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Welcome Remarks at Global City Teams Challenge Expo

Thank you, Chris, and good morning, everyone. Welcome to our day-long celebration of smart cities and the Internet of Things.

I need to give a big shout-out to Chris and Sokwoo Rhee from NIST and Glen Ricart and his staff from US Ignite, who are responsible for pulling today's event together.

Like everyone here, I'm excited and looking forward to discovering some of the new ways innovation will improve all our lives.

And I'm certainly in the right company to do that, because many of you here today are city officials and technology innovators, and it is in your communities that the real-world advances will first take shape.

As you've already heard, I direct the government agency that is co-sponsoring this event: The National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST.

I want to also mention our partner in this Expo—US Ignite—a nonprofit specializing in public-private partnerships to help accelerate IT technology solutions who, in addition to helping us organize this meeting, also hosted the Global Cities Team Challenge website and is webcasting all the talks and presentations that will be given today. What they are about is totally congruent with the mission of my agency.

For more than a century, NIST has been closely involved with new technological developments on the ground floor—often long before they become well-known to the broader public. The Internet of Things is no exception.

We were founded in 1901 as the National Bureau of Standards. We have a rather unique mission among federal science and technology agencies.

We promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness through advanced measurements, standards, and technology. That's a really broad mission, and its means that we have experts in an extremely diverse range of fields who are laser focused on helping industry and society get the biggest economic impact from the latest scientific and technical advances.

Since our inception, we've recognized that while the development and maintenance of standards provides the first and primary reason for our existence, our standards work must keep abreast with expansion of the frontiers of science and technology. And we're especially proud that research conducted on our two campuses has garnered five Nobel Prizes and a Kyoto Prize since 1987—again, a very unusual thing for a federal agency.

As we will see from the projects on display today, the Internet of Things combines many types of devices and technologies that must work together seamlessly. To make that happen, standards are, and will be, crucial.

To pursue our mission, NIST works with an array of interested parties—industry leaders, academic researchers, representatives of governments, and trade groups—to make sure those standards are both broadly acceptable and effective. You'll see examples of this when you visit the team exhibits today.

Our 3,000 federal employees include more than 1,800 scientists and engineers who have a variety of specialties, but they all work to ensure U.S. standards are based on fundamental science. Our fundamental science work often pays off in spectacularly practical ways:

The Global Positioning System that we all use in our cars and smartphones is made possible by highly accurate timing measurements. Those measurements are all based on "atomic clocks" that NIST helped invent in the 1950s.

Today, an atomic clock we call NIST-F2 (with a tick rate accuracy of one second in 300 million years) is the most accurate time standard in the world and is used to timestamp billions of dollars of financial transactions throughout the world every day. Our latest Strontium lattice clock has a tick rate accuracy of 1 second in 15 billion years!

Additionally, we work with other national measurement institutes around the world to inter-compare our national standards for measurement and link our global measurement system to the fundamental constants of nature. This ensures that a liter of gasoline or a watt of electricity or a kilogram of rice are the same everywhere that such standards are employed.

Which brings me back to why we are all here today. NIST is not just industry's national lab, as some call us, but we are an ally of a level playing field in the marketplace, one that we hope will enable many new uses for the Internet of Things.

Thank you, and I look forward to learning along with all of you about the amazing advances that the Global City Teams will display and illustrate to us today.

Created June 2, 2015, Updated October 1, 2016