New university research center to study smart transportation in New York and other cities


The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has selected a research consortium led by the New York University Tandon School of Engineering to become the first Tier 1 University Transportation Center (UTC) in New York City, charged with taking on some of the most pressing mobility challenges facing urban areas of all sizes.

The consortium proposal, led by Kaan Ozbay, a professor in the NYU’s Department of Civil and Urban Engineering, won the prestigious UTC designation from among 212 applications to the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act competition. The new research and education center will receive a five-year, US$7m USDOT grant that will be supplemented with matching funds, bringing its budget to US$10.5m for the five years. The University of Washington at Seattle, University of Texas El Paso, Rutgers University New Brunswick, and City University of New York will join NYU to use their home cities as living laboratories in which to study challenging transportation problems and field-test novel solutions in close collaboration with transportation users and multiple partners.

The new center, called Connected Cities for Smart Mobility toward Accessible and Resilient Transportation (C2SMART), aims to accelerate transportation opportunities arising from unprecedented recent advances in communication and smart technologies. In addition to research aimed at finding solutions to transportation issues through the use of data and technology, C2SMART will focus on education, workforce development, and accelerating technology from the research phase to the real world.

C2SMART will:

Make it possible to safely share data from field tests and non-traditional sensing technologies so that decision makers can address a wide range of urban mobility problems involving people and goods using multiple modes of transportation; Develop innovative solutions that focus on disruptive technologies, such as connected vehicles and people, autonomous vehicles, shared mobility programs, and the Internet of Things; Work closely with city and state stakeholders, including government agencies, policy makers, the private sector, non-profit organizations and entrepreneurs, to overcome institutional barriers to innovations; Train the workforce of tomorrow to deal with these new problems in ways that are not covered in existing transportation curricula, attracting a new generation of engineers, app developers, data scientists and sensor builders to the transportation field.

“C2SMART brings together a highly respected group of academics with specialized transportation expertise from across the country, many of whom have collaborated for years, at an opportune time,” explained Ozbay, director of C2SMART. “The availability of data and technology has escalated exponentially even within the last two years, creating opportunities to change the transportation paradigm. Rather than just focusing on developing technologies that make a city smarter, we are dedicated to the critical step of connecting disparate technologies for cities of different populations, infrastructure scales and systems.”

NYU’s dean, Katepalli R Sreenivasan, added, “New York provides an ideal laboratory to develop research that can help transportation decision makers create better lives for citizens. We are confident that this center will provide major impetus to advancing several forms of transportation technologies, and to positively impacting cities of various sizes around the USA.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).