by Katherine Bates, NTIA

Communities across the country are increasingly turning to smart technology to enhance their local economies, build sustainable workforces and improve public service delivery. Building smart electrical grids and intelligent transportation systems, connecting street lights to the Internet for data-gathering, improving remote education opportunities -- these activities allow communities to better serve their constituents while maximizing limited resources.

Smart technologies require robust broadband. Planning and implementing broadband projects and smart community initiatives requires specific expertise and significant funding. Successful projects build on partnerships with Internet service providers, businesses, community anchor institutions, and others to defray costs, provide technical knowledge, improve efficiency, and increase buy-in from the larger community.

National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) BroadbandUSA works with broadband stakeholders to catalyze broadband connectivity and lay the groundwork for smart technology solutions. BroadbandUSA provides technical assistance, convenes workshops, and develops educational tools and resources to support planning efforts, identify funding opportunities, and implement broadband and smart community programs. Online resources BroadbandUSA has developed include:  

  • Using Partnerships to Power a Smart City: A Toolkit for Local Communities: This toolkit identifies factors to consider when building partnerships for smart community efforts, including what to look for in a partner, how to assess each contribution and guidance on how to structure successful partnership agreements.
  • Introduction to Effective Public-Private Partnerships: This resource provides an overview of common broadband partnerships, the components of a successful partnership model and tips and best practices developed from NTIA’s oversight of $4.5 billion in federal broadband grants to projects across the country.
  • Public Wi-Fi Supercluster Blueprint: BroadbandUSA partnered with NIST, the National Science Foundation and stakeholders to develop this practical “how-to” guide for deploying a public Wi-Fi system to advance digital inclusion, economic development, and the Internet of Things (IoT) efforts.
  • Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things: NTIA contributed to this Department of Commerce publication, which identifies key issues that impact the deployment IoT technologies, highlights potential benefits and challenges for deployment and discusses the role the U.S. Government and the Department of Commerce should play in this evolving landscape.

Planning broadband and smart community projects can be daunting, but BroadbandUSA’s role as a solution-neutral advisor can help. Please visit the BroadbandUSA booth at the exhibition hall at ICMA’s Annual Conference or consult the BroadbandUSA website, which features additional toolkits and resources to help explain broadband’s value to your community, engage stakeholders and evaluate project costs. If you cannot attend the conference but are interested in learning more about our resources and technical assistance program, contact us at or 202-482-2048.

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