James.qxp July August 2018 web - Page 17



he Georgia Smart Communities Challenge is a new
Georgia Tech-led initiative that brings together
industry and public agencies to help local governments
implement smart development. It is a competitive program that provides seed funding and access to technical
assistance, expert advice and a network of peers.
A Georgia Tech researcher will advise and conduct
research in support of each group’s goals and the teams will
each receive $50,000 in grants and $25,000 from Georgia
Tech in research support. The selected communities each
raised an additional $50,000. Georgia Power is the lead
sponsor of the program, with additional financial support
from the Atlanta Regional Commission.
The four winning communities are Albany, Chamblee,
Chatham County and Gwinnett County. They developed
and will implement smart design solutions to some of the
biggest challenges facing our state: housing, mobility, and
sea level rise.
Georgia Tech will conduct site visits to the four communities and hold workshops, conference calls and other
activities to support the projects. Creating and implementing smart communities is hard work and it’s difficult.
But we know we’re on the right path when we are purposely empowering local communities themselves with
data and technology.
The program is just one part of the work Georgia Tech
is doing in this area. The Institute has partnered with the
city of Atlanta since 2015 to institutionalize smart cities
research and development into city operations. For us,
Georgia Smart represents a great opportunity to branch
out to other parts of our state.
Georgia Smart supports communities of all sizes, including smaller towns, which may not have been as prominent
in smart development because of a lack of resources and
attention. While each team is led by a local government, the
work will be a collaboration between different government
agencies and nonprofits.
Seventeen communities applied for the program,
showing there is genuine enthusiasm statewide for smart
technology and development. We had interest expressed
by government representatives from areas that contain
about two-thirds of Georgia’s population.
The selected communities show cities of all sizes can
work on smart development and that these projects are
strongest when done through collaboration. Other cities
will not be excluded from the broad Georgia Smart community as we remain committed to supporting smart development across the state and beyond. The strategies developed by the selected communities will serve as models that
could be implemented elsewhere across Georgia.
Albany Housing Data Initiative. Led by the city of
Albany the project will evaluate an automated housing
registry. The system will allow for improved neighborhood
infrastructure and revitalization and encourage a safe and
sustainable housing inventory for the city. (Assigned
Georgia Tech researcher: Omar Isaac Asensio, assistant
professor in the School of Public Policy.)
Shared Autonomous Vehicle Study. Led by the city of
Chamblee the project will study improvements in mobility
through the use of autonomous vehicles that travel from
MARTA stations into the community. This will reduce road
congestion and increase pedestrian and traveler safety.
(Assigned Georgia Tech researcher: Ellen Dunham-Jones,
professor in the School of Architecture.)
Smart Sea Level Tools for Emergency Planning and
Response. Led by Chatham County, this project will
develop and test a pilot sensor network for measuring sea
level flood risk during natural disasters and storms. The
network will improve flood warnings, emergency response
action plans and predictions for future flood events.
(Assigned Georgia Tech researcher: Kim Cobb, Georgia
Power Chair and professor in the School of Earth and
Atmospheric Sciences.)
Connected Vehicle Technology Master Plan. Led by
Gwinnett County, this project will evaluate traffic management technologies for improved vehicle mobility throughout the region. The technology will improve safety and connectivity. (Assigned Georgia Tech researcher: Angshuman
Guin, senior research engineer in the School of Civil and
Environmental Engineering.)
Additional Georgia Smart partners include: Association
County Commissioners of Georgia, Georgia Centers for
Innovation, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Georgia
Department of Community Affairs, Georgia Municipal
Association, Global City Challenges, Metro Atlanta
Chamber and the Technology Association of Georgia.
Debra Lam is the Managing Director of Smart Cities and Inclusive
Innovation for Georgia Tech, a newly-created role to drive smart cities
and urban innovation work across the university and beyond.
J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 1 8
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