Led and coordinated by Boston University’s Center for Information and Systems Engineering (CISE)
– by Christina Polyzos
Boston University Professor and Head of the Division of Systems Engineering Christos Cassandras was invited by the National Science Foundation to organize and chair a Workshop on Smart Cities, a subject of great national interest and focal point of many recent federal and local government activities.
Participation in the workshop was by invitation only and the event was coordinated by the BU Center for Information and Systems Engineering (CISE). Professor Ioannis Paschalidis, Director of CISE, was a member of the organizing committee. Among the 31 invited participants, from the US and abroad, were Boston University Professors Michael Caramanis and Azer Bestavros.
The Workshop brought together academics, high-level government officials, industry professionals, and NSF representatives who gathered in Arlington, VA on December 3 & 4, 2015, to discuss current Smart City programs, present current and emerging research, share ideas, and help shape an agenda for Smart City research and related initiatives.
NSF Program Managers and Dan Correa, Senior Advisor for Innovation Policy at the White House, opened the workshop with compelling talks about the importance of engineering Smart and Connected Communities across the US and their role in attaining sustainable growth and improving quality of life. They also emphasized the need for educating citizens and stakeholders about technologies and decision-making policies enabling a state-of-the-art Smart City.
“The premise of the Workshop on Smart Cities was to bring together academic researchers from a diversity of disciplines, experts from industrial organizations, and decision makers in local government,” said Cassandras, Chair of the Workshop. “For information and systems engineering researchers, in particular, a Smart City is a living laboratory that currently directly impacts daily life and that of the next generation of urban dwellers.”
This direct impact of Smart Cities drove the dialogue among participants and established “an interactive discussion about cities readiness and where potential gaps are and how those can be addressed,” said Amy Aussieker, Executive Director of Envision Charlotte and a workshop participant.
Issues regarding the technological capabilities of cities, citizen engagement, government policy, and financial support of initiatives were explored. These topics were especially analyzed in breakout sessions where
health/social factors, sustainability, and transportation issues served as foci for invited presentations and discussion.
“It was a fascinating workshop where many stimulating discussions between academic researchers, industry, city government officials, and NSF took place. It was particularly rewarding to see city governments eager to move full speed ahead in making cities smarter and understanding the critical role partnerships with academia can play,” said Ioannis Paschalidis, Member of the Organizing Committee.
The organizing committee will compile a report that will help NSF to define a research agenda for Smart Cities and Urban Science as well as a foundational framework for key areas such as energy, water, transportation, healthcare, emergency response,
social engagement, and data management.