MetroLab Network Enters Next Phase with 35 Partnerships between Universities and Local Governments



The organization will deepen its work with universities, local governments, and stakeholders in the civic ecosystem.

35 partnerships between universities and local governments in the U.S., U.K., and Canada have reaffirmed their commitment to civic research and innovation, joining MetroLab in its next phase.  Members of the network establish partnerships between universities and local governments to drive research-informed, evidence-based policy and enable data and technology transformation.  

MetroLab fosters a peer network of stakeholders from academia and local government that constitute an applied, interdisciplinary field of research and practice.  It connects that community to an ecosystem of federal, philanthropic, and civic partners with a shared interest in the promise of civic research and innovation.

“The commitment of MetroLab’s members reflects the strength of the civic research field, the community that it brings together, and the promise for deeper partnership and collaboration across sectors in this domain,” said Ben Levine, Executive Director of MetroLab Network.

“This is an important moment for the organization,” said Bill Fulton, Chair of MetroLab’s Board of Directors, who serves as the Director of the Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research.  “It signifies a redoubling of our commitment to the success of our members’ research and innovation efforts in their communities.”

MetroLab Network is an independent 501-c3 organization based in Washington DC, supported by funding from its members, the National Science Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and a mix of corporate and nonprofit partners.  MetroLab has also received substantial support from the Annie E. Casey and MacArthur Foundations. MetroLab Network was launched by 21 founding city-university pairings in September 2015 as part of the White House’s Smart Cities Initiative and was housed at Carnegie Mellon University during its initial phase through 2019. 

“MetroLab has fulfilled the initial vision to create a national ecosystem of cities and universities collaborating on research and innovation,” said Debra Lam, Managing Director of Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation at Georgia Tech and member of MetroLab’s board, who served as Pittsburgh’s Chief Innovation & Performance Officer during MetroLab’s launch. “The organization is now taking that vision to the next level, with an expansion to include international members and through collaboration with partners like the National Science Foundation.”

MetroLab’s university-local government members range from small communities to global metropolises, focused on the research and deployment of projects that offer technologically- and analytically-based solutions to challenges facing communities including: inequality in income, health, mobility, security and opportunity; aging infrastructure; and environmental sustainability and resiliency.  MetroLab’s members are working on a range of transformative projects and initiatives; members and their efforts are detailed below. 

“When you look at the projects underway across MetroLab’s university and local government partnerships, you see the future of our cities and communities — using data, technology, and innovation to drive a more sustainable, safer, more equitable, and more just society,” said Martin O’Malley, who serves as the Chair of MetroLab’s Advisory Council and served as the 61st Governor of Maryland and the 47th Mayor of Baltimore.

U.S. MEMBERS and notable projects underway

Arlington County and Virginia Tech are working through Virginia Tech’s National Capital Region <read more> on a number of transportation and urban planning issues in Northern Virginia.

Atlanta and the Georgia Institute of Technology are working together on public safety, transportation, and innovation projects and Georgia Tech is working with communities throughout Georgia as part of the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge <read more>.

Austin and University of Texas, Austin are collaborating on a number of projects including the use of video analytics to assess the city’s traffic and road usage patterns to gather better transportation data and develop site-specific solutions <read more>.

Boston, Boston University, and Northeastern University are partnered on projects related to data science, transportation, sustainability, and more, through the Boston University Initiative on Cities <read more> and Boston Area Research Initiative <read more>.

Boulder, Denver, and the University of Colorado Boulder are working on a range of projects addressing sustainability and planning, including a stormwater planning tool that uses GIS and data forecasting to inform policymaking <read more>.

Chattanooga and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga are partnering on the MLK Smart Corridor, used to test new technologies and generate data-driven outcomes <read more>. They are partnered with The Enterprise Center on a number of their initiatives.  

Chicago and the University of Chicago are partnering on a number of projects through the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation related to urban planning, sustainability, and air quality sensing <read more>. 

Cuyahoga County, Case Western Reserve University, and Cleveland State University are working together in many ways including through the Internet of Things Collaborative <read more> to drive transdisciplinary research, education and innovation in the Internet of Things to spur economic transformation and improve the quality of life for residents in Greater Cleveland <read more>.

Fairfax County and George Mason University are collaborating on data-driven decision making to develop healthy communities and improved social service delivery <read more>.

Gainesville and the University of Florida are working on several projects related to transportation and public health, including one focused on reducing costs of frequent EMS users by tracking patient metrics and allows for real-time communication between emergency workers and hospitals <read more>.

Guilford County and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro are working together on a multi-organization community effort to treat and prevent opioid overdoses and addictions <read more>.

Houston and Rice University are leveraging the Kinder Institute for Urban Research <read more> on a number of projects, including collaborating with residents and stakeholders to plan for future flood mitigation given the devastation seen during Hurricane Harvey <read more>.

Greater Kansas City, University of Kansas and University of Missouri-Kansas City are working on projects related to data handling and privacy, including the Draft Model Data Handling Policy for cities presented at the 2019 MetroLab Summit, with a view to crowdsourcing its next iteration.  Other projects relate to government operations and urban planning, including the Abandoned to Vacant project that uses open data to map abandoned houses and give potential buyers a sense of the surrounding neighborhood <read more>. They are partnered with KC Digital Drive on a number of their initiatives. 

Memphis and University of Memphis are preparing for the adoption of connected and autonomous vehicles, by engaging communities and undertaking research to better understand usage and adoption <read more>.

Greater Miami and the Beaches, the University of Miami, Florida International University, and Miami Dade College are working on a range of issues related to future cities <read more> climate resilience, sea-level rise, flooding, and urban development. A recent project called Land Access for Neighborhood Development is a mapping platform that allows Miami policymakers to visualize where lots are available near transit that could become housing options for underserved populations <read more>.

New York and New York University are partnered on a number of projects through the Center for Urban Science and Progress, deploying data and technology solutions throughout NYC <read more>.

Newark and the New Jersey Institute of Technology are working with partners in the region through the New Jersey Innovation Institute on a number of smart cities initiatives, most notably artificial intelligence and video analytics for public safety and citizen well-being, and work with city representatives on developing solutions to aid police with public engagement training <read more>.

Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Pittsburgh are working on a range of projects related to transportation, sustainability, urban planning, and data management through CMU’s Metro21: Smart Cities Institute <read more> and the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center at the University of Pittsburgh <read more>. 

Portland and Portland State University are working as part of their Digital City Testbed Center on testing new technologies, including air quality sensing and community engagement strategies targeting specific community needs <read more>.

San Antonio and the University of Texas, San Antonio are collaborating on SmartSA to leverage new and emerging technologies and data to improve the quality of life for all San Antonians <read more>.

San Diego and the University of California, San Diego are collaborating on projects related to water, transportation, and disaster response, including a project that uses video analytics to monitor and respond to wildfires <read more>.

Seattle and University of Washington are partnering to develop data science techniques that accelerate responsible data sharing and integration to enable improved public service delivery <read more>.

South Bend and the University of Notre Dame partner on a number of research and student engagement projects through the Center for Civic Innovation <read more> including one that is collecting data on contamination from lead paint in homes and created at-home testing kits to improve health outcomes <read more>.

Tampa and the University of South Florida are collaborating on projects focused on autonomous vehicles, cybersecurity, and traffic management, including a project that focuses on Mobility as a Service and another that will pilot sidewalk mounted solar panels to power transportation infrastructure <read more>.

Hennepin County, the Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the University of Minnesota are working on a range of issues, including key transportation challenges <read more> and green infrastructure <read more>.  In a recent project, Hennepin County and the Minnesota Design Center partnered to better integrate county data across departments, resulting in prototypes that visualized housing disparities, evaluated assistance systems for the homeless, and promoted a culture of data sharing.

INTERNATIONAL MEMBERS and notable projects underway

Bristol and the University of Bristol are partnering on a number of projects, including Bristol’s Smart Cities Strategy, its One City Plan, and the University’s Bristol Digital Futures Institute <read more>.

Edmonton and the University of Alberta are partnering to build a more vibrant, healthy and connected city through transportation, public health, artificial intelligence and smart, sustainable buildings. One project involves an intelligent conversational agent specifically designed for seniors that acts as a virtual companion and assistant while also increasing well-being and safety, especially for seniors living alone. Another project, focused on intelligent transportation and connected vehicle technology, will help identify how connected vehicle technology can best be applied to Canadian roads <read more>.

Glasgow and the University of Glasgow are collaborating on 5G rollout and use-cases, responsible video analytics for public safety, and establishment of the Glasgow Riverside Innovation District <read more>.

Liverpool and the University of Liverpool are partnering to develop a Civic Data Trust that will serve as an integrated data platform and digital facility that will enable Liverpool City Region to become a global player in the data-driven health tech by providing a secure, monitored digital environment where partners can work collaboratively to tackle major health problems, and identify, test and implement solutions <read more>.


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