Featured by Future Structure.

For city governments, getting the most out of their digital transformations requires planning, engagement with residents and the ability to measure the impact of their investments. But because of limited resources and the demands of their day-to-day work, sometimes cities can be reactive to grant announcements or vendor pilot projects, leading to disjointed efforts.

Several nonprofit foundations and academic centers have focused their efforts on supporting planning and development, best practice guideline creation, and cross-pollination between cities. Each has its own area of expertise and focus. Some are grant-making organizations, while others have received grants from the federal government and foundations to bring together city departments and researchers to develop tools and new approaches. Here are profiles of six of the organizations having a significant impact on how smart cities are developing across the country.


The Bloomberg Administration’s “Applied Sciences NYC” initiative made underused city-owned properties available to universities if they would start or expand applied sciences or engineering programs. In 2012 NYU took the administration up on its offer and created the Center for Urban Science & Progress (CUSP), now housed at an old transit headquarters building in downtown Brooklyn.

“Our mission is to develop tools of data science to help city agencies do what they do better,” said Mike Holland, executive director. “We have a one-year master’s degree program. The goal is to equip students with data science tools plus the urban context to effectively apply those tools in a coherent way.”