative has been lauded and recommended by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 29, 2016) — Technologically speaking, cities are longing to get smarter.

Smarter translates into incorporating technology — what is known as the “Internet of Things,” or IoT — into their everyday operations. But this requires a heap of learning and management that most mid and smaller-sized cities in America may not be prepared to handle.

According to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), UAlbany’s Center for Technology in Government (CTG) is a go-to resource for these cities. In a fact sheet released on Monday outlining smart-city related initiatives happening around the country, the White House called CTG one of the most helpful sources for small to medium-sized cities trying to become “smart” and better integrate technology.

OSTP pointed out that three action-oriented “playbooks” to be written by CTG will be of particular value to these cities as they try to innovate in areas ranging from streetlights that automatically dim in response to a lack of movement, to sensors that monitor water mains for leaks, to parking lots connected to mobile phones that alert you about where public parking is available, and much more.

Meghan Cook, program director for CTG’s Governing the City program, said CTG is thrilled to be recognized by OSTP for its work with cities. “The series of three action-oriented guidebooks CTG is creating, which are in addition to an already expansive smart cities portfolio, will be a great resource for small to medium-sized cities as they increasingly look to incorporate more technology and create better public value for their citizens,” said Cook.

Megacities such as New York City are trailblazing the IoT movement and successfully incorporating new technology seemingly daily, while smaller to medium-sized cities have the same challenges to address, such as data ownership and stewardship questions, cyber security, privacy, etc., but with fewer resources: less manpower, less funding, etc.

The playbooks CTG is developing include:

Rightsizing Smarter: One Size Does Not Fit All: An Action Guide for Small to Medium Sized City and Municipal Governments. This guide will help cities better understand the landscape, terminology, and core concepts of a smarter city. Provide new and different approaches particular to smaller cities for pursuing a smarter city agenda.

Data Stewardship in the Age of IoT: It’s More Than Just a Sensor: To fully realize the benefits of IoT, cities must be aware of and create capability to manage the realities and risks, such as data stewardship and data ownership, and be aware of the new kinds of vulnerabilities introduced through the use of sensors. This guide will outline a set of critical questions that local governments must ask themselves and provide a set of capabilities they’ll require.

CyberSecurity Essentials for Small to Medium Sized Cities: While most megacities have large dedicated teams to manage their day-to-day cyber presence and lead their overall security strategy, this is rarely the case in small to mid-sized cities. Yet the threat to these cities is just as real, with a breach potentially having a ripple effect on partners of all kinds, large and small and across the sectors. This guide will present essential elements of cybersecurity for government that may not have the expertise in-house, but who still need to be proactive with cybersecurity.

This White House announcement is another example of CTG’s centrality in the global effort to promote smarter cities. The Center is part of two major smart cities networks in the U.S., including the Metrolab Network and the US Ignite Global Cities Team Challenge, and leads the international Smart Cities Smart Government Research Practice Consortium. It has fielded requests for presentations at Smart Cities Conferences in Washington D.C., Barcelona, Vienna, Chicago, among others.

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