On July 12, 2018, researchers, community members, government workers and members of the business community gathered at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Baltimore office to review and summarize the research activities around Smart Cities which have taken place over the last year. The University of Maryland, College Park and the National Center for Smart Growth co-hosted the event with the Federal Reserve, Morgan State University, The University of Baltimore, and Johns Hopkins University. The purpose of the event was to review the process and findings of the 2017 NSF research grant (detailed below), and to provide an opportunity for networking and discussion of potential future projects. Speakers included Shonte Eldridge, Baltimore City Deputy Chief of Operations; Don Linebaugh, Interim Dean of the University of Maryland College Park’s School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation; Gerrit Knaap, Professor and Director of the National Center for Smart Growth at the University of Maryland, College Park; Sheri Parks, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, Maryland Institute College of Art; Willow Lung-Amam, Assistant Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Maryland; Seema Iyer, Associate Director of the Jacob France Institute, University of Baltimore; and Katherine Klosek, Director of Applied Research at the Center for Government Excellence (GovEx) at Johns Hopkins University.
SCC-Planning: How Can Investments In Smart Cities Technologies Improve The Lives Of Low-Income, Inner-City Residents
New “smart cities” technologies are poised to radically alter the form and function of cities. Free public Wi-Fi, the Internet of things, autonomous vehicles, web-based curricula, personal health monitors and smart transit hubs have the potential to radically change how transportation, education, public health, and economic development are organized and delivered. In the past, unfortunately, the adoption of new technologies has often created what is known as the “digital divide” and exacerbated disparities in income and wealth. The extent to which free access to the Internet, greater transit mobility, and other smart cities technologies can increase access to opportunity, enhance social mobility, and mitigate the digital divide-especially for the young-is an important yet unexplored research question. To understand whether and how smart cities investments can improve the lives of low-income residents the project team will: engage with residents and business owners to assess the needs of low-income residents; develop plans for technical research on how to design interventions that meet the needs of low-income residents; and develop plans for integrated research on what effects smart cities investments actually have on low-income communities. Such understanding is critical for the effective and equitable deployment of smart cities technologies.
This project will develop a strategic plan for addressing the question: how can investments in smart cities technologies improve the lives of low-income, inner-city residents. To address both technological and social science questions the research team includes a broad array of technical and social scientists from five Baltimore-area universities, a team of smart city technology providers, and leaders of local governments, neighborhood associations, and community development corporations. The planning process will involve extensive communication between and among these three groups: meetings of researchers, workshops among technology providers, community engagement events with local residents, and participation in all these events by key project leaders. The effort will produce alternative strategies for smart cities investments in west Baltimore; a network of multidisciplinary researchers prepared to undertake integrated research projects; the design of a shared research and data infrastructure; and build trust between researchers and community stakeholders.