An Open Invitation to the SmartAmerica Challenge

The event will showcase how technology can boost the economy and improve lives

29 May 2014

Photo: NIST

The Smart Emergency Response System incorporates robots and sensors alongside rescue dogs and emergency responders to help save lives when disaster strikes. The team that designed the project will present at this year's SmartAmerica Challenge in Washington, D.C. on 11 June.

For the past six months, teams participating in the SmartAmerica Challenge have been working hard to build novel applications for cyber-physical systems (CPS), sometimes referred to as the Internet of Things. This involves connecting smart devices and systems among diverse sectors such as energy, health care, and manufacturing in fundamentally new ways. On 11 June, the teams will meet at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., to show how CPS can create new business opportunities and improve services and even save lives.

The challenge was launched in December 2013 as part of the White House Presidential Innovation Fellows program. The goal is to demonstrate the benefits of an interconnected world, while also providing examples of how these technologies and their applications can help create jobs and improve the American economy. At the end of the day, the SmartAmerica Challenge aims to help create and grow a thriving community of researchers and practitioners by forming public-private partnerships.

The 24 teams, which include participants from more than 100 companies, government agencies, and universities, will come together to share their technical accomplishments in the areas of climate and environment, cybersecurity, emergency response, health care, smart energy, transportation, and more. While the development of CPS has come a long way, there is still a gap in its adoption by most industries and consumers. Many applications are sector-specific, fragmented, and siloed, which is not useful in bringing the technology to its utmost potential. We hope to disrupt this model through this event.

During the Expo, each team will present its project, focusing on how the technology will help the economic goals associated with the challenge. Demonstrations at this year’s event will include autonomous vehicles for military use, personalized data collection for health care, and technologies for smart cities. A complete list of projects are available on the website.

The Expo will feature keynote speakers Todd Park, the White House’s Chief Technology Officer, and Dan Tangherlini, head of the U.S. General Services Administration. Other speakers include representatives from the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, among other agencies.

Inspired by the challenge, local events have taken place around the country, one on CPS applications for health care in Boston in March, disaster response technologies in Seattle in May, and an upcoming session on city revitalization in Detroit in July.

For those who will be in the Washington, D.C., area on 11 June, join us at the free event that is open to the public. Click here for more information and to register.

Sokwoo Rhee and Geoff Mulligan are Presidential Innovation Fellows currently working at NIST.

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