The New Jersey Economic Development Authority has awarded the City of Newark a $100,000 grant as part of the second round of its Innovation Challenge.

Last fall, nine municipalities were awarded $100,000 each in the first wave of a program designed to encourage communities to strengthen local innovation ecosystems through partnerships with higher education institutions and other strategic partners.

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), along with New Jersey Innovation Institute (an NJIT corporation), Newark Community Economic Development Corporation, Public Service Gas & Electric (PSEG) and iNeighborhoods are strategic partners in the grant.

The project proposal, “TechSmart Newark,” lays out plans for the expansion of the technology infrastructure of Newark — specifically to support urban use of the internet of things (IoT). The city’s plan focuses on outcomes and will be built on technology and infrastructure improvements, which include:

Newark Fiber Expansion: An innovative new program that offers 1-gigabit and 10-gigabit speed for buildings, in parks, on streets and eventually in homes. Newark has long been a leader in infrastructure — canals, trains, shipping, radio and airplanes — and this program leverages that infrastructure to propel Newark into the 21st century by permitting a spectrum of community-inspired applications of IoT addressing the critical issues of urban resilience.

Public Wi-Fi/Kiosk Expansion: Newark’s development attracted Google/Sidewalk Labs subsidiary Intersection to choose the city as the third U.S. deployment site for their digital kiosks that provide free public Wi-Fi and security cameras, and display citizen services along with directed digital advertising. The LinkNYC project is actively installing 5,000 kiosks throughout New York City and LinkUK put 750 kiosks in London. The digital kiosk project is in the planning phase to add Philadelphia as the next U.S. site.

The kiosks will allow for free Wi-Fi within 150 feet, free calls and free phone charging. They will also allow access to local information, including social services and transit schedules. As part of the initial rollout, Newark will receive 45 LinkNWK kiosks over the next year, 30 located downtown and 15 throughout the city’s residential neighborhoods.

5G Cellphone Network Capability: Fiber is a necessary component of a 5G cellphone network, according to the Fiber Broadband Association. “5G,” or 5th Generation, refers to the next iteration of mobile networks, which are expected to provide gigabit speeds, ultrahigh capacity and ultralow latency. Even without 5G, existing mobile networks are being upgraded with the deployment of additional antennae or “small cells,” also known as cell densification.

Smart Traffic Light Expansion: Newark currently has about 550 traffic lights, 35 of which were converted to smart traffic lights — a vehicle traffic control system that combines traditional traffic lights with an array of sensors and artificial intelligence to intelligently route vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

The expansion of smart city assets and infrastructure following an open systems model is expressly designed to attract the entrepreneurial startups and emerging technology companies that are developing products and services that apply IoT to the challenges facing urban living and city management. With about a dozen affordable coworking spaces, incubators and accelerators — including Venturelink at NJIT, which with 110,000 square feet of space is the largest business incubator in New Jersey and one of the largest in the United States — Newark and NJIT have a strong starting point for accommodating the influx of businesses.

To learn more about the Innovation Challenge, visit https://www.njeda.com/financing_incentives/technology_lifesciences/Innovation-Challenge.