Among the MetroLab Network research projects being conducted elsewhere that UTC can tap into are:
- Georgia Institute of Technology project to create an app that helps bike riders find the best routes in Atlanta. The data will be used to make bike routes more efficient and also to determine the best way to integrate bike lanes into the city’s traffic flow.
- Collaboration between Harvard University and Boston to improve the city’s 311 system, which allows residents to request basic city services such as trash pickup, filling potholes, broken traffic signals and paying parking tickets.A
- University of Washington study of how climate change has affected Seattle, Wash., in terms of power usage. Using more than 100 temperature sensors, research data will show how specific locations react to temperature fluctuations and give the city a better idea of where to allocate power resources to meet demand.
- University of Colorado examination of a $1.5 billion investment for storm drainage improvements in Denver. The goal is to see whether natural elements such trees, grass and other green solutions can be used rather than concrete and other construction-based fixes.
- University of Chicago study to streamline the city’s efforts to control its rat population and create more efficient methods and resources for food inspections at local restaurants.
UTC was welcomed this week into an exclusive neighborhood that includes Harvard, Georgia Tech, Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame.
Although they were granted membership a few months ago, UTC and the city of Chattanooga were officially introduced to other members of the MetroLab Network during the group’s annual summit in Atlanta.
“This type of coordinated partnership between UTC and the city of Chattanooga has extensive, long-term gains for everyone,” Chancellor Steven Angle said.
As part of MetroLab, UTC and Chattanooga will have access to technology research being done in 41 cities, four counties and 55 universities. Other members of the network will have the same access to UTC and Chattanooga’s work.
Chancellor Angle and others at UTC have spent the last few years “deepening the university’s focus in collaborating with the city and the greater community so that the outcomes of the research are more meaningful,” says Dr. Mina Sartipi, a UC Foundation professor of Computer Science and Engineering and one of the leading figures in UTC’s acceptance into MetroLab.
“Chattanooga’s city officials and researchers have already rolled up their sleeves to figure out how to work together towards finding the most informed solutions possible to specific challenges,” MetroLab’s Executive Director Ben Levine said in a news release.
Ken Hays, president of the Enterprise Center in Chattanooga, notes that, as part of MetroLab, UTC is part of a national trend when it comes to scientific research.
“One of the movements that’s happening in the national research world is the direction of cities and researchers working together,” says Hays.
The Enterprise Center in Chattanooga is a nonprofit group whose goal is establish and market the city as a hub of technological innovation and research. Hays points to Chattanooga’s 10-Gig fiber-optic network and SmartCities initiative as credentials that the city is one of the country’s leaders in technological innovation. Being asked to join MetroLab “is a great testament to the efforts that have gone on and what the goals are here.”
UTC and Chattanooga will share their data on three locally generated research projects:
- Already underway, UTC is collaborating with the University of Vermont and the city of Burlington, Vermont, in a project using ground-piercing radar to examine Chattanooga’s underground utility pipes and conduits and document their condition and location. The goal is to fix any structural problems but also to map pipelines not listed on the city’s current underground map. In those cases, the conduit may be accidentally damaged by construction and other projects that don’t know it’s there.
- Partnering with Georgia Tech, UTC and Chattanooga are conducting what is dubbed The Autonomous Vehicle Planning Project or, more concisely, integrating self-driving vehicles with those driven by human beings. Using the city’s 10-gig fiber-optic network, the study will, among other angles, examine such situations as bad weather knocking out the GPS systems that control self-driving cars and how they can communicate efficiently and safely with human-driven vehicles.
- Researchers from UTC, Chattanooga, the University of Washington, Portland State University and US Ignite are studying the various transportation choices in Chattanooga — vehicles, buses, bikes, walking — with the goal of integrating them into an overall system that promotes physical health.
“Being a member of MetroLab Network is very exciting for my research and the work of my colleagues,” Sartipi says.