Tag Archives: White House

White House Issues Report on Continuing Need to Rethink School Discipline

President Obama discusses education, education reform, pro-growth agenda at Pathways in Technology Early College High School, Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NY, Oct 25, 2013.
President Obama discusses education, education reform, pro-growth agenda at Pathways in Technology Early College High School, Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NY, Oct 25, 2013 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Public schools in some instances have been accused of being part of a “schools to prison” pipeline. Indeed, many schools today operate more like prisons than places to promote a lifelong love of learning and instill the tools for independent thinking, problem solving and creative strategies. –  Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

The White House has just released a new capstone report with updates about projects launched and local progress made in response to the Administration’s Rethink Discipline efforts. Rethink Discipline was launched as part of President Barack Obama’s My Brothers’ Keeper initiative and aims to support all students and promote a welcome and safe climate in schools. The full report is available HERE.

The White House will also convene stakeholders and leaders to discuss the progress made and the work ahead to encourage and support local leaders as they work to implement supportive school discipline practices. Today’s meeting in the Roosevelt Room will include remarks by Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Cabinet Secretary and Chair of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force Broderick Johnson, Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz and Secretary of Education John King.

As noted in a joint Department of Education and Department Health and Human Services Policy Statement, suspension and expulsion can contribute to  a number of adverse outcomes for childhood development in areas such as personal health, interactions with the criminal justice system, and education.

The 2013-14 Civil Rights Data Collection reveals that out-of-school suspensions decreased by nearly 20 percent compared to the 2011-12 school year. However, 2.8 million students received out-of-school suspensions in the 2013-14 school year, representing approximately 6% of all students enrolled in elementary and secondary schools.

The application of exclusionary discipline practices is especially significant for students of color and students with disabilities, who, in general, are disciplined more often than their classmates.  As stated in the Department of Education’s First Look brief about 2013-14 CRDC data, in preschool, black children are 3.6 times more likely to be suspended than white children. In K-12, black students are 3.8 times more likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions compared to white students. Students with disabilities are more than twice as likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions as students without disabilities.

Addressing these disparities and rethinking discipline have remained top priorities of the Administration, which has focused attention on the importance of school disciplinary approaches that foster safe, supportive, and productive learning environments in which students can thrive. 

Announcements made as part of this comprehensive effort include:

  • Supportive School Discipline Initiative: In 2011, the Departments of Education and Justice announced the launch of a collaborative project to support the use of school discipline practices that foster safe, supportive, and productive learning environments while keeping students in school. A cornerstone of this Initiative is the School Discipline Consensus Project, managed by the Council of State Governments and supported by various philanthropic organizations. The Consensus Project brought together practitioners from various fields to develop consensus recommendations to dismantle the “school-to-prison pipeline.”
  • Joint Federal Policy and Legal Guidance: Education and Justice jointly released a School Climate and Discipline Guidance Package in 2014 to provide schools with a roadmap to reduce the usage of exclusionary discipline practices and clarify schools’ civil rights obligation to not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin in the administration of school discipline.
  • #RethinkDiscipline Convening and Public Awareness Campaign: The Departments of Education and Justice launched Rethink Discipline at the White House in July of 2015, convening school district teams, including superintendents, some law enforcement practitioners, and justice officials from across the country and sparking a national dialogue around punitive school discipline policies and practices that exclude students from classroom instruction and targeted supports.
  • Rethink School Discipline – Resource Guide for Superintendent Action: As a part of Rethink Discipline, the Department of Education developed a resource guide with a set of potential action items to help school leaders implement safe, supportive school climate and discipline by engaging stakeholders, assessing the results and history of existing school climate and discipline systems and practices; implementing reform; and monitoring progress.
  • Support for State and Local Educational Leaders and Partners from Other Systems: In 2015, the Department of Justice launched the National Resource Center for School Justice Partnerships to advance school discipline reform efforts and serve as a dynamic resource hub for schools, law enforcement agencies, and others to support school discipline reform efforts at the local level.
  • Fostering Safe and Supportive Learning Environments: In 2016, the Department of Education released the ED School Climate Surveys and the Quick Guide on Making School Climate Improvements to help foster and sustain safe and more nurturing environments that are conducive to learning for all students.
  • Addressing Implicit Bias and Discipline Disparities in Early Childhood Settings: In 2016, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services announced a new investment of $1 million in the Pyramid Equity Project to establish national models for addressing issues of implicit bias, and uneven implementation of discipline, including expulsions and suspensions, in early learning programs.
  • Providing Guidance to Schools on Ensuring Equity and Providing Behavioral Supports to Students with Disabilities: In 2016, the Department of Education announced the release of a significant guidance document in the form of a Dear Colleague Letter, which emphasized the requirement that schools provide positive behavioral supports to students with disabilities who need them. It also clarified that the repeated use of disciplinary actions may suggest that many children with disabilities may not be receiving appropriate behavioral interventions and supports. Also included was a Summary for Stakeholders.
  • Transforming School Climate: In the 2016 Investing in Innovation Program, the Department supports innovative approaches to creating a supporting school climate. This priority builds on the #RethinkDiscipline campaign to increase awareness about the detrimental impacts of exclusionary discipline, the Department’s investment in School Climate Transformation Grants to help states and districts strengthen behavioral supports for students, and a school discipline guidance package to clarify schools’ obligation not to discriminate on the basis of race in discipline.
  • Best Practices and Procedures for School Resource Officers: In September of 2016, U.S. Departments of Education and U.S. Justice released new tools to assist states, districts and schools in the implementation of best practices for the appropriate use of school resource officers (SROs). The release is the result of collaborative work between both Departments to define the best use of law enforcement officers when utilized within a school environment. The Departments also jointly released the Safe, School-based Enforcement through Collaboration, Understanding, and Respect (SECURe) Rubrics. These resources are designed to help education and law enforcement agencies that use SROs to review and, if necessary, revise SRO-related policies in alignment with common-sense action steps that can lead to improved school safety and better outcomes for students while safeguarding their civil rights.
  • Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools: Last month, ED sent a letter urging state leaders to end the use of corporal punishment in schools, a practice repeatedly linked to harmful short-term and long-term outcomes for students. The letter from the Secretary was sent to governors and chief state school officers and provided links to resources that can be promoted by those state leaders and adopted by district and school leaders.

White House Highlights Actions to Expand Paid Sick Leave, Gather Data to Fight for Equal Pay

Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez discussed two new actions to support working Americans.   First, the Department of Labor is finalizing a rule to require employees of businesses doing work on federal contracts to earn up to seven paid sick days a year.  Second, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is collecting data to improve enforcement of our nation’s equal pay laws © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez discussed two new actions to support working Americans. First, the Department of Labor is finalizing a rule to require employees of businesses doing work on federal contracts to earn up to seven paid sick days a year. Second, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is collecting data to improve enforcement of our nation’s equal pay laws © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“A woman deserves equal pay for equal work.  She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job.  A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too.”— President Barack Obama, 2014 State of the Union Address 

Today the White House is highlighting two new actions to further support working Americans.   First, the Department of Labor is finalizing a rule to require employees of businesses doing work on federal contracts to earn up to seven paid sick days a year.  Second, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is publishing its final and approved collection of summary pay data by gender, race, and ethnicity from businesses with 100 or more employees to improve enforcement of our nation’s equal pay laws.

In a White House conference call with reporters, Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania applauded the Administration’s actions, noting that he has been in public office for less than two years, but prior, “I was a business owner, employed up to 600-700 employees. We did all these things – paid sick leave, personal time off, holidays, long vacation time. These were not a cost to the business, they made business sense with lower turnover, better morale, healthier employees, better productivity.

“One of the things we must acknowledge: it’s not just a fair thing, a matter of public health, public good, but something that is good for business. “

More than one million workers will not have to depend on the kindness of employers because of these new rules. “Workers shouldn’t have to win the boss lottery or geographic lottery to win access to paid sick leave,” commented Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair Jenny Yang.

Contrary to the “sky is falling” reaction of many private employers, Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez noted, in places where earned sick leave has been implemented – including San Francisco, Tacoma Washington, New York City and Connecticut – employers are by a wide margin satisfied.  “When the law into effect [in these places] they had trepidation, but what they saw was that were able to adjust and in fact thrive.” Indeed, customers may be miffed if a waiter sneezes on their plate; other employees can be taken ill because of a worker with a flu could not afford to stay home.

“The beauty of incubators of innovation like Philadelphia, Connecticut, San Francisco, and Tacoma is that we have track record to build on and tremendous confidence that building on this part of the social contract is both good for workers, public health, families and not an undue burden on business.

“Bringing fairness and balance to workplace is really not something that should be seen as expense.”

FACT SHEET: Helping Working Americans Get Ahead by Expanding Paid Sick Leave and Fighting for Equal Pay

Since taking office, President Obama has promoted policies to grow and strengthen the middle class by supporting working families.  Despite tremendous changes that have transformed America and its families over the past 50 years, our workplaces have not kept pace.  In most families today, both parents work and share in the responsibilities of caring for children or other family members. Recently released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that these efforts have resulted in strong progress for America’s working families.  Today, a record share of private sector workers now have access to paid sick leave, increasing from 61 to 64 percent over the past year.  Furthermore, this increase was driven almost entirely by increased access in low-wage jobs: in just one year, the share of workers in the lowest-paid quarter of occupations that had access to paid sick leave jumped from 31 to 39 percent.  Since the President took office, the number of private sector workers with paid sick leave has grown by 10.6 million.

Despite this progress, millions of Americans still do not have access to even a single day of paid sick leave, so when workers get sick they may have to choose between caring for themselves or paying their bills.  Too many parents must make the painful choice between staying home to take care of a sick child—and losing out on a day’s pay—or sending their child to school sick.  For that reason, President Obama has repeatedly called on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act—which would guarantee most Americans the chance to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave each year—and urging states, cities, and businesses to act where Congress has not.

Similarly, despite a woman’s pay being just as critical for a family to make ends meet, women make less than their male peers.  The President has fought to close that gap, and the first legislation he signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, an important step in ensuring that Americans can effectively challenge unequal pay in the courts.  Since then, he has taken numerous other steps to advance equal pay, including issuing a 2014 Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees who discuss their pay, and announcing a White House Equal Pay Pledge that has now been signed by more than 50 of America’s leading businesses.

Similar to the expansion of paid sick leave, progress has been made on the gender pay gap.  In 2008, a typical woman working full-time earned only 77 cents for every dollar earned by a typical man; today, that has risen to 80 cents.  That means that for a woman working full-time, the pay gap has shrunk by more than 10 percent, or about $1200, since the President took office.

Yet much work remains.  Too many women and workers of color are still not paid equally for equal work, with African-American women earning 63 cents and Latina women earning 54 cents for every dollar earned by a white non-Hispanic man.  And 41 million private sector workers do not have access to even a single day of paid sick leave.   Today’s actions mark critical progress to support the needs of working Americans and their families.

EXPANDING SICK LEAVE

Last September, President Obama signed an Executive Order requiring federal contractors (and subcontractors) to allow their employees working on federal contracts to earn up to seven paid sick days each year.  Today, the Department of Labor is finalizing its rule implementing the order.  It takes into account extensive public comments from employers, business associations, small businesses, workers, unions, and worker advocates.  The final rule, which goes into effect for new solicitations issued on or after January 1, 2017, will:

  • Give additional paid sick leave to 1.15 million people working on federal contracts, including nearly 600,000 employees who do not currently have even a single day of paid sick leave.  Workers will earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked on (or in connection with) a covered federal contract, up to 56 hours in a year or at any point in time.
  • Allow workers to use paid sick leave for their own illnesses, preventive care, or other health care needs; to care for a family member or loved one who is ill, seeking preventive care, or otherwise in need of care; and for absences resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  Employers may not retaliate against employees for using paid sick leave or require them to find replacements in order to take it.
  • Improve the health and performance of employees of federal contractors and bring benefits packages offered by federal contractors in line with leading firms, ensuring they remain competitive in the search for dedicated and talented employees.
  • Protect public health by reducing the transmission of illnesses in the workplace from sick employees to coworkers or their customers.
  • Respond to employers’ concerns by ensuring coordination with existing “paid time off” policies that give workers a flexible bank of leave; existing collective bargaining agreements; and multi-employer plans. 

This action reflects leading practices by major employers, states, and localities throughout the country.  Since the President’s call to action in 2014, four states and more than 25 cities and counties have taken action to expand paid sick leave in their community, and many businesses small and large have adopted similar policies.  For example:

  • Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota passed ordinances in May and September, respectively, requiring businesses to offer their workers an hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.  Both ordinances go into effect on July 1, 2017 with phased implementation periods.  The Twin Cities have a joint population of nearly 700,000 residents, though the ordinances cover anyone who does work within the respective city limits.
  • Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), a nonprofit clean energy consulting company and federal contractor in Vermont, testified in support of Vermont’s new paid sick leave law, passed earlier this year.  VEIC’s founder pointed to the monetary, physical, and cultural value of paid sick leave to employers.
  • Cava Grill, a fast-casual national restaurant brand headquartered in Washington, DC, announced in July that it began offering paid sick and parental leave to its hourly workers, for whom it also raised its starting wage to $13 an hour.  Employees will now receive up to six days a year of paid sick leave, up to four days of paid parental leave, and one day for community service.
  • Microsoft, a federal contractor, took a similar step last year by announcing it would require suppliers with at least 50 employees doing business with the company to provide employees who handle its work with 15 days of paid leave annually (including 5 paid sick days).  In announcing this change, Microsoft pointed to research showing that paid leave contributes to the health and well-being of workers and their families, strengthens family ties, increases productivity, improves retention, lowers health-care costs, and contributes to the health of colleagues.

ADVANCING EQUAL PAY

Today, the EEOC, in cooperation with the Department of Labor, is publishing its finalized revisions to its EEO-1 form, which for the first time will collect summary pay data, broken down by gender, race, and ethnicity, from all businesses with 100 or more employees.  This data collection, which stems from a recommendation by the President’s Equal Pay Task Force and a Presidential Memorandum issued in 2014, is expected to cover roughly 63 million employees and 60,000 employers.

Today’s action will promote improved voluntary compliance by employers with existing equal pay laws.  It will also help EEOC and the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) better focus investigations on employers who are illegally shortchanging workers’ pay based on their gender, race, or ethnicity.

The data will be a tool not only for the federal government, but for employers as well.  It will help employers evaluate their own pay practices to prevent pay discrimination in their workplaces.  The EEOC will also compile and publish aggregate data that will help employers in assessing their pay practices relative to others in the same industry and geographic area.

Businesses have long used the EEO-1 form to report demographic information on their workforces.  With the revised EEO-1, businesses also will report summary data on the range of compensation paid to employees of each demographic group.  Businesses will not be required to disclose individual employees’ salaries.

Employers will first be required to submit pay data for 2017 by March 31, 2018, giving them 18 months to prepare for the change.  This revision does not impact the 2016 EEO-1 report, which is due on September 30, 2016 and is unchanged.  EEOC will be offering webinars and technical assistance to employers, payroll and human resource information system providers, and other stakeholders in preparation for the new submission requirements.

Today’s publication of the revised form comes after the EEOC approved this action by a vote of the Commission, and follows final approval by the Office of Management and Budget pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act.  The EEOC is an independent government agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and genetic information.

BUILDING ON A RECORD OF SUPPORTING WORKING FAMILIES

Since taking office, President Obama and his Administration have taken a number of actions to support working families and combat the pay gap, including:

  • Publishing a final regulation by the Department of Health and Human Services to implement the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014. The program provides subsidies to working families and last year provided services for roughly 1.4 million children aged 0-13, most of whom are younger than 5. The rule, which has not been comprehensively revised since 1998, will provide a roadmap to states on how to implement the new law and clarify ambiguities around provisions that deal with eligibility for services; health and safety requirements; and how best to support the needs of parents and providers as they transition to the new law.  It also clarifies that worker organizations can provide professional development to child care workers and contribute to discussions around the rates states set for subsidies.
  • Signing his first piece of legislation as President, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pair Act, in January 2009 making it easier for employees to challenge unfair pay practices.
  • Creating the National Equal Pay Task Force in January 2010 to implement his pledge to crack down on violations of equal pay laws, which included representatives from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, and the Office of Personnel Management. The Task Force has issued reports on its progress, including Fighting for Equal Pay in the Workforce, Keeping America’s Women Moving Forward, and Fifty Years After the Equal Pay Act.  In addition, since the creation of the Equal Pay Task Force in 2010, the EEOC has received over 18,000 charges of sex-based pay discrimination, and through its independent enforcement efforts, the EEOC has obtained over $140 million in monetary relief for victims of pay discrimination on the basis of sex.
  • Calling on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, commonsense legislation that would strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by closing loopholes in the defenses for equal pay violations, providing stronger remedies, and expanding protections against discrimination for employees who share or inquire about information about their compensation at work.
  • Signing a Presidential Memorandum in May 2013 directing the Office of Personnel Management to develop a government-wide strategy to address the gender pay gap in the federal workforce, leading to a report in April 2014 and new guidance in July 2015—which cautioned against reliance on a candidate’s existing salary to set pay, as it can potentially adversely affect women who may have taken time off from their careers or propagate gaps due to discriminatory pay practices by previous employers.
  • Issuing an Executive Order in April 2014 and publishing a Department of Labor rule in September 2015 prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees who discuss or inquire about their compensation.
  • Announcing a White House Equal Pay Pledge, with more than 50 leading businesses signing on to take action to advance equal pay.  By signing the pledge, these companies are committing to conduct an annual company-wide gender pay analysis, review hiring and promotion processes, embed equal pay efforts in broader equity initiatives, and identify and promote best practices that will close the wage gap.
  • Hosting a White House Summit on Working Families in June 2014, highlighting the issues that women and families face, setting the agenda for a 21st century workplace, and announcing of a number of steps to help working families thrive.
  • Hosting the United State of Women Summit in June 2016, highlighting the progress that has been made over the course of this Administration and discussing public and private sector solutions to the challenges that still lie ahead.
  • Signing a Presidential Memorandum in January 2015 directing federal agencies to advance six weeks of paid sick leave to federal employees with new children, calling on Congress to grant another six weeks of paid leave for federal employees, and calling on Congress to pass legislation that gives all American families access to paid family and medical leave.
  • Publishing a final Department of Labor rule in May updating outdated overtime regulations, expanding overtime pay protections to 4.2 million additional Americans, boosting wages for workers by $12 billion over the next 10 years, and allowing workers to better balance their work and family obligations.
  • Issuing an Executive Order in February 2014 requiring federal contractors to raise their minimum wage initially to $10.10 an hour, indexing it, and lifting the tipped minimum wage (which disproportionately impacts women)—and urging Congress, states, cities, and businesses to do the same.
  • Directing the Office of Personnel Management and federal agencies to enhance workplace flexibility for federal employees to the maximum extent practicable, including enshrining a right to request flexible work arrangements.
  • Signing into law the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, which requires agencies to support and establish policies for telework by eligible employees.
  • Calling on Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would require employers to make reasonable accommodations to workers who have limitations from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions (unless it would impose an undue hardship on the employer). The legislation would also prohibit employers from forcing pregnant employees to take paid or unpaid leave if a reasonable accommodation would allow them to work.
  • Finalizing a Department of Labor rule updating its sex discrimination guidelines for federal contractors for the first time since 1978, to align with current law and address barriers to equal opportunity and pay, such as pay discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environments, a lack of workplace accommodations for pregnant women, and gender identity and family caregiving discrimination.
  • Announcing the Department of Labor’s award of $54 million in “Strengthening Working Families” grants to help low- to middle-skilled parents access the affordable, quality child care they need to earn an education, participate in training programs, and compete for better-paying jobs in emergency industries.
  • Expanding access for women to higher-paying jobs through a proposed rule updating equal employment opportunity requirements in registered apprenticeships and through a Mega-Construction Projects (MCP) Initiative at the Department of Labor.

White House Smart Cities Initiative Doubles Number of Participating Communities, Gets $80 Million Infusion

 

 

New York City, with its annual TD Bank 5-Boro Bike Tour, has embraced sustainability issues and will be benefiting from DOE’s new one-stop shop for cities and counties to plug into DOE resources and AmeriCorps resources from the Corporation for National and Community Service to support them in tackling energy and climate challenges. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
New York City, with its annual TD Bank 5-Boro Bike Tour, has embraced sustainability issues and will be benefiting from DOE’s new one-stop shop for cities and counties to plug into DOE resources and AmeriCorps resources from the Corporation for National and Community Service to support them in tackling energy and climate challenges. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

FACT SHEET: Announcing Over $80 million in New Federal Investment and a Doubling of Participating Communities in the White House Smart Cities Initiative

“If we can reconceive of our government so that the interactions and the interplay between private sector, nonprofits, and government are opened up, and we use technology, data, social media in order to join forces around problems, then there’s no problem that we face in this country that is not soluble.” President Barack Obama

The White House issued a Fact Sheet on $80 million in new federal investment, and doubling in the number of participating communities in the White House Smart Cities Initiative:

With nearly two-thirds of Americans living in urban settings, many of our fundamental challenges—from climate change to equitable growth to improved health—will require our cities to be laboratories for innovation. The rapid pace of technological change, from the rise of data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and ubiquitous sensor networks to autonomous vehicles, holds significant promise for addressing core local challenges.

That’s why last September the White House launched the Smart Cities Initiative to make it easier for cities, Federal agencies, universities, and the private sector to work together to research, develop, deploy, and testbed new technologies that can help make our cities more inhabitable, cleaner, and more equitable.

The Administration kicked off Smart Cities Week by expanding this initiative, with over $80 million in new Federal investments and a doubling of the number of participating cities and communities, exceeding 70 in total. These new investments and collaborations will help cities of all sizes, including in the following key areas:

  • Climate: The Administration is announcing nearly $15 million in new funding and two new coalitions to help cities and communities tackle energy and climate challenges. For example, one Department of Energy (DOE) campaign has already signed up 1,800 buildings representing 49 million square feet with data analytics tools that could reduce their energy footprint by 8 percent or more, on average.
  • Transportation: The Administration is announcing more than $15 million in new grants and planned funding to evolve the future of urban transportation, including National Science Foundation (NSF) funding for researchers in Chattanooga to test, for the first time, how an entire urban network of connected and autonomous vehicles can automatically cooperate to improve travel efficiency and operate safely during severe weather events.
  • Public safety: The Administration is announcing more than $10 million in new grants and planned funding for public safety, resilience, and disaster response. For example, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is funding the development of low-cost flood sensor-based tools in flood-prone areas of Texas, where predictive analytics will give first responders and local officials new capability to issue alerts and warnings, and the ability to respond more rapidly to save lives when a flood strikes.
  • Transforming city services: MetroLab Network is launching a new effort to help cities adopt promising innovations in social programs, like a collaboration between three counties surrounding Seattle and the University of Washington to use predictive analytics to identify precisely when city services succeed in helping homeless individuals transition into permanent housing, offering the promise of a future of personalized intervention.

Background

The White House Smart Cities Initiative represents an example of how the Administration has worked over the past seven and a half years to develop a smarter, more collaborative approach to working with local communities—putting citizens, community groups, and local leaders at the center of its efforts. The Administration’s approach involves working together with communities to identify local needs and priorities, develop and build upon evidence-based and data-driven solutions, and strategically invest Federal funding and technical assistance.

The Smart Cities Initiative is informed by and builds on the work of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), including its Technology and the Future of Cities report. In the report, PCAST identified several actions that the Federal Government can take to help cities leverage technology, and which the initiative is already beginning to implement.

The initiative has supported a number of breakthrough activities in the last year. Two such examples are:

  • Smart City Challenge: In June, the Department of Transportation (DOT) selected Columbus, Ohio to receive $40 million to prototype the future of urban transportation, out of 78 cities that accepted its Smart City Challenge. The city’s plan, which will also leverage over $100 million in private resources, involves piloting new technologies, from connected vehicle technology that improves traffic flow and safety to data-driven efforts to improve public transportation access and health care outcomes to electric self-driving shuttles that will create new transportation options for underserved neighborhoods.
  • Fitness Tracker for Cities: With funding from NSF and Argonne National Laboratory, the City of Chicago and the University of Chicago last month began installing a “fitness tracker for the city”—500 outdoor sensor boxes called the “Array of Things” that will allow the city and public to instantly obtain block-by-block data on air quality, noise levels, and traffic. This real-time open data will help researchers and city officials reduce air pollution, improve traffic safety, and more. For example, a team is already working to build a mobile application that will alert asthma sufferers about poor air quality based on real-time measurements taken on their city block.

In addition to the initiative, the Administration has also taken several complementary steps that support local innovation, including the newly-announced Advanced Wireless Research Initiative, through which NSF is working with the private sector to invest nearly $100 million to develop four city-scale testing platforms for wireless technologies, including 5G and beyond. Additionally, the Administration’sOpportunity Project is spurring the creation of private sector digital tools based on Federal open data that help communities find information about resources needed to thrive, such as affordable housing, quality schools, and jobs. The Police Data Initiative and Data-Driven Justice Initiative are helping local authorities use data to improve community policing and divert low-level offenders out of the criminal justice system, respectively.

The upcoming White House Frontiers Conference, held in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, October 13, will further advance the initiative by bringing together some of the world’s leading innovators to discuss how investing in science and technology frontiers—including smart and inclusive local communities—can help improve lives and keep America on the cutting edge of innovation.

Key Steps by the Administration 

NSF is announcing over $60 million in new smart cities-related grants in FY16 and planned new investments in FY17. NSF is bringing together academic researchers from an array of disciplines with community stakeholders to unlock transformational progress on important community challenges. Examples of this work include an effort by researchers in Chattanooga to test an entire urban network of automatically cooperating connected and autonomous vehicles; and a flood-warning pilot project in several Maryland cities that integrates sensor data and social media posts in a novel way to potentially save lives by providing advance notice of flash floods, which kill more people in the United States each year than tornadoes, hurricanes, or lightning. The investments include:

  • $24.5 million in planned investment in FY17 and $8.5 million in new awards under the Smart & Connected Communities program. The planned investment significantly expands NSF’s research focus in this area and builds on a number of high-risk, high-reward Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research awards supporting integrative research that enhances understanding and design of our future cities and communities.
  • $10 million in new awards to develop and scale next-generation Internet applications and technologies through the US Ignite program, supporting access to the gigabit-enabled networks and services that bring data and analytics to decision-makers in real time.
  • $7 million in new Partnerships for Innovation: Building Innovation Capacity projects that involve academic-industry collaborations to translate breakthrough discoveries into emerging technologies related to smart communities, ranging from smart buildings to sensor networks that improve transportation efficiency.
  • $4 million in new Cyber-Physical Systems awards focused on Smart & Connected Communities. Collectively, these awards help establish the technological foundation for smart cities and the Internet of Things, which enables connection of physical devices at enormous scale to the digital world through sensors and other IT infrastructure.
  • $1.5 million in new Smart and Connected Health research awards with a focus on Smart & Connected Communities. The awards being announced today will support the development of next-generation health care solutions that leverage sensor technology, information and machine learning technology, decision support systems, and more.
  • $1 million for researchers to participate in the 2016 NIST Global City Teams Challenge, supporting high-risk, high-reward research on the effective integration of digital and physical systems to meet real-world community challenges.
  • $1 million in new research and capacity-building awards supporting lifelong learning that will be critical to cities and communities of the future. 

DOE is announcing new coalitions to build cleaner, smarter communities, and more than $15 million in new and planned funding to support smart, energy-efficient urban transportation systems and to unlock distributed clean energy sources.

  • DOE is announcing the launch of the Better Communities Alliance (BCA), a new DOE-led network of cities and counties with the goal of creating cleaner, smarter, and more prosperous communities for all Americans. Through the BCA, which is part of the Better Buildings Initiative, DOE is creating a one-stop shop for cities and counties to plug into DOE resources and AmeriCorps resources from the Corporation for National and Community Service to support them in tackling energy and climate challenges. DOE will gather key stakeholders to promote knowledge exchange and collaboration, while streamlining access to community-focused DOE resources and funding through coordinated assistance across programs and a common digital portal. Initial member communities and affiliate organizations include:
  • Anchorage, Alaska
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Boulder, Colorado
  • Broward County, Florida
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Chula Vista, California
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Dubuque, Iowa
  • Fort Worth, Texas
  • Huntington Beach, California
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • King County, Washington
  • Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Los Angeles County, California
  • Miami-Dade County, Florida
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • New York, New York
  • Newark, New Jersey
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Richmond, Virginia
  • Roanoke, Virginia
  • Rochester, New York
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • San Francisco, California
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Sonoma County, California
  • West Palm Beach, Florida
  • Will County, Illinois
  • Alliance to Save Energy
  • American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
  • Arup
  • C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group
  • Cityzenith
  • Emerald Cities Collaborative
  • Energy Foundation
  • Global Cool Cities Alliance
  • Governing Institute
  • Hatch
  • ICLEI USA – Local Governments for Sustainability
  • Institute for Market Transformation
  • Institute for Sustainable Communities
  • International City/County Management Association
  • Kresge Foundation
  • National Association of Counties
  • National Association of State Energy Officials
  • National League of Cities
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Philips Lighting
  • Smart Cities Council
  • Solar Foundation
  • STAR Communities
  • Surdna Foundation
  • U.S. Green Building Council
  • Urban Sustainability Directors Network
  • DOE is launching a new Better Buildings Accelerator to assist local governments in developing “Zero Energy Districts” within their communities. Through the Accelerator—which will help participants overcome deployment barriers by providing a framework for collaboration among participants as well as technical assistance—DOE will work with city leaders, district developers, planners, owners, and additional key stakeholders to develop the business case and energy master planning documents needed to replicate Zero Energy Districts, which aggregate buildings’ renewable energy sources so that the combined on-site renewable energy offsets the combined building energy usage from the buildings in the district.
  • DOE’s Better Buildings Initiative is launching a Smart Energy Analytics Campaign with an inaugural group of members committing to using smart building energy management technologies to unlock energy savings. Eighteen inaugural members representing 1,800 buildings and 49 million square feet have signed up to adopt data analytics tools—known as Energy Management and Information Systems (EMIS)—that could reduce their energy footprint by 8 percent or more, on average. Some of the campaign participants and their plans include:

o   The Wendy’s Company is piloting software to move all 300 of their company-owned restaurants onto EMIS analytics.

o   Macy’s will leverage its experience using fault detection and diagnostics across their portfolio of over 700 stores to share best practices.

o   University of California, San Francisco will expand its innovative program of “Connected Commissioning” to use fault detection and diagnostics based on a consistent flow of building data analytics to help commission major building renovations and ensure they operate efficiently from the start.

o   Rhode Island Office of Energy is starting a multi-year EMIS project with 18-buildings that will leverage lessons learned through the Campaign to help streamline the rollout of EMIS to a large portion of their portfolio.

The following organizations will also provide technical assistance to the campaign partners: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Building Owners Management Association, International Facility Managers Association, Commonwealth Edison, California Commissioning Collaborative, and the Building Commissioning Association.

  • DOE is announcing $10 million in current and planned investment to expand the DOE SMART Mobility consortium to support the emergence of smart, energy-efficient urban transportation systems and establish a “Technologist in Cities” pilot. In collaboration with the DOT Smart City Challenge, and with an initial focus on Columbus, Ohio, and Detroit, Michigan, DOE’s “Technologist in Cities” pilot will pair national laboratory technologists with city leaders to help cities address critical mobility needs with new capacity, tools, and technologies that significantly improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. The DOE Systems and Modeling for Accelerated Research in Transportation Mobility consortium leverages the unique capabilities of DOE National Laboratories to examine the nexus of energy and mobility for future transportation systems, including through connected and automated vehicles, urban and decision sciences, multi-modal transport, and integrated vehicle-fueling infrastructure systems.
  • DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability is announcing approximately $7 million in funding to support the development of sensors and modeling that allow communities to more effectively integrate distributed clean energy sources into their power grids. Currently, integration of distributed clean energy sources—and the emissions, reliability and resilience benefits they provide—is a challenge for electric grids originally designed solely for distribution of electricity, not local generation. Funding will support research and development at utilities and technology providers to harness new sensor data and improved modeling to allow for integration of these resources with greater efficiency and reliability, while aiming to deliver new benefits, such as improved grid resilience against outages in emergency situations. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is continuing to expand the smart cities movement and support technical progress in the Internet of Things.

  • NIST and its collaborators are announcing a new international coalition dedicated to developing an Internet of Things-Enabled Smart City Framework, with an initial release planned for next summer. Through an open, technical working group studying real-world smart city applications and architectures, the coalition will identify pivotal points of interoperability, where emerging alignment on standards can enable landscape of diverse but interoperable smart city solutions. Coalition members include the American National Standards Institute, the U.S. Green Building Council, the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning, the Italian Energy and Innovation Agency, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, and the FIWARE Foundation.
  • NIST’s Global City Teams Challenge is establishing multi-team super-clusters to take on grand challenges too big for any single city team to tackle. Examples include multi-city resilience to large-scale natural disasters, intelligent transportation systems that work in any city, and regional air quality improvements through coordinated local action. This initiative brings together groups of communities formed around lead cities—Portland, Oregon; Atlanta, Georgia; Newport News, Virginia; Columbus, Ohio; Bellevue, Washington; Kansas City, Kansas; and Kansas City, Missouri—to work with NIST and its collaborators, including DOT, DHS Science and Technology Directorate, NSF, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the International Trade Administration, the Economic Development Administration, IBM, AT&T, CH2M, Verizon, Qualcomm Intelligent Solutions, Intel, US Ignite, and Urban-X, to develop ‘blueprints’ for shared solutions that will be collaboratively implemented in multiple cities and communities.
  • NIST is announcing $350,000 in four new grants enabling 11 cities and communities to work together on innovative smart city solutions. The Replicable Smart City Technologies grants to teams of communities led by Newport News, Virginia; Bellevue, Washington; Montgomery County, Maryland; and Portland, Oregon focus on the development and deployment of interoperable technologies to address important public concerns regarding air pollution, flood prediction, rapid emergency response, and improved citizen services through interoperable smart city solutions that can be implemented by communities of all types and sizes. 

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) within the Department of Commerce is releasing a new toolkitto help communities leverage private-sector resources and expertise to advance smart cities. A core challenge that communities face when implementing smart city solutions is limited expertise and resources needed to develop and deploy new large-scale technology projects.Successful public-private partnerships can be a cost-effective way to ensure the fastest delivery of improved services to local residents. To assist local communities, NTIA is releasing a toolkit for local officials and citizen groups to use as a guide for building productive public-private partnerships that will enable smart cities to flourish. Using Partnerships to Power a Smart City: A Toolkit for Local Communitiesidentifies factors to consider when developing a partnership—including what to look for in a partner, assessing partner contributions, and how to structure the most fruitful partnership agreements.

The DHS Science and Technology Directorate is announcing an investment of $3.5 million for development of low-cost sensor technologies through its Flood Apex Program. The program is applying Internet of Things-based approaches to facilitate evacuations, flood monitoring, and resilience of critical infrastructure. For example, through a collaboration with the Lower Colorado River Authority, FEMA, and the National Weather Service in flood-prone areas of Texas, the program will share real-time data to give first responders and local officials the ability to respond more rapidly when a flood strikes and make the right preventive investments in flood protection to help save lives and protect infrastructure.

The Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program is announcing a Federal Smart Cities and Communities Task Force. Recognizing the need for collaboration across agencies given the cross-cutting nature of community challenges like resilience, the task force is charged with developing a draft strategy for interagency cooperation on smart cities. It will also create a resource guide to Federal smart city programs, helping stakeholders discover the broad array of Federal funding opportunities and other resources. The draft strategy will be available for comment this fall, and the resource guide will be online in November.

New Steps Being Taken by Communities, Universities, Industry, and Others in Response to the Administration’s Call to Action

Four additional companies are joining the Administration’s NSF-led Advanced Wireless Research Initiative, collectively committing over $8 million in in-kind contributions to help support the design, deployment, and operation of four city-scale advanced wireless testing platforms. The companies joining the effort are announcing the following new steps:

  • Anritsu will contribute microwave components, spectrum analysis tools, and equipment to support testing, measurement, and service assurance.
  • Crown Castle will support the testing platforms by providing network deployment and tower siting advice and space on wireless towers.
  • Ericsson will provide resources in the form of researchers, systems and technology expertise, software-defined networking and radio network engineering support, with a focus on spectrum flexibility, spectrum sharing, security, IoT, and advanced radio technologies.
  • FiberTower will contribute mmWave spectrum services in support of selected geographic regions.

MetroLab Network, with new support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, will launch a Lab focused on the intersection of big data and human services. The Big Data and Human Services Lab will bring together stakeholders from the Network’s membership—local government policymakers and university researchers—as well as industry, policy experts, and non-profits to connect disparate policy and research efforts that harness data-driven approaches to transform human services. This effort will support coordination across communities, develop new tools and infrastructure, and help replicate what works, such as the collaboration between University of Washington and Seattle to use predictive analytics to identify precisely when city services succeed in helping homeless individuals transition into permanent housing, offering the promise of a future of personalized intervention. In addition, in the year since its launch, MetroLab has added the following new members, including four that are first joining :

  • Los Angeles, with California State University, Los Angeles (joining)
  • Greater Miami (Miami-Dade County, City of Miami, City of Miami Beach), with University of Miami, Florida International University, and Miami Dade College (joining)
  • San Francisco, with University of California, Berkeley (joining)
  • University of Pittsburgh, joining an existing collaboration between Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University (joining)
  • Arlington County, with Virginia Tech-National Capital Region
  • Austin, with University of Texas at Austin
  • Baltimore, with John Hopkins University and University of Baltimore
  • Boulder and Denver, with University of Colorado-Boulder
  • Burlington, with University of Vermont
  • Charlotte, with University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Columbus, with Ohio State University
  • Jacksonville, with University of Florida and University of North Florida
  • Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, with University of Missouri-Kansas City and University of Kansas
  • Newark, with New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Orlando, with University of Central Florida
  • Santa Fe, with Santa Fe Institute
  • Schenectady, with University at Albany, State University of New York
  • Columbia University, joining an existing collaboration between New York City and New York University 

The Smart Cities Council will award challenge grants to help five American cities apply smart technologies to improve urban livability, workability, and sustainability. For each of the five winning cities, the Council will deliver a tailored one-day readiness bootcamp, where experts from the Council, its members, and its advisors will assist each city in building or enhancing its smart city roadmap based on what works. In addition to the readiness bootcamp, the following Council members will contribute the following to each winning city:

  • Ameresco will provide consulting to help optimize smart street lighting.
  • AT&T will provide up to 25 AT&T Internet of Things Starter Kits.
  • CH2M and Qualcomm will collaborate to host a one-day follow-on workshop to develop and deploy a smart cities ecosystem.
  • Computing Technology Industry Association will provide free training, software, and access to its technology educational materials.
  • Dow Building and Construction will provide consultation on optimizing building design as part of a smart cities ecosystem.
  • IDC will assess each city’s progress through a comprehensive Smart City Maturity Benchmark.
  • Sensus will provide a citywide hosted communications network free of charge for one year.
  • Telit will provide each city free access to its Telit IoT platform.
  • TM Forum will help cities assess progress through its Smart City Maturity and Benchmark Model.
  • Transdev will provide up to three days of technical assistance to investigate new and more efficient urban mobility options. 

More than twenty cities, along with the newly formed Council of Global City Chief Information Officers, are launching a new initiative focused on ensuring responsible and equitable deployment of smart city technologies. The effort, led by the City of New York, has three primary goals: (1) provide a common framework to help governments develop and expand policies and procedures related to the Internet of Things; (2) ensure openness and transparency regarding the use of public space or assets for smart city technologies; and (3) advance the public dialogue about how government, the private sector and academia can collaborate to ensure these technologies are used in a way that maximizes public benefit. The following twenty-one cities have committed to a common set of guiding principles that emphasize privacy, security, sustainability, resilience, equity and efficiency in their use of these technologies:

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Austin, Texas
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Greenville, South Carolina
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Los Angeles, California
  • New York, New York
  • Palo Alto, California
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Portland, Oregon
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • San Diego, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Spokane, Washington
  • Washington, District of Columbia

US Ignite is announcing the addition of four cities joining the network of Smart Gigabit Communities. The Smart Gigabit Communities Program was announced by NSF with the launch of the Smart Cities Initiative last September. The four cities each committing to developing six gigabit applications that serve community needs are:

  • Adelaide, Australia (also the first city outside the United States to join)
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Salisbury, North Carolina
  • Washington, District of Columbia

1776 is launching the Urban Innovation Council, a coalition of cities, startups, and corporate stakeholders dedicated to overcoming challenges to building smarter cities through entrepreneurship. The council will tackle a range of enablers for startup innovation, including development of model urban regulations that enable rather than stymie innovation, and practical research that informs decisions made by entrepreneurs and city leaders. Initial members include:

  • Arlington County, Virginia
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Montgomery County, Maryland
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Global Automakers
  • Microsoft
  • Radiator Labs
  • SeamlessDocs
  • TransitScreen
  • Uber
  • Vornado

Additional efforts being announced include:

  • The Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany, State University of New York is creating smart city guidebooks for small and medium-sized cities. Mayors of such cities face a wide range of financial, organizational, policy, and political challenges that can slow the pace of innovation. The guidebooks will focus on key considerations for technology adoption in the small and medium-sized city context, with a focus on critical implementation steps.
  • The City of New York is launching a new digital platform to help local governments navigate the smart city marketplace. Developed through a public-private partnership, marketplace.nyc includes information about a growing list of more than 100 companies—including new and emerging firms—and their relevant products and services. The platform helps local government employees identify innovative technologies within their respective focus areas while also encouraging interagency coordination by offering a repository of information on past or existing city pilots and contracts. The resource is designed to enable both replication and data sharing across cities.
  • City Digital, a Chicago-based consortium, is announcing results from its first pilot launched in September 2015 as part of the Smart Cities Initiative, including new technology components to create a novel digital underground infrastructure mapping platform. The pilot team has now successfully engineered the platform’s components, which will allow cities and utilities to move through construction and development processes in less than half the current time.
  • Dallas Innovation Alliance and Envision Charlotte are announcing “For Cities, By Cities,” a new collaboration that will bring cities together from around the globe over the next two years to workshop steps to become smarter, more sustainable, and efficient. Convening in Dallas, Texas in 2017 and Charlotte, North Carolina in 2018, the conferences will feature city officials sharing their perspective with peers about lessons learned regarding what works, what to avoid, how to get started, and how to define success.
  • Dallas will be launching the Dallas Innovation District in the West End neighborhood in downtown Dallas, focused on bringing together civic, corporate, and startup innovation efforts through a single district-level testbed. This collaboration will bring together the Dallas Innovation Alliance’s Smart Cities Living Lab, the Dallas Entrepreneur Center’s efforts to seed new startups, and new innovation initiatives from corporations in the technology, banking and healthcare sectors.
  • Mapbox is announcing the launch of the Mapbox Cities Lab, offering municipalities free access to Mapbox tools and support, and providing three cities with in-depth mentorship to help tackle their most pressing issues, from traffic safety to neighborhood health. Mapbox will work with each participating city to gather data on its particular challenges, and then collaborate to create insightful and actionable data-driven maps incorporating open data and real-time traffic data from Mapbox.
  • Microsoft is announcing new smart cities-related resources to help communities across the country leverage technology for public safety and transportation. Microsoft and Genetec are providing 10 U.S. cities with Project Green Light starter kits to enable local businesses to connect surveillance cameras to the cloud and local law enforcement. Working with Cubic, Microsoft also is offering a cloud-based surface transport management solution pilot to five U.S. cities to help them increase efficiency and safety.
  • Orange Silicon Valley will launch a workshop this fall on business-to-business data sharing for public and private benefit, with a particular focus on smart cities and the Internet of Things. The workshop will bring together private sector actors with other stakeholders to examine models for private sector data sharing across businesses and sectors, related challenges and opportunities, and new models for generating social value from private sector data.