Palm Coast - The City of Palm Coast is headed to San Diego as one of 10 finalists for the Smart Cities Readiness Challenge!


Five winners will be announced April 16 at Smart Cities Week San Diego. Palm Coast will be represented at the gathering of smart cities change-makers by IT Director Chuck Burkhart and Head of Innovation and Economic Growth Wynn Newingham, both of whom will participate on panel discussions.


Their scholarships to the conference are part of Palm Coast's prize for being selected as a finalist in the annual challenge, which helps cities and states advance their smart cities initiatives. Finalists also receive access to the Smart Cities Council's Smart Cities Activator, an online tool to help cities plan, manage, and finance their smart city projects. The five winning cities will receive a year-long Readiness Program to help turn their smart cities visions into at-scale projects.


At Smart Cities Week, Burkhart will participate on a panel for "Practical Progress to Propel Smart Cities (P3s): Partnership Lessons from the Front Lines," and Newingham will take part on the panel for "Smart Developments - Ports, Bases and Campuses as Smart Cities," both of which speak to the City's focus on innovation.


Palm Coast also will be featured in a video montage from the 10 Smart Cities finalists. For the video, members of Palm Coast's Innovation Team went to Waterfront Park to welcome the world to Palm Coast - "home of 130 miles of connecting, tree-lined trails!"


Smart Cities Week San Diego is considered a premier gathering of smart cities change-makers with innovative programming created for city leaders who want to create more livable, workable and sustainable communities. Attendees will network with peers and smart cities experts, uncover solutions to common challenges, be among the first to see new technologies and approaches from solution providers, and tour some of San Diego's smart infrastructure projects that are delivering meaningful results.


Palm Coast is in good company on the list of Readiness Challenge finalists - Baltimore; Dallas; Edmonton; Jersey City, New Jersey; Montgomery, Alabama; Racine, Wisconsin; and regional efforts in San Diego County (Cleantech San Diego), Arizona/New Mexico/Texas and the Mexican state of Chihuahua; and North Florida.


Mayor Milissa Holland said she's incredibly pleased the City of Palm Coast has been selected as a finalist.


"Palm Coast is on a fast-track to becoming a smart city," Mayor Holland said. "We need to be able to compete in a global market to be successful with our vision for the Innovation District, the expansion of our fiber optic network as an economic development driver, and the use of technology to improve our residents' lives, and being selected for this opportunity will help us advance our priorities."

In announcing the 10 finalists, the Smart Cities Council described Palm Coast as "a comeback kid kind of city. In the mid-2000s, it was one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. when a recession put a heavy halt to the development of its promising downtown. Ten years later, its new approach and vision, driven by economic opportunities and smart cities principles, has resulted in a new Innovation District that's creating jobs and improving the quality of life for residents."

The City's application highlighted Palm Coast's fresh vision for Town Center - the Innovation District, new economic incentives including the Kick Start program and the Opportunity Zone designation - and how Palm Coast is already using cutting edge technology.


"Innovation districts can be a powerful urban strategy that takes the next step in generating ideas for technological advancement and economic growth," Newingham said. "They allow for open environments where ideas can move freely and talented people can collaborate are key for creating the next big thing in urban and economic growth. Town Center and our Innovation District is in a unique position, as it's truly being created from scratch in a place in an ideal location that already has great infrastructure, low-cost of living with high standards, absolutely stunning scenery less than five miles from the beach, and some key players from the private sector already in place to help tell our story."

Digital city services added in recent years include advanced meter reading and online permitting, and a new Citizen Engagement Platform - giving residents an easy-to-use portal to access City services from their smart phones and tablets - will go live in May. Streetlights have been converted to LED technology and high-tech solutions for security at City parks and facilities are being employed. The traffic signal optimization program is in its third phase of expansion.


The City is currently expanding its fiber optic network for high-speed internet and data services. A new broadband business plan was finalized last fall, and now the City is seeking a public-private partnership to help expand the network so it's more accessible to residents and businesses - and to help attract high-tech businesses to Palm Coast.


For more information or to schedule an interview with Burkhart or Newingham, contact Cindi Lane, Palm Coast communications & marketing manager, at 386-986-3708 or