Rodolfo Scannone: Boston and Pittsburgh Partner on Student Trek

Earlier this yRodolfoear myself and a team of graduate students from Carnegie Mellon visited Boston in an immersive trek to kick-off our Social Innovation Fellowship. We met with academic, government, and social entrepreneurs to learn about the variety of ways that the City of Boston, and the local universities have used social innovation to improve their city.

We were hosted by the Boston Area Research Initiative (BARI) and the City of Boston, both part of the MetroLab Network. Dan O’Brien, Director of BARI shared his insight on BARI’s work. We learned how they were using big data to better understand the different neighborhoods of the city.

The City of Boston Department of Innovation and Technology explained their role and efforts in improving quality of life in Boston with projects such as CityScore.  The City’s New Urban Mechanics team shared their plans for testing autonomous vehicles in conjunction with improving vehicle and pedestrian safety. They also discussed the Housing Innovation Lab which works to accelerate the pace of housing innovation to ensure that as Boston grows, evections and displacement do not.

We also had the opportunity to learn about  MIT Senseable City Lab projects such as how sewage can tell us about our public health.  Additionally, we had a very exciting meeting with Co-Op Power where they shared their experiences on bringing sustainable energy to local communities.

The Social Innovation Fellows are a multi-disciplinary group of students from programs including Public Policy, Engineering, Computer Science, Fine Arts and business.  This trek marked the kick-off of our program and we will now take insights gained from the trek and work with Carnegie Mellon researchers and the City of Pittsburgh over the next semester.

We found this trek to be a great opportunity for collaboration, and an engaging way to strengthen the partnerships between our universities and cities.  If you are interested in replicating this type of trek with your city or university, send us an email. We’d be happy to discuss further.