Carnegie Mellon University

NSF Workshop

Enabling and Sustaining Connected Communities Rooted in Solving Societal Challenges

Less than ten years ago, the promise of smart cities seemed ripe with opportunities to improve quality of life through technologies like cameras and Internet of Things (IoT) devices with a layer of artificial intelligence (AI) behind them to streamline and optimize operations. Since that time, the shine has worn off and the framing of these issues has also shifted from smart cities to connected communities, as the integration of intelligent technologies is not limited to just cities, but can be used in rural, tribal and remote areas as well. Connected communities technology projects often do not go past the pilot stage; are application and context specific; are not implemented at scale; do not explicitly integrate community input during design, planning or operation; and largely consist of isolated platforms or systems of operation without integration.

To better understand and address these issues, the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Carnegie Mellon University’s Metro21: Smart Cities Institute (Metro21) to host a workshop: Enabling and Sustaining Connected Communities Rooted in Solving Societal Challenges. The in-person workshop and pre-workshop virtual listening sessions were designed to elicit feedback and suggestions from experts in academia, government, nonprofits, civic organizations, and industry to identify solutions to the significant technical, policy, and socioeconomic challenges to integration and scaling of connected communities technologies. We heard from experts in the following domains: mobility/transportation, energy, climate resilience, ecosystem services and multiple applications. The resultant solutions and suggestions are summarized in the following report. Findings are based on discussions from the two-day workshop, five pre-workshop listening sessions, and three surveys.

This project will also be discussed at the MetroLab Network Annual Summit in Portland, OR on June 27, 2023 as part of a roundtable discussion.

Project Partners:

National Science Foundation


Project Team:

Karen Lightman, Executive Director, Metro21

Burcu Akinci, Department Head, Civil & Environmental Engineering

Mario Berges, Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering

Katherine Flanigan, Assistant Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering