Toward a Smart City That Works for Everyone

White House LogoYesterday the President announced a 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.

Through a series of grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the administration is seeking to “bring academic researchers and community stakeholders together to unlock transformational progress on important challenges”. One of the NSF grants is for our partner, University of Chicago and their Urban Center for Computation and Data (Urban CCD), which is running the Array of Things project. Here’s how the NSF describes the grant:

UrbanCCD - outlines 2012$3 million for the University of Chicago to support the creation of the Array of Things in Chicago, the first such network to serve as an infrastructure for researchers to rapidly deploy sensors, embedded systems, computing, and communications systems at scale in an urban environment. Comprised of 500 nodes deployed throughout the city of Chicago, each with power, Internet, and a base set of sensing and embedded information systems capabilities, the Array of Things will continuously measure the physical environment of urban areas at the city block scale and unlock promising new research trajectories.

Array-of-Things-LogoLast month Smart Chicago began a collaboration with Urban CCD to “further efforts by both organizations to make technology and data more accessible to citizens and to use data to impact policy that betters resident’s lives”. Specifically, we’re going to work together in the design and implementation stages of Array of Things to consider the general public’s use cases for the network and creating applications relevant to everyday life in Chicago. The main thrust of our work will be to design and implement a strategic plan to inform and engage the public in the deployment and utilization of AoT.

Smart Chicago is providing guidance on how best to allocate resources to designate AoT as a platform that improves the lives of Chicago residents as well as propose and design apps for the use of AoT by the residents of Chicago that are informed by the needs and aspirations of those residents. One main role is to work to include the voice of residents in the development of the AoT platform through convenings and other modes of communication & collaboration.

internet-of-things-council-logoI also serve on the ITA Internet of Things Council, whose mission is to “to drive advancement of IoT technology, policy and industry, establishing Chicago and the Midwest as an epicenter of IoT”.

As always, our focus is on how technology can improve the lives of regular residents of Chicago and the entire region. We are devoted to bringing resident voice into the rooms where technologists create features, where scientists decide specifications, where policy makers set direction. More to come.