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US backs smart cities collaboration with Europe at tech expo

(L-R): Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, King Willem-Alexander and Willie May, Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology, at the Global City Teams Challenge Expo in Washington DC

The White House Deputy Policy Director for Science and Technology has backed closer smart city collaboration with Europe.

Speaking at the Global City Teams Challenge Expo, a collaboration between US Ignite and National Institute of Standards and Technology, held at the National Building Museum in Washington DC, Tom Kalil revealed to Cities Today that the US administration supports cross-collaboration with Europe over the development of smart cities.

“There has been a lot of interest in collaborating with our colleagues in Europe to see what we can learn from each other,” said Kalil. “There’s a technical dimension to the collaboration, there’s the economic and societal problems that we’re trying to solve from a specific point of view, there’s a question about how you finance and the question about how you engage the public in co-designing these efforts. All of these issues can be strengthened by collaboration with European cities.”

Kalil was one of three leading US government officials to address the Global City Teams Challenge which explored ways that technology is transforming health, consumer, transport and security. Other speakers included Anthony Foxx, Transportation Secretary, and Dr Willie May, Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology.

Dr May said: “As more people move into cities, we will need to operate them in ways that minimise the use of scarce resources, maximise value for taxpayers and protect the environment.”

The Global City Teams Challenge Expo attracted city planners, CIOs, entrepreneurs and the mayors of cities ranging from Austin, Texas, to Amsterdam, all keen to see the latest cutting-edge technology initiatives that can be aligned with cities whether taking the form of drones, new mobile apps or transport networks.

The event hosted projects from 64 teams with a quarter of exhibitors from Europe. This was triple the number of exhibitors that presented at last year’s event. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands were royal guests of honour at the expo which placed special focus on ways that Amsterdam has become a leading global smart city.

Notable projects included a fibre optic network that has been developed in schools in Ammon, Idaho, that enables law enforcement to respond more quickly to shootings, Link NYC, a project that is turning New York public phone booths into Wi-Fi hotspots, andChesapeake Crescent Initiative, a Safe and Smart Cities Pilot Project in Alexandria, Virginia, a technological initiative that seeks to improve economic and electric resiliency and efficiency in cities.

Other eyecatching initiatives included a collaboration between Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT) and the city of Boston that is pioneering a driverless transport vehicle, the Persuasive Electric Vehicle.

Sertac Karaman, Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, said: “Imagine calling an Uber but a tricycle comes. As soon as you leave it, it goes to the next customer and when it has spare time it can also deliver packages. Certain technology has been coming together this year to enable autonomy in a very affordable way. We’re at the point where we can make things work with cameras and embedded computers.”