Frequently Asked Questions

What is Georgia Smart?

The Georgia Smart Communities Challenge ("Georgia Smart") is an award-winning technical assistance program for local governments within the State of Georgia. Georgia Smart will support up to four winning communities in Georgia to develop smart communities planning and pilot studies. Georgia Smart will also supply winning communities with mentoring, networking opportunities, and access to global thought-leaders in smart community development. Check out our 1 page summary.

How do communities apply?

Communities must submit an application for consideration under Georgia Smart. Proposal guidelines and requirements are provided in the Request for Proposals, which can be found on the Georgia Smart website. Applicants can view an example application here. In additional, an optional pre-application may be submitted which Georgia Smart will use to guide communities in the development of their final proposals.

  • Pre-applications must be submitted using the Georgia Smart pre-application submission portal HERE.
  • Final Applications must be submitted using the Georgia Smart Application submission portal HERE.

What are the major program dates?

  • Request for Proposal Launch: April 5th, 2021
  • Informational Webinar: April 14th, 2021
  • Pre-applications due: May 3rd, 2021 by 5pm EDT
  • Final Applications due: June 1st, 2021 by 5pm EDT
  • Winning Communities Notified: July, 2021

What is required for the Pre-application?

Pre-applications should include project vision, motivation, overview, and point of contact information. Applicants are encouraged to describe the vision for broadband deployment, motivations to participate in the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge, and an overview of technologies that would benefit the community. Each entry box will have a maximum of 20,000 characters or approximately 2,500 words. Each proposal should not exceed 5,000 words.

What is required for the Final Application?

Final applications must include all the same sections from the pre-application in addition to partnerships, leadership support, financial support, and references (if applicable). Applications should include letters of Support/Understanding from all relevant parties to outline a community’s commitment to participation. Letters should be submitted in one (1) PDF document that is less than 25 pages.

What is the letter of support?

This is a letter from the highest-ranking leader of a participating government entity stating that the project team has that individual’s support to participate in the Georgia Smart program. The highest-ranking leader may be, for example, a city’s major, a county’s commission chair, or an authorized delegate. This letter is required for all governments participating on any proposal.

What is the letter of understanding?

This is a letter from an authorized representative of a participating non-government entity stating that the project team has that individual’s support to participate in the Georgia Smart program. This letter is required for all non-government entities participating on any proposal.

What defines a community?

The definition of a community under Georgia Smart is flexible. Communities are collections of government and non-government entities within the State of Georgia—led by a city, county, or consolidated city-county government—that are geographically collocated, adjacent, or nearby and have common or complementary goals, populations, interests, needs, and resources. This can include city governments, county governments, regional authorities, citizen groups, neighborhood planning units, professional and community organizations, corporations, donors, and other partners, that have decided to team together to solve common problems in their community.

Can a government participate in more than one proposal?

Yes, governments may collaborate on an unlimited number of proposals. However, a particular government may only be the lead on one proposal.

Can a non-government entity participate in more than one proposal?

Yes. There are no restrictions on the number of proposals on which a given non-government entity may collaborate.

Is there a limit to the number of collaborators on a proposal?

No, there are no restrictions on the number of collaborators (partnering governments, non-government entities, advisors, etc) for a single proposal.

How does the 2021 Georgia Smart Communities Challenge differ from previous years of the challenge?

Our new researcher-led community research model provides support to communities in different ways than previous offerings. While funding will not be provided to communities in this cohort, there are many benefits communities can expect to take advantage of through participation including:

  • Two Year Support - The Georgia Tech research team will provide expert support to communities, without fee, over an extended period of two years. These researchers will provide know-how at no cost by working with communities providing technical and academic support, through all project phases including developing a strong funding proposal, planning, community engagement, pilot implementation, and evaluation.
  • Georgia Tech Research Support - Over both years of programming, Georgia Smart will fund one GT researcher who will lead the cohort through the four phases of the program, as well as drive the planning, technical implementation, and research that will occur as part of the program. Additionally, Georgia Smart will find 6 – 9 additional faculty members to provide targeted workshop & educational support. 
  • Preparation for the funding proposals - The Georgia Smart team will provide community support as they plan and write for applicable funding proposal(s) as indicated.
  • Targeted Program - Communities selected for the 2021 cohort will be under one united topic area, forging connections between communities. Georgia Smart will also provide workshops on topics relevant to proposal development, in the interest of providing communities with all the resources they need to develop a strong proposal for funding. These workshops will occur monthly, likely virtually, for approximately 90 minutes. Researchers will follow up with communities at a subsequent meeting to work on how that information can be utilized in project planning.

What community cost-sharing is required?

Communities will need to provide documentation for cost-sharing of the following items:

  1. Project Lead/Staff Time - Communities will need to provide the in-kind contribution of staff time throughout the Planning and Community Engagement phases (Year One) of the project. It is expected the project lead and supporting team members dedicate meaningful amounts of time to the project every month including monthly status calls, monthly workshops, stakeholder engagement events, and at least one onsite event with Georgia Smart in your community. Communities must supply documentation with their application stating the source, nature, and value of the match, including letters of support or other documents guaranteeing the availability of such resources.
  2. Smart Community Corps - Communities will need to provide funds to hire two Smart Community Corps interns (a Georgia Tech student and a local higher education institution student) to be placed in your community to work with your team on your Georgia Smart project for 10-12 weeks during summer 2022 and summer 2023. Students will work 40hrs/week alongside your team to enhance project execution during the last quarter of the project. The cost of this is an estimated $32,000 over both summers.
  3. Project Financial Support - Communities will need to show evidence of investment or potential investment in broadband connectivity.

What is included in the Community Connectivity topic area?

Community Connectivity is defined as optimizing access to broadband internet to facilitate integrating smart technologies and should include projects relating to one or more of the following areas: Agricultural Technology (Ag-Tech), Healthcare, and Education & Workforce Development. Here is a chart depicting the topic areas, example projects, and example partners:

  • Agricultural Technology - Utilizing broadband connection to connect farms for smart agriculture - ex. Partners: Broadband providers, electric utilities, food processors and growers
  • Healthcare - Installing telehealth units in a local hospital - ex. Partners: Broadband providers, hospitals, urgent care facilities
  • Workforce Education & Development - Pursuing high-speed bandwidth in a local school to support remote classrooms - ex. Partners: Broadband providers, schools, universities/colleges

What do selected communities receive from Georgia Smart?

Georgia Smart provides support for selected local governments in the following ways:

  • Proposal Development - Developing a formal funding proposal will be included in the first half of Georgia Smart programming. Communities will be able to leverage Georgia Smart resources, like extensive state-wide partnerships, to ensure preparedness during proposal development.
  • Research Team - Researchers will be fully funded, and communities will not be expected to pay for any researcher services. Please see Section 4.1 for more information on the role of the research team in each phase.
  • Network Support - A network of partners & faculty will provide support in the form of monthly workshops to assist with the execution of projects, refine and develop long-term project plans, develop a funding proposal. By participating in the offered targeted educational webinars, communities will have the opportunity to learn from a variety of mentors on topics that are critical to project development. Communities can utilize this information to improve projects, as well as in general in the implementation of other smart city-related goals.
  • Project Execution - The research team will assist communities throughout the project timeline including everything from funding proposal writing and research plan development to implementation and evaluation. This will aid communities through project steps where they have limited expertise while also providing additional manpower for accomplishing tasks.
  • Cohort of Communities - Selected communities will be part of a cohort of communities that are all working towards projects under a similar topic area. This synergy between projects will allow communities to learn from each other in a meaningful way and create lasting relationships with diverse communities across the state. This model also allows communities to learn best practices from other smart communities and network partners.

Can projects last longer than two years?

Communities must complete the Georgia Smart portion of the project – that which was proposed and funded under the program – within the two-year program, and a tangible and complete project artifact (i.e., the planning study and any associated artifacts) must be produced and submitted to Georgia Smart within this timeframe. However, communities are encouraged to think about the long-term plan for their community and, as such, may continue to develop or implement their plans after Georgia Smart has concluded. Preference will be given to proposals that articulate sustainable plans for the long-term evolution of their community, but work done or proposed outside of the initial program year will not be considered when scoring proposals.

How will Georgia Tech researchers be involved with Georgia Smart and selected Communities under this model?

Thank you for your interest in participating in our program and communities! There are a few ways researchers can participate under our new model including as the main researcher serving the four communities, as a researcher who develops and disseminates a workshop on a key topic to our communities, or by continuing a working relationship with a community. We are currently seeking researchers with expertise on any of the following topics (or related topics) to facilitate community educational workshops: strategic planning, research-based technology piloting, cybersecurity, entrepreneurial training, and open & transparent data. Please refer to this sheet for more information or schedule a meeting with the Georgia Smart Program Manager to discuss participating in Georgia Smart.

What happens after a community is selected to participate?

Within forty-five (45) days of being notified, winning communities must sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and legal contract with Georgia Smart. This contract will establish a legal relationship between the community and Georgia Smart, which will define the requirements and expectations of each party during the execution phase of the program.

Teams are expected to begin work on the project in August 2021. Teams will be required to attend all workshops and standing meetings/calls. The dates and times of such events will be posted after winners have been announced. Each team will also be required to actively participate and help plan for any site visits by the GA Smart team.

Several project meetings will be held to review the status and outcomes of each project throughout the program. Each team will also be required to participate in a public presentation of the final project reports to share results, outcomes, and future plans.

How do we get in touch with Georgia Smart?

Please send all emails to or use any of the forms on this site. If you have in-depth questions or would like to meet with the Georgia Smart Program Manager, please follow this link to schedule a meeting.