Georgia Tech embeds research and data in latest smart challenge cohort

22nd July 2019 Jonathan Andrews

Georgia Tech will provide funding and technical expertise to four local governments to develop pilot projects around mobility, equity and smart resilience.

The public university’s Georgia Smart Communities Challenge will provide the four local governments in the US state of Georgia with a US$50,000 grant to be used to develop a pilot, technical assistance from a Georgia Tech researcher, access to a network of peer governments to share best practices and learnings, and access to a local, national, and international network of experts to advise pilot smart communities.

Debra Lam, Managing Director, Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation at Georgia Tech

Debra Lam, Managing Director, Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation at Georgia Tech told Cities Today that compared to other smart city challenges the focus isn’t on just one winner.

“We wanted to celebrate a cohort of winners, because we wanted to showcase a diversity of projects,” she said. “We also wanted to make sure we were a true partner. We embed research right from the beginning.”

Due to begin in September, the year-long process also involves three workshops focused on stakeholder engagement, data, funding and financing, and site visits.

“It’s underpinned by acquired research from some of the world’s foremost experts in transportation, climate change, and public policy, all working hand-in-hand over the course of the year,” she added. “The projects are grounded in data science.”

The four local governments to be included in this, the second, challenge are:

  • Columbus Smart Uptown Columbus-Muscogee County, which seeks to improve safety and security, transportation systems, and connectivity to drive economic growth in the uptown district.
  • Macon Smart Neighborhoods, Macon-Bibb County, will address underserved areas of the community by installing smart kiosks that will provide Internet connectivity and on-demand services.
  • Milton Smarter Safer Routes to School, City of Milton, will create a network of programmed devices such as smart phones to connect students and parents with biking and walking groups.
  • Woodstock Smart Master Plan and Corridor Study, City of Woodstock; will conduct a smart corridor and infrastructure study to improve mobility and congestion in the city and deal with rapid growth.

All are relatively smaller cities and communities which is a key target for the challenge.

“There’s a common misconception that [smart city challenges] can only be done in large cities,” Lam explained. “And it actually causes a lot of ignorance and exclusion for a lot of other communities. That doesn’t mean that they can’t benefit from technology and data. In some ways, it’s easier to do work in smaller cities, or communities.”

Some of last year’s winners have already received additional funding. Lam said that this is “testament” to the validity of the projects and demonstrated success between research and the community.

Collaborators in the Georgia Smart programme include the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Department of Economic Development, Technology Association of Georgia, and Georgia Power, among others.

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