The Smart and Connected Communities (S&CC) program from the National Science Foundation (NSF) seeks to harness technological advances to improve our quality of life through the establishment of new scientific and engineering foundations. It supports projects that combine scientific advances with community engagement to increase economic opportunities, safety, security, smart growth, and health and wellness. In short, it wants to establish pathways to ensure that new technology will be used for the public good.
The Smart and Connected Communities Program
The National Science Foundation defines community in the context of this grant as tribal regions, towns, counties, neighborhoods, district, and rural areas that have geographically defined boundaries and the ability to engage in meaningful ways with the proposed research activities. It defines a smart and connected community as one that synergistically integrates intelligent technologies with natural and built environments, including infrastructure. The point is to be able to utilize technology to enhance the well being for those who live, work, or visit those communities. All projects should include the following components:
- Integrative research that includes both technological and social aspects of smart and connected communities.
- Community engagement that integrates all stakeholders.
- A management plan for how the project will be managed across various disciplines and entities.
- A plan for evaluating short-, medium- and long-term impacts of proposed proposals.
Selected Past Recipients
- University of Minnesota, MN – Researchers from the University of Minnesota, Florida State University, Purdue University, and the University of Washington will study the effects of "smart" infrastructure in water, energy, food, housing, transportation, and waste management. The multidisciplinary team will investigate how cutting edge technology such as autonomous vehicles, smart energy, green infrastructure and urban farms will impact resident life in neighborhoods in Minneapolis, MN, St. Paul, MN, and Tallahassee, FL. Students and citizen scientists will help the researchers crowdsource data.
- Syracuse Architecture and iSchool, NY – Three faculty members will study the feasibility of a community energy project in Austin, TX. Community energy incorporates demand management and energy storage for small scale solar energy to help improve the reliability of the electric grid while also providing environmental and economic benefits to community members. Findings from this project will serve as a model for similar projects across the country.
- The Indiana Housing and Community Development Agency and Purdue University – This project will determine energy use among study participants. The researchers will then develop ways of providing feedback to residents so they can be informed of how they are using energy and even modify their consumption for conservation purposes.
- University of Michigan – The potential of smart technology to improve aging stormwater systems is the focus of this project. The communities studied include South Bend, IN; Charlottesville, VA; Knoxville, TN; and Ann Arbor, MI, which is already serving as an experimental smart watershed. The ultimate goal is to save lives and property by more efficiently managing floods.
Applying to the Smart & Connected Communities Program
Eligible applicants include Native American tribes and tribal organizations, state and local governments, nonprofits, the private sector, and consortia. The deadline for the letter of intent is January 30, 2018, with the full proposal due February 28, 2018.
Current Status of NSF Funding
The National Science Foundation is an independent U.S. agency that has been promoting scientific progress in the national interest since the 1950s. NSF funding accounts for 24 percent of federally supported pure or basic research at domestic colleges and universities. According to the American Institute of Physics, while President Trump's budget proposal called for an 11 percent reduction in funding for the NSF, the House Appropriations bill would maintain current levels of funding for the agency's research and education functions, while the Senate bill calls for a 2 percent reduction. Check out their Federal Science Budget Tracker to stay current on budgets and appropriations for government agencies that provide science grants.