DelBene, Cantwell Introduce Bill to Boost Smart Cities

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By Michaela Ross

Rep. Suzan DelBene and Sen. Maria Cantwell unveiled legislation Oct. 2 that would authorize a $1.1 billion, five-year initiative to improve U.S. infrastructure through smart city technologies.

DelBene (D-Wash.) and Cantell (D-Wash.) are aiming to bolster federal resources, reporting and coordination with localities to ensure communities of all sizes can better implement sensors, data analytics and software to upgrade government services. Dozens of urban areas in the U.S. have begun using smart city technologies developed by companies such as Verizon Communications Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc.

“The United States has been an unmatched leader in innovation, and if we want to stay on top, we need to be proactive about the huge opportunities that come with investing in emerging smart city technologies,” DelBene told Bloomberg BNA in a statement about the legislation (H.R. 3895).

The U.S. is lagging behind other countries in smart city development because of a lack of understanding of the technologies as well as constrained city budgets, DelBene said in her statement. The bill would promote best practices and improve federal coordination efforts to provide more municipalities with the resources and assistance to leverage the technologies. The lawmakers aim to include smaller and medium size communities that may be hesitant to invest in large-scale projects without evidence of their savings potential or a road map for implementation.

The U.S. Commerce secretary would lead a council of federal Cabinet secretaries under the bill, including from the Transportation and Energy departments, that would coordinate the funding and promotion of smart cities activities. The council would also convene a cybersecurity working group to determine if voluntary or mandatory standards are needed for connected devices, known as the internet of things (IoT), that fuel smart cities infrastructure.

The bill would establish two grant programs. One program would support pilots of smart cities technologies to demonstrate scalable strategies that can be repeated in other communities. Another grant program would fund job training and education initiatives that focus on smart city technology and infrastructure.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michaela Ross in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at

For More Information

The Senate version of the legislation is available at

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