RACINE — The city of Racine was named one of five winners in the Smart Cities Readiness Challenge.
Clinching the Smart City designation means Racine will get resources to infuse new technology and data to improve quality of life.
"It's a really big deal. We're the smallest city ever to be selected," said Mayor Cory Mason. "This is all about improving the lives of our residents and using technology to do that."
The win, first announced Tuesday, was the result of more than a year's work between people in local government, education and business.
"Having big tech companies like Foxconn to partner with really helped, but it was a great collaborative effort with the county and with Gateway Technical College and the UW System all coming together with our business partners to show that we had a great coalition and a real enthusiasm," said Mason when asked what set Racine apart.
The city gets access to experts, tools and grants to bring its vision of a better Racine to life.
"We were also very intentional about talking about how this new technology needs to reduce inequalities in our community and not make them greater. I think that helped a lot," said Mason.
The mayor explained improving quality of life as a Smart City could mean technology and infrastructure to access city services through your smartphone versus standing in line at City Hall. It could mean a new way to offer more transit options to help people get around town, or better internet connectivity for businesses and students.
"From Gateway's perspective, it's about training that workforce," said Jeff Robshaw, chief information officer and vice president for learning innovation at Gateway Technical College.
Robshaw explained the Smart City push fuels their work training people on the latest technologies and networks to move the city forward.
"Having big tech companies like Foxconn to partner with really helped, but it was a great collaborative effort with the county and with Gateway Technical College and the UW System all coming together with our business partners to show that we had a great coalition and a real enthusiasm." — Racine Mayor Cory Mason
"The security of those networks, the speed of those networks, and how to use the data that’s gathered those are the new skills for workers and a Smart City," said Robshaw.
"This sends a message to the broader community that if you want to innovate and if you want to invest around this kind of smart technology, Racine is really the place to do that," said Mason.
The city is planning a public outreach campaign.