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Image Credit: Douglas Pancoast & Satya Mark Basu, School of the Art Institute of Chicago/Array of Things

NSF's Smart & Connected Communities Effort

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has long been a leader in advancing the fundamental science and engineering research and education that will revolutionize our Nation's cities and communities for the 21st century. NSF investments create the scientific and engineering foundations for smart cities and communities and help to enhance economic vitality, safety, security, health and wellbeing, and overall quality of life.

A number of NSF solicitations support research in this important area. The flagship Smart & Connected Communities (S&CC) program was launched in 2016 to support iterative research advances in technological and social dimensions at colleges and universities across the U.S. with meaningful community engagement. For fiscal years (FY) 2017-2020, the S&CC program invested $87 million to support 124 projects. Learn more about the program:

S&CC Program Page

In-Depth S&CC Overview Video (05:46)

Short S&CC Overview Video (02:37)

S&CC Program Overview - PDF


Civic Innovation Challenge (NSF)

The Civic Innovation Challenge (CIVIC) is a research and action competition in the Smart and Connected Communities (S&CC) domain designed to build a more cohesive research-to-innovation pipeline and foster a collaborative spirit.  CIVIC will fund projects that can produce significant community impact within 12 months (following a four-month planning phase) — in contrast to many community-university partnerships that take years to provide tangible benefits to communities — and have the potential for lasting impact beyond the period of the CIVIC award. CIVIC is organized as a two-stage competition with two tracks centered around the following topic areas

Track A. Communities and Mobility: Offering Better Mobility Options to Solve the Spatial Mismatch Between Housing Affordability and Jobs; and

Track B. Resilience to Natural Disasters: Equipping Communities for Greater Preparedness and Resilience to Natural Disasters.

Civic Innovation Challenge Web Links:

NSF Webpage & CIVIC Website

MetroLab (1931690) cooperative agreement to organize programming and capacity-building for Civic Innovation Challenge teams. MetroLab EAGER (1833054) cooperative agreement to fund an Ideas Competition and Festival. Seventy civic leaders, academics, and state and local government representatives who developed the leading submissions for the Ideas Competition were invited to participate in the Ideas Festival. The Civic Innovation Challenge is based on the ideas and discussions at the Ideas Festival.


S&CC Awards

    Integrated Research Grant (IRG) Awards

    1. FY 2020 Awards
    2. FY 2018 Awards
    3. FY 2017 Awards

    Planning Grant (PG) Awards

    1. FY 2020 Awards
    2. FY 2017 Awards

    International Awards

    1. Joint NSF/Japan Science and Technology (JST) Awards – joint funding with the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) supporting collaborative research opportunities in Smart and Connected Communities - Dear Colleague Letter (19-077)
    2. ASEAN Awards with the Department of State supporting transition of research into cities through the U.S. ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations Cities) Smart Cities Partnership – Dear Colleague Letter (NSF 20-024)

    Research Coordination Networks

    1. FY 2017 Awards

    Other Awards

    1. S&CC Awards (NSF-19-026) and Dear Colleague Letter (19-026) supporting transition to practice supplemental funding requests in the NSF Cyber-Physical Systems and Smart and Connected Communities Programs.
    2. S&CC Awards (NSF-16-140) and Dear Colleague Letter (16-140) on opportunities for research in Smart and Connected Communities
    3. US Ignite (16-553) Smart Gigabit Communities and Award for US Ignite Application Summits
    4. EAGER Award to City Innovate


NSF-Sponsored Workshops


Related NSF Programs and Funding Opportunities


NSF Press Releases

  • Press Release 19-021: NSF leads federal partners in accelerating the development of transformational, AI-powered innovation - New funding opportunity anticipates $200 million in long-term investments in AI research and education over the next 6 years.
  • Press Release 18-091: NSF announces $24.2 million to support research fueling smart cities and communities - Smart and Connected Communities program supports researchers collaborating with local communities; NSF-WINS Challenge winners apply innovative wireless internet technologies to connect the unconnected.
  • Press Release 18-025: Powering advances in wireless connectivity for the future - NSF joins leading networking companies and associations to support wireless research platforms in Salt Lake City and New York City.
  • Press Release 17-102: NSF announces $19.5M in awards to support fundamental research to advance the nation's local cities and communities - First-ever awards through Smart & Connected Communities program seek to address transportation, infrastructure, health and other rural and urban challenges.
  • Press Release 17-055: NSF-funded researchers demonstrate advanced network applications at 2017 Smart Cities Connect Conference & Expo. NSF connects research with local communities, builds a foundation for smart and connected communities.
  • Press Release 16-113: NSF commits more than $60 million to Smart Cities Initiative - Agency-wide effort to further science, engineering and education will address challenges in cities and communities nationwide.
  • Press Release 15-107: Gigabit application prototypes to help cities and communities serve citizens better - NSF awards nearly $12 million to expand innovation ecosystem for next-generation Internet applications.
  • Press Release 15-106: NSF invests $10 million in smart, human-centered service systems - Awards to spur innovation for smart health, manufacturing, and infrastructure.
  • Press Release 15-105: Laying the foundation for smart and connected cities and communities - NSF issues 12 new awards in support of the Global City Teams Challenge.
  • Press Release 15-104: NSF supports urban-scale instrument to measure city's fitness - $3 million grant to the University of Chicago will prototype smart city technology.
  • Press Release 15-103: Cultivating smart and connected communities - NSF exhibits commitments in support of White House Smart Cities Initiative.