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Higgins supports Buffalo's application for 'SMART Cities' challenge


Fri, Jan 29th 2016 05:25 pm

Buffalo in the running for new $40 million multifaceted federal grant program that supports the use of technology to address community challenges

Congressman Brian Higgins is backing a federal grant application submitted by the Niagara International Transportation Technology Coalition (NITTEC), in partnership with the City of Buffalo, Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council (GBNRTC) and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority for the U.S. Department of Transportation's "Beyond Traffic: The SMART City Challenge."

"This coordinated transportation and community enhancement initiative is a great opportunity for one community to become a model for technology-driven planning toward the goal of an improved quality of life," Higgins said. "We want Buffalo be the city where that happens."

Athena Hutchins, executive director of NITTEC, said, "This is a unique opportunity that will build on the successful collaboration already in place within the region. The successful partnerships in planning, systems operations, technology deployment and the working relationships between the public and private entities will help move us to the next level of an instrumented, interconnected and intelligent city using technology to solve transportation-related issues."

GBNRTC Executive Director Hal Morse added, "The incredible partnership that has evolved to prepare this application illustrates the spirit of the new Buffalo. Winning this competition will advance our transportation system a whole decade into the future."

"The City of Buffalo and the Buffalo-Niagara region are on the move. The NFTA continues its proud tradition of modeling the type of transportation - clean, efficient, environmentally friendly and technologically advanced - that the public and new economy require for success," said Kimberley A. Minkel, executive director of the NFTA. "This application is a great example of the collaborative, data-driven and constant information sharing approach that the NFTA and its partners across the region use to deliver cost-effective, quality transportation services every day.

"I want to thank the congressman for his support for this application and his work in writing a new story for a new and better Buffalo area."

Applications for the "SMART City Challenge" are due next week. Buffalo is one of 64 cities nationwide deemed eligible for the initiative, which is aimed at midsized cities. Five finalists, expected to be announced in March, will each receive $100,000 in federal funding for development and planning toward the SMART City concept and goals.

In June, the USDOT will choose one of the five finalists to receive an estimated $40 million in federal funding. In addition, Vulcan Inc. has committed to providing $10 million in funding to the winning city, for a total public-private award of $50 million.

First announced by the White House in September, the SMART Cities Challenge is aimed at helping communities use technology to address infrastructure issues, protect the environment, respond to climate change, connect underserved communities and support economic vitality.

Higgins applauded the initiative of NITTEC, the City of Buffalo and its partners in pursuing this federal award.

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