Carnegie Mellon University

About Metro21: Smart Cities Institute

Our Mission

CMU's Metro21: Smart Cities Institute seeks to research, develop and deploy 21st century solutions to the challenges facing metro areas.

Our History

The roots of Metro21 go back to 2009 and the founding of the Traffic21 Institute at CMU. Pittsburgh businessman and philanthropist Henry Hillman envisioned a revolution in transportation powered by the advancements in information and communications technology. He believed that Carnegie Mellon University had the know-how to lead the way. His formula was straightforward: invest in research and development with the aim of actually deploying in the Pittsburgh region; engage real world partners from the outset. Research, development and deployment through partnership became the mantra for Traffic21. The approach produced concrete results, then and now.

photo of Rick Stafford and Raj Rajkumar

If it worked for transportation, why not for the other systems that make up metropolitan life? Indeed, cities are systems of systems and need to be addressed as such. That insight is what drives the work of the initiative.

Early seed funding by the Henry L. Hillman Foundation supplemented by university internal funds and grants from the Pentair and IBM corporations made possible the launch of the Metro21: Smart Cities Initiative in July 2014, and launched as a campus-wide Institute in March 2018. Generous investments by the Heinz Endowments, Richard King Mellon Foundation and Buhl Foundation carried things forward.

Today, Metro21: Smart Cities Institute continues to seek forward-thinking collaborators to help shape the cities of the future.