Cantwell, DelBene, Luján Introduce Smart Cities Bill

Legislators Champion Bicameral Legislation To Bring U.S. Communities Into The 21st Century

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA), and Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced legislation to promote the advancement of smart cities.

“We can’t afford to replace aging infrastructure with anything but smart infrastructure, and our bill does just that.  The bill makes this technology accessible to local governments so they can make smart investments that attract businesses, create jobs, and improve critical infrastructure while boosting services, livability and the health of residents,” said Senator Cantwell.  “In a time of shrinking local government budgets this bill allows us to bring smart technologies to our cities so that communities of all sizes can better serve their citizens.”

“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,” Rep. DelBene said. “At a time when so much of the public discourse is about supporting the jobs of tomorrow and making government work for the citizens it serves, the chance to build smart communities in every corner of America should be something we can all agree on. The investments and policy improvements we propose here can improve the quality of life in our communities, reduce pollution and spur job-growth in 21st century jobs.”

“Smart infrastructure has the potential to make our communities safer, more efficient, healthier, and more sustainable. But these advances shouldn’t just be reserved for major cities and Silicon Valley,” noted Rep. Luján. “Our legislation will help guarantee that smaller and rural communities aren’t left behind and will prevent the creation of a new digital divide by testing smart infrastructure solutions in communities of all sizes. The bill also provides assistance to communities that want to implement and develop these solutions, and will promote the development of a technology skilled workforce,” said Rep. Luján.

The bill was developed in collaboration with cities across the country, as well as telecommunications and information technology companies, and authorizes $220 million for each of 5 years. The bill will also:

• Enhance federal coordination of smart city programs, including improved reporting and demonstration of the value and utility of smart city systems.

• Provide assistance and resources to local governments interested in implementing smart city technologies. 

• Develop a skilled and technology savvy domestic workforce to support smart cities. 

• Improve the quality and performance of smart city technologies while assessing and enhancing cybersecurity and privacy protections. 

• Foster international collaboration and trade in smart city technologies.

Smart city projects across the country are already demonstrating value and reducing costs for communities. Urbanova, the Spokane, WA living laboratory brings together leaders in utility infrastructure, smart metering and communications, higher education, energy efficiency, population health, and urban planning to create a smart city proving ground in the heart of the city. 

“Urbanova harnesses data to gain insights, empower people and solve urban challenges that achieve economic, social, and environmental equity and resilience,” said Kim Zentz, managing director, “We are leveraging our mid-sized city advantages to attract scalable and replicable projects that can be applied in cites anywhere to get people-centered results making communities safer, smarter and healthier. The Smart Cities and Communities Act of 2017 reinforces the federal-local partnership necessary to improve the quality of life in communities as they become more densely populated.”

The City of Seattle is partnering with the University of Washington and Argonne National Laboratory to deploy an array of sensors across the city to improve hyper-local weather forecasting to reduce flash flooding.  

“Technologies from low cost sensors to real-time data analytics are helping cities like Seattle operate more efficiently, create economic opportunities, and improve their communities’ quality of life. This legislation will help more local governments implement these smart cities technologies and realize their benefits,” said Chief Innovation Officer for Seattle, Michael Mattmiller.

The smart city market estimates show rapid growth in the coming years, and the number of internet-connected devices is expected to grow from 6.6 million in 2016 to 22.5 billion in 2021.  City governments are expected to spend $41 trillion over the next 20 years on smart tech to upgrade their infrastructure to benefit from the internet of things, according to the Smart America Challenge.  A 2015 study found that a $1 increase in government tech investment saves nearly $4.   

Smart Cities Council Chairman, Jesse Berst said, “In this era of global competition, the smart cities movement is not just a trend, it is a race. A race for jobs and talent. A race for cleaner, safer, more livable cities. A race for financial and environmental sustainability. As other parts of the world move rapidly towards smart infrastructure and smart cities, we urgently need the federal leadership, guidance and coordination this bill provides.”