Safe + Smart Cities | Pilot Project Launched

Posted by Heidi Schwartz

Trabant Center in Newark, DE.
The Trabant Center in Newark, DE. (Photo: City of Newark, DE.)

The Chesapeake Crescent Initiative (CCI), a public-private collaborative founded six years ago to support technological innovation, is leading a “Safe + Smart Cities” coalition to help cities optimize their operational performance and harden their resiliency through the efficient use of technology. The coalition has selected the city of Newark, DE for its first pilot, to be followed by a second one to be announced later this fall.

CCI has assembled a group of experts from technology industries, academia, government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the law and the financial sector to provide pro bono expertise and recommendations to selected municipalities in the mid-Atlantic region of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. The recommendations are intended to provide pragmatic and feasible options to help visionary urban communities achieve or exceed their “safe and smart” objectives while also increasing global competitiveness, sustaining regional economic growth and improving citizens’ lives.

CCI selected Newark, home to the University of Delaware, for its initial pilot project due to local and state-level visionary leadership. Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a member of the President’s Task Force on Climate Change, issued his own Executive Order on climate change and resiliency last year. The City of Newark has championed progressive, citizen-focused initiatives designed to improve community services, such as the installation of smart energy and water meters, making it an ideal site for the initiative’s first pilot.

“This project provides a tremendous opportunity for the City of Newark to build on our state’s efforts both to operate more efficiently and enhance our resiliency so we mitigate the damage of disaster situations before they happen,” said Gov. Markell. “The strategies developed as a result of this effort will allow us to maximize our limited resources in a way that best serves the citizens of Delaware.”

“Newark, DE is honored to serve as the first pilot community for the Safe + Smart Cities coalition,” said Newark City Manager Carol Houck. “My staff and I are looking forward to participating in this collaborative process and we are cognizant of the tangible benefits to be derived from the opportunity. Improving the livability of our community through an increased use of technology, embracing operational efficiencies, and focusing on sustainability are among our prime goals, which align well with the objectives of the initiative.”

The Newark pilot project will kick off with a collaborative discovery workshop to focus on municipality’s technological maturity, its particular risks and vulnerabilities, status of its  infrastructure, and what tools could be used to help implement the city’s “safe and smart” vision. The product of this collaborative session will be a Safe + Smart City “blueprint,” which will outline “big picture” recommendations for improving and integrating critical hard and soft infrastructure functions including buildings, public safety, energy, transportation, water/wastewater, and information and communication technologies (ICT).

The initiative will merge strategies for improving both resiliency and “smart city” technology in a distinctive way. “Since 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, improving urban areas’ resiliency—how well they cope with both natural and man-made disasters—has become a priority,” explained Herb Miller, Co-Founder and Vice Chair of CCI. “At the same time, cities also have focused on how to use technology to improve their operational efficiency, sustainability, livability, and connectivity to their constituents. But these approaches are often pursued through separate channels with different stakeholders, even though they have many core commonalities.”

“At CCI, our work with academia, government and industry led us to see the critical need for a cross-sector, integrated approach to making cities both safer and smarter,” added Stephanie Carnes, Managing Director of CCI. “We envision that this coalition and the program’s framework will be of service to Newark and its citizens while also generating broader lessons which can then be applied as a reference model for many other municipalities and the nation as a whole.”

As the lead organization in the Safe + Smart Cities pilot program, CCI will build on its existing relationships with public and private sector leaders as well as its mission to advance innovation through new models of public and private sector collaboration. The coalition will coordinate directly with the Delaware state government as well as Federal government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to ensure that the resulting recommendations are aligned with State and Federal policy objectives. 

The ultimate objective of this pilot project is to develop a tangible, actionable and comprehensive Safe + Smart Cities program that can:

  • improve the overall operations and management of local government, both day to day as well as in times of adversity;
  • expand capabilities in urban data collection, analysis, and dissemination;
  • purposefully create beneficial new linkages among community residents;
  • help democratize and expand individual citizens’ participation in government; and
  • create an effective, replicable model of public-private collaboration.

The Chesapeake Crescent Initiative (CCI) is a regional collaborative to advance innovation in energy, life sciences, and security in the “Chesapeake Crescent” region of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia.