Despite losing the federal Smart Cities Challenge for $50 million this summer, Pittsburgh and two universities are soldiering on with their related projects.

The city will continue its involvement in the MetroLab Network in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. The city will serve as the test bed for the technology developed by the universities.

The project is part of the White House’s Smart Cities initiative which supports schools performing research and development in this burgeoning field. This includes the MetroLab Network which is comprised of 40 U.S. cities fostering partnerships between local universities and the municipalities. Besides Pittsburgh, other cities in the network include San Francisco, Miami and Los Angeles.

“We have a long history of working with the city and we identified three very solid projects that could really add value to the city,” said University of Pittsburgh vice chancellor Rebecca Bagley.

One of the projects to be developed in Pittsburgh will focus on microgrids, and their ability to help the region develop sustainable, economical and efficient energy systems.

Pittsburgh city vehicles to go all electric

Another Pittsburgh-area project involves the conversion of city vehicles to electric power from gasoline.

The third smart city project on the radar for the team will focus on taking data from the city and other governments and opening it up to the public. This project could involve hosting data from schools, nonprofits and other information providers.

“It really helps how to figure out how to reduce costs as well as implement new technologies into the database of the city,” said Bagley.

This summer Ohio’s capital city, Columbus, won the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, receiving $40 million from the DOT, and $10M from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc. — along with another $90 million pledged by private sector partners to change the mobility landscape of the city.

Donal Power