Camden County Awarded State Innovation Challenge Grant to Improve City Infrastructure

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(Camden, NJ) – Camden County is one of nine communities to receive a $100,000 grant aimed at advancing plans to strengthen local innovation ecosystems. Governor Phil Murphy announced that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) will provide the funding through the pilot round of the Innovation Challenge.

“In order to continue the historic economic growth we are experiencing in Camden City, we will utilize the funding to develop a holistic, integrated approach to improving downtown Camden’s surface transportation performance and integrate this plan with other best practices involving public safety,” said Freeholder Susan Shin Angulo, liaison to the Camden County Department of Public Works. “Joined by our partners in the public and private sector, Camden County intends to address how emerging transportation data, technologies and applications can be integrated with existing systems to address Camden’s current and future transportation challenges.”

The growth in employment and investments by the public and private sectors in Camden City has reached nearly $2 billion. Over 2,000 new jobs have been created in the past few years and this number will increase by an additional 3,000 new jobs in the next three years. This economic renaissance coincides with the growing success of the waterfront attractions and related seasonal special events, along with educational and medical institutions, to create a diverse foundation for a strong downtown.

“Today’s cities demand state-of-the-art solutions to accommodate their growing populations, employment and investments. We must study ways to optimize existing infrastructure, and to leverage citizen participation to create better land-use decisions, that will stimulate a creative, entrepreneurial economy. In short, smart cities are innovative cities,” Shin Angulo said. “The challenge that we are currently faced with is that the existing downtown street grid of Camden City is antiquated and ill-prepared to handle this influx of economic growth.”

Over the past decade, cities of all sizes have determined that efficient transportation systems are a key ingredient to economic growth with local, county and state governments across the country developing smarter mobility solutions to address the complex traffic issues that cities face. Smarter transportation systems recognize that there is a shift from transport operators reacting to situations, to anticipating and avoiding them. Intelligent transport systems attempt to integrate and interconnect information from multiple governmental departments and public agencies to enhance safety and reduce congestion.

Camden County will work with Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, Rowan University’s School of Engineering and Verizon to outline a five-year plan and implementation strategy. The first component of this plan being an intelligent traffic system network.

“Cooper’s Ferry Partnership is excited to work with the city, county and its partners to develop a plan for a smart city, a plan that incorporates intelligent transportation systems with adaptive signal controls,” said Kris Kolluri, CEO for Cooper’s Ferry Partnership.

In July, the EDA launched the Innovation Challenge giving government entities an opportunity to submit proposals and compete for planning awards of up to $100,000 each. The other communities receiving awards for their planning proposals are: the City of Bridgeton, the City of New Brunswick, Passaic County, the City of Trenton, Atlantic County, the City of Atlantic City, Union Township and Monmouth County.

“Communities across New Jersey responded to this challenge with a clear commitment to spurring innovation in their local ecosystems,” said Governor Murphy. “These plans will help further New Jersey’s ability to compete and win in the 21st century economy.”