Miami Beach – The City of Miami Beach is one of 35 “Champion Cities” selected as finalists in the 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition that encourages city leaders to uncover bold, inventive ideas that confront the toughest problems cities face.

The Champion Cities, who beat out 285 other cities, will now begin a six-month testing phase where they will conduct public prototypes of their ideas with grant funding of up to $100,000 per city, a new addition to the competition this year.

Miami Beach proposes to create an integrated, centralized data operations system with data science and analytics on hydrologicaland meteorological datasets. The idea is to exponentially improve Miami Beach’s capacity for making better decisions about how to deal with a weather event or reduce risk of damage citywide from weather and climate.

The City of Miami Beach has spent more that a half-billion-dollars on protecting the city and its high price-tag developments and residences from rising sea levels. The city, along with many others in South Florida, has seen increasing street flooding in a region of the country where many neighborhoods are only 6 ½-feet above sea level.

“Simply stated, we need integrated meteorological and tidal predictions to protect people and property,” city officials said in a statement.

Miami Beach will refine its idea during the testing phase with up to $100,000, as well as personalized support from innovation experts, to test and begin building support for its plan.

Of the 35 cities, who will submit new applications in August, four will receive $1 million awards in October and one will receive a grand prize of $5 million to bring their ideas to life.

“We received hundreds of bold and creative ideas from cities around the country in response to the 2018 Mayors Challenge, and these 35 really stood out for their potential to improve people’s lives,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City.

“The next six months are a great opportunity for the cities to test their ideas and make them even more innovative and effective.”

The 35 Champion Cities won based on their vision, potential for impact, implementation plan and potential to spread to other cities.

The selection committee is cochaired by former U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and former Xerox Chairman & CEO Ursula Burns.

“Miami Beach will rise to the challenges of climate change and rising sea levels. Our city has been the champion of many notable issues, and we are inspired through this prestigious recognition as leaders in finding innovative solutions to make our city as resilient as possible in all areas,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber. “We will work with our partners in Miami, to utilize the most effective methods to analyze useful weather data that will ultimately enhance the quality of life of the Greater Miami area.”