Two new city-university partnerships join MetroLab Network


Launched as part of the White House’s Smart Cities Initiative in September 2015, the MetroLab Network has welcome two new partnerships to the group: Chattanooga, with the University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC); and Nashville, with Vanderbilt University.

With the new additions, the MetroLab Network now includes 41 cities, four counties and 55 universities that work in city/county-university partnerships focused on bringing data, analytics and innovation to city government.

The network’s mission is to pair university researchers with city policy makers to undertake research, development and deployment projects that improve infrastructure, public services, and environmental sustainability. MetroLab’s city-university partnerships are mutually beneficial relationships in which the university is the city’s R&D department, and the city is the testbed.

Both Chattanooga and Nashville have long-standing partnerships with their universities and strong examples of collaborative research projects. Chattanooga and UTC are partnering on three US National Science Foundation (NSF) funded projects focused on planning for autonomous vehicles, mapping and monitoring underground infrastructure, and focusing on health, while increasing urban mobility.

The Autonomous Vehicle Planning Project will investigate fleet management in extreme urban driving scenarios, and addresses the corresponding challenges for connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs). Early demonstration and evaluation will be conducted by researchers at UTC and the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

The researchers focused on urban mobility are working to build a multidisciplinary team, including academic researchers from the UTC, the University of Washington, Portland State University, US Ignite and community stakeholders, to plan integrative research on health-centric urban mobility that will bring a new mobility paradigm in the context of smart and connected communities.

Nashville and Vanderbilt University are collaborating on three projects focusing on emergency vehicle management, sensor deployments, and a transit app called Transit Hub, which collects transit information from across a variety of platforms to help end users while also offering the city information about its public transport systems.

Their emergency vehicle management project uses predictive methods that inform a routing algorithm, leading to reduced response times. Another project focuses on embedded computers and video cameras to learn how distributed computing techniques can be used to facilitate more intelligent mobility decisions for vehicles, bikes and pedestrians in a connected city.

MetroLab has announced that the rescheduled dates for its 2017 Annual Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, will now be December 13-14, following postponement of the original September dates due to Hurricane Irma.

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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).