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Researchers will integrate real-time, hyperlocal technologies into streetscapes to build safe, equitable and secure communities.
The National Science Foundation is investing $26 million to establish an engineering center that will leverage a variety of technologies to improve the quality of urban environments and advance smart city technology.
The Engineering Research Center for Smart Streetscapes (CS3) project will be led by Columbia University and includes partners Florida Atlantic University, Rutgers University, University of Central Florida and Lehman College as well as industry partners, community organizations, municipalities and K-12 schools. Together the partners will “forge livable, safe and inclusive communities through real-time, hyperlocal technologies for streets and their surroundings,” the NSF said in the award announcement.
“CS3’s work has the potential to redefine America’s streetscapes by applying a digital layer over physical urban infrastructure, ensuring that America’s cities meet the needs of local communities and that the technologies being adopted take into account critical questions regarding safety, equity, privacy, and security,” according to the award abstract.
The researchers propose to “advance livable, safe, and inclusive communities through real-time, hyper-local streetscape applications built on advancements in edge-cloud technology, wireless-optical engineering, visual analytics, computer security, and social science.” They will explore themes of road safety and traffic efficiency, public safety, assistive technologies for people with disabilities, the future of outdoor work and hyper-local sensing and modeling.
Specific research will focus on:
- Wi-Edge - Integrating wireless-optical networking, edge-cloud computing and software-defined radios and networking within smart cities.
- Situational awareness - Observing, modeling and predicting human behavior over variable time frames at the streetscape level.
- Security, privacy and fairness - Developing streetscape applications that guarantee privacy, transparency and fairness for smart city residents.
- Public interest technology - Studying the impact CS3 services and policies have on the social landscape and regional economic development.
- Streetscape applications - Optimizing community-specific benefits by analyzing how certain populations respond to CS3 applications.
The researchers will pilot their work in three cities – New York City, West Palm Beach, Florida, and New Brunswick, New Jersey – leveraging prior federal and municipal investments in wireless networking, edge cloud computing, connected vehicle infrastructure and state-of-the-art streetscape sensing, Columbia officials said in their announcement. “Beyond 5G” advanced wireless technologies will be trialed at NSF’s COSMOS testbed in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, pedestrian mobility in Florida and open road transportation in New Jersey.
“Through a multitude of strong public and private partnerships, we now have the opportunity to realize a vision for the future of smart streetscapes and the true smart city,” Columbia Engineering Dean Shih-Fu Chang said. "CS3 … will advance fundamental knowledge in key areas in civil and urban systems engineering – from visual analytics and sensor fusion to computer privacy and security – mobilizing the emerging discipline of smart cities.”
The award to Columbia University and its partners is one of four Engineering Research Centers announced by NSF.
The $104 million investment will also support: the Research Center for Advancing Sustainable and Distributed Fertilizer Production, the Research Center for Hybrid Autonomous Manufacturing Moving from Evolution to Revolution and the Research Center for Precision Microbiome Engineering.