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(Oct 1 2015)   Administration Announces New "Smart Cities" Initiative to Help Communities Tackle Local Challenges and Improve Services 
(Oct 1 2015)   IREC Launches New Solar Career Mapping Tool; NARC Discusses its New Regional Solar Deployment Tools 




Administration Announces New "Smart Cities" Initiative to Help Communities Tackle Local Challenges and Improve Services

The Obama Administration has announced new “Smart Cities” Initiative that will invest over $160 million in federal research and leverage more than 25 new technology collaborations to help local communities tackle key challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate, and improving the delivery of city services. The new initiative is part of this Administration’s overall commitment to target federal resources to meet local needs and support community-led solutions.

Over the past six years, the Administration has pursued a place-based approach to working with communities as they tackle a wide range of challenges, from investing in infrastructure and filling open technology jobs to bolstering community policing. Advances in science and technology have the potential to accelerate these efforts. An emerging community of civic leaders, data scientists, technologists, and companies are joining forces to build “Smart Cities” – communities that are building an infrastructure to continuously improve the collection, aggregation, and use of data to improve the life of their residents – by harnessing the growing data revolution, low-cost sensors, and research collaborations, and doing so securely to protect safety and privacy.

As part of the initiative, the Administration is announcing:

  • More than $35 million in new grants and over $10 million in proposed investments to build a research infrastructure for Smart Cities by the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Standards and Technology.

  • Nearly $70 million in new spending and over $45 million in proposed investments to unlock new solutions in safety, energy, climate preparedness, transportation, health and more, by the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, Department of Energy, Department of Commerce, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

  • More than 20 cities participating in major new multi-city collaborations that will help city leaders effectively collaborate with universities and industry.

More …

IREC Launches New Solar Career Mapping Tool; NARC Discusses its New Regional Solar Deployment Tools

A new, highly interactive Solar Career Map launched yesterday (September 17) by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) is designed for workforce professionals, educators, policymakers and job seekers. It explores an expanding universe of solar-energy occupations, describing diverse jobs across the industry, charting possible progression between them, and identifying the high-quality training necessary to do them well.

Central to the new career mapping tool is a series of compelling videos with solar instructors and other professionals who describe jobs, skills, credentials and education across a variety of solar careers.

The result of extensive national expert input and close review by partners in industry and education, the interactive platform offers a broad vision of the solar industry, from manufacturing and design to installation and operations.

The Solar Career Map and videos are available at

As national administrator of the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN), IREC convened a national working group of solar experts to develop the original career mapping tool for the industry in 2011. Designed to demonstrate the breadth of the industry and its critical occupations, as well as the necessity for high quality solar training in a variety of related fields, the Solar Career Map quickly became a popular tool for the USDOE SunShot Initiative and a model for other clean energy sectors.

"President Obama has called for the training of 75,000 solar workers by 2020. This map helps point us in the right direction to do so," says Sarah White, Ph.D., chair of the National Working Group on Solar Career Pathways, and the lead on developing both the original and updated maps. "It demonstrates that a robust domestic solar industry will rely on a tremendous variety of workers, with a breathtaking range of skills."

"The solar industry has evolved tremendously in recent years - and change is only speeding up," adds IREC's Joe Sarubbi, project manager for the SITN. "The quality of this mapping tool has been one constant in driving attention to the need for quality training at every level. Today's Solar Career Map is an exciting, updated, interactive tool."

High-quality work and high-quality jobs are critical to a robust, reliable solar industry that builds consumer confidence. While many people only of roof-top installations when considering solar energy jobs, this tool prompts instructors, policymakers, and job seekers to consider a range of occupations that are accessible to workers with a wide variety of skills and experience. And by describing the demands of an entire value chain, the tool builds a strong case for investing in better solar skill delivery.