Carnegie Mellon University

Smart Roads Project

Carnegie Mellon Aids in the Equitable Development of Smart Cities

Developing technologies that increase the efficiency of cities can be challenging but developing them to be equitable is even harder ever harder. Carnegie Mellon has teamed up with Pittsburgh to tackle these problems and effect meaningful change.

In 2017, the City of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon devised a traffic signal system that ran on artificial intelligence instead of relying on pre-programmed signal cycles. With the ever-increasing number of vehicles on the road, a new system for traffic management became necessary. While the system reduced travel time by 25 percent, braking by 30 percent and idling by more than 40 percent, pedestrians did not feel like their needs were being met as the average wait times for pedestrians increased. The researchers quickly responded by modifying the system.

The first generation of smart city projects focused on figuring out how to put sensors in the community, network them together and feed the data they collected back into data centers where the information could be analyzed and intelligence extracted. Part of the problem with early smart city projects was that many were built by companies that were proprietary in design, limiting their flexibility and capability.

A city’s ability to listen to its residents is an example of how the smart city movement has evolved. It tackles an ordinary problem using the latest technology in an innovative way. “That’s not to say technology is taking a back seat to making cities smarter. Far from it. But the human equation has grown in importance,” argues Tod Newcome in his article “Next Chapter for Smart Cities Is Practical, Equitable.”

Part of this development would be the embracing of interdepartmental solutions. Often, a single city agency is unequipped to deal with the vast needs that a technological solution may bring. Or, they are focusing on using technologies that improve the city in a way that benefits the entire community. Ultimately, if smart cities are to evolve and grow, certain changes in behavior, management and organization will be needed.

To view the Tod Newcome’s full article, click here.