Vermont Business Magazine Mayor Miro Weinberger and University of Vermont Vice President for Research Richard Galbraith have joined the MetroLab Network, a network of 35 city-university partnerships focused on bringing data, analytics, and innovation to local government. Members of the network research, develop, and deploy technologies and policy approaches to address challenges facing the nation’s urban areas. MetroLab Network was launched by 21 founding city-university pairings in September 2015 at the White House as part of the Obama Administration’s Smart Cities Initiative.
“When the City and the University collaborate effectively, the whole community benefits,” said Mayor Weinberger. “I am excited about the potential of focusing the expertise and capacity of our University – and other academic institutions in the Network – on some of our most complex municipal challenges. I appreciate UVM joining us in this effort and MetroLab for their confidence in the partnership.”
“Over the years, UVM faculty have worked productively with the City of Burlington across a wide range of fronts,” said Vice President for Research Galbraith. “The MetroLab partnership will allow us to strengthen and grow these valuable interconnections. The partnership offers great benefit for our faculty; Burlington provides a diverse real world environment in which to test and strengthen their research ideas. Our hope and expectation is that Burlington will also benefit from the talent and expertise our faculty bring to the challenges facing the city. We’re excited at the prospect of joining the MetroLab Network and look forward to launching our first joint project with the City of Burlington.”
MetroLab Network’s city-university partnerships are relationships in which the university serves as a research and development arm, and the city serves as a test-bed for technologies and policies. Faculty members and students gain access to real-world laboratories to develop and test tools and programs that utilize information technology, data analytics, sensing, and more. Cities benefit from their technical expertise, leading to solutions that reduce the cost of infrastructure and services, make cities more sustainable and resilient, and improve citizens’ quality of life. MetroLab Network members are working on more than 100 “research, development, and deployment” projects with broad impact on areas such as improving transportation and water systems, reducing the energy footprint in cities, advancing health and public safety goals, and many more.
MetroLab Network connects these city-university partnerships via a national, collaborative platform that will facilitate the sharing of information and the scaling of technology and solutions across the country.
By becoming members of MetroLab Network, the City of Burlington and UVM have signed a memorandum of understanding and agreed to undertake at least three research, development, and deployment projects. Burlington and UVM’s first project will involve a partnership with UVM’s Spatial Analysis Laboratory and multiple City Departments to develop a city-wide strategy for the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. Shared goals will be to develop a comprehensive plan to use GIS to improve operational processes and better inform decision-making within the City, as well as to expand sharing of information and thinking across City Departments, the University, and other partners across the region.
From May 9 – 11, 2016, representatives from Burlington and UVM will be participating in MetroLab Network’s Spring Summit, hosted by the City of San Diego and the University of California, San Diego with support from Clean Tech San Diego.
“We are thrilled to welcome Burlington and the University of Vermont to our network,” said Ben Levine, Interim Director of MetroLab Network. “Their focus on the use of data and technology to enhance the delivery of services, better manage infrastructure, and encourage downtown vibrancy will help drive progress in the cities and regions that are addressing similar issues across the country. Furthermore, their collaboration with our extensive national network of cities and universities will accelerate progress in Burlington on many of its priorities.”
MetroLab Network is supported by a $1 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as a research enterprise that uses data and information technologies to better understand how cities work and to improve the urban condition. Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the fiduciary of MetroLab Network during its incubation period.