Carnegie Mellon University

Message from the Director

Welcome to the website of Metro21: Smart Cities Institute, a campus-wide initiative of Carnegie Mellon University on Smart Cities. The institute is a formal structure formed around several years of experience and expertise at Carnegie Mellon focusing on making our cities and communities smarter and more connected.

Metro21's singular goal is to improve the quality of life in metropolitan regions. We seek to perform research, development and deployment (RD&D) on 21st century solutions to the challenges facing metro areas around the world. We strive to make metropolitan regions operate safely and much more efficiently. We leverage innovations in technology and policymaking, and their joint interplay, to accomplish our objectives. Our solutions target broad-based use by citizens, businesses, decision-makers and long-term planners.

The Problem Space

Every metropolitan region is a complex web forming a system of systems. Every region must manage multiple aspects of urban life including transportation, utilities (including gas, electricity, telecommunications, water and sewer), health care, law enforcement, air quality and noise quality. These different dimensions have historically been operated by an eclectic mixture of public governments, private companies and nonprofit organizations. Furthermore, some of these metropolitan services are paid for by tax revenues, while others are based on a usage model. Metropolitan regions around the world face a host of similar problems such as rising metro populations, congestion, air pollution, noise pollution, light pollution, crime and health issues.

Our Research

We at Metro21 consider a metropolitan region as a genome with a multitude of independent and adaptive constituent units ("cells") but which nevertheless work together as a single, coherent, capable and intelligent organism. Our researchers seek to define and (when possible) manage this genome, as it grows, adapts and evolves.

We believe that metropolitan-scale sensing, analytics, communication and coordination, decision-making, controlled actuation and creative policies can enable significant leaps in metropolitan quality of life.

Our Efforts and Partners

We at Metro21 will bring innovative deployments that transform our metropolitan regions into metros where, among myriad other benefits, traffic flows smoothly, air/noise/light quality are healthy, crime rates are low, residents feel safe, and personalized services are available to citizens. 

We work closely with the City of Pittsburgh, the County of Allegheny, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the federal government and cities around the world. Our vision has been supported strongly by the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, the Heinz Endowments, the Richard King Mellon Foundation and the Buhl Foundation, and has been supplemented by university internal funds and grants from the Pentair and IBM corporations.

We work closely with our sister organization, the MetroLab Network, an organization that we helped launch in 2015. We team up with companies to formulate and solve problems that make sense both from usage and business perspectives. Please stay tuned for a framework in which companies can become our partners formally.

Our Team

The multifaceted challenges faced by modern metros must necessarily be tackled by a multidisciplinary approach. Hence, Metro21 utilizes faculty and researchers who span five different colleges at Carnegie Mellon: the College of Engineering, the Heinz College of Public Policy and Information Systems, the School of Computer Science, the College of Fine Arts and the Tepper School of Business.

Our executive team includes Karen Lightman, executive director of Metro21; Rick Stafford, distinguished fellow of Metro21 (and my long-term co-conspirator); Professor Chris Hendrickson, director of the Traffic21 Institute; and Stan Caldwell, executive director of Traffic21 and the USDOT Mobility21 National University Transportation Center.

Please contact me and/or any of our team members for additional information.

Raj Rajkumar