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SMART CITIES
Smart Energy  
9 May 2016

US city joins White House smart cities network

Virginia Tech and Arlington County have partnered to join 34 other city-university partnerships to address urban challenges through data, analytics and tech innovation.

The university and Arlington County have joined the MetroLab Network – which is focused on bringing data, analytics, and innovation to city government.

According to a release, the MetroLab Network was launched by 21 founding city/county-university pairings in September 2015 at the White House as part of the Obama Administration’s “Smart Cities” Initiative.

Universities serve as the research and development arm of the partnership, while the city serves as a testbed for smart cities technology and policy.

The MetroLab Network affords university faculty members and students access to real-world laboratories to develop and test tools and programmes that use information, data analytics, sensing technologies.

Those cities and counties belonging to the MetroLab Network benefit from the technical expertise of universities, resulting in solutions that reduce the cost of infrastructure and services; make cities more sustainable and resilient; and ultimately improve citizens’ quality of life.

Virginia Tech president Tim Sands said: “Virginia Tech’s partnership with Arlington County and the MetroLab Network … further strengthens our long-standing relationship with the county, offers our researchers an opportunity to address issues and challenges that significantly impact the future of urban society, and our students can engage in hands-on, problem-based learning that will open the door to future careers.”

“Becoming a part of the national MetroLab Network will spur innovative solutions for our community,” added Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey.

“It will be exciting to watch this partnership use data and technology to improve the country’s infrastructure and enhance both economic development and the quality of life for all who live and work here.”

Smart cities projects

Virginia Tech and Arlington County have reportedly signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to carry out at least three research, development, and deployment projects.

The projects include transportation characteristics analysis – observing intersections and collect data on pedestrian, bicycle, bus, and vehicle movements at intersections. The data is expected to help develop smart city protocols that Arlington County can use to make informed decisions about planning and operational investments in dense urban areas.

In addition, the city’s Crystal City sensor networks will implement and collect data from “Internet of Things” sensor devices in Crystal City, in addition to utility and building automation data to increase building energy efficiency and environmental quality.

Lastly, Virginia Tech electrical and computer engineering students will spend two semesters working on a smart county/Internet of Things project where they will utilise emerging technologies, collect data, and perform analysis on specific problems of interest to the county. In the future, these projects can expand to other departments and majors.

Ben Levine, interim director of MetroLab Network said: “We are thrilled to welcome Virginia Tech and Arlington County to our network.

“Their focus on transportation, environment, and data analytics will help drive progress in the cities, counties, and regions that are addressing similar issues across the country. Furthermore, their collaboration with our extensive national network will accelerate progress in Arlington County on many of its priorities.”

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Omotolani Sulu
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Demand-led research is the bane of any project success

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