Helping smart cities use big data, connected technology for good

New ASU center will help cities and regions use data analytics and emerging technologies to advance their economic, social, cultural and overall health


April 3, 2018

How should urban planners and policy-makers manage autonomous vehicles? How can innovators and entrepreneurs develop new technologies that respond to the needs of communities and produce better health outcomes? How can private and public data protect and empower vulnerable populations?

These are some of the questions Arizona State University's new Center for Smart Cities and Regions will address, as it works to improve the ability of communities to leverage the Internet of Things and other new technologies to advance their economic, social, cultural and overall health. Center Co-Directors pose with Executive Director of iDP Diana Bowman and Thad Miller, co-directors of the Center for Smart Cities and Regions, with Dominic Papa, executive director and co-founder of the Institute of Digital Progress. Photo by Marissa Huth/School for the Future of Innovation in Society

Working closely with policy-makers, city planners, entrepreneurs, industry leaders and the public, the center will enhance the capacity of cities and regions to use data analytics and emerging technologies.

"We increasingly have the tools and the technologies to address local, regional and global problems,” said Diana Bowman, co-director of the center and associate professor with the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. “However, unless these technologies are developed and deployed in a way that is responsive and responsible, their potential benefits are unlikely to be realized.”

One of the center's first partnerships will be with the Institute of Digital Progress and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council who, on March 28, announced the Greater Phoenix Smart Region initiative at the Smart Cities Connect conference in Kansas City. On stage, Dominic Papa, executive director of the Institute of Digital Progress, and Chris Camacho, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, spoke of the center and the ways in which the entities will be able to work together.

“By partnering with the Center for Smart Cities and Regions at Arizona State University, the regional effort will be able to continually refine smart technology solutions. This partnership will enable the region to harness the knowledge and capacity of the most innovative university in the nation," Papa said.

Additional current projects include:

ASU as Smart Living Lab  The Center for Smart Cities and Regions will work with the ASU University Technology Office to build a “smart campus” that makes the ASU community experience better. For example, the center is collaborating with the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering in examining the use of Amazon Echo devices in use by engineering students residing in Tooker House.

Governance of Autonomous Vehicles — The center is working is working with cities, including Tempe, to manage the risks and benefits of self-driving cars.

Educational Programs — The center will develop of educational programs around smart technology with the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, including the Smart City Academy, graduate certificates and concentrations.

Opening Pathways for Discovery, Research, and Innovation in Health — A collaboration between patients and traditional researchers to explore the processes around discovery, research, and innovation in health and healthcare where patients have created and shared a closed-loop artificial pancreas. The project, led by a patient as principal investigator, is supported with grant funding by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“Rapidly emerging technologies, like autonomous vehicles, present both risks and opportunities to cities,” said center co-director Thad Miller, assistant professor with the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the Polytechnic School at ASU. “[The center] works with city policy-makers and planners — as well as industry and the public — to help them leverage technology to meet their goals and community needs.”

The center will take a multi-disciplinary approach to collaborative research by bridging the gap between science and technology research and urban governance.

To learn more and become involved with the projects and initiatives, visit the Center for Smart Cities and Regions

Senior Manager, Communications and Marketing Strategy, School for the Future of Innovation in Society

480-727-6193

 
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Banners to bags: ASU partners with local group to change the way we recycle

Display your Sun Devil spirit with sustainable ASU Banner Bags.
April 3, 2018

Now on sale at the ASU bookstore, Banner Bags provide an eco-friendly way to show Sun Devil spirit

Step into the bookstore on Arizona State University's Tempe campus and you'll see the familiar vibrant and promotional images that typically don ASU's vinyl event banners.

There will be one noticeable difference, however — those images have been turned into Banner Bags, special tote bags that are one of the latest and most eco-friendly accessories a Sun Devil can find.

"Our hope is that students will find these bags both cool and useful," said Travis Buckner, a graphic design specialist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, who spearheaded the Banner Bags initiative at ASU. "They are just another example of why ASU is No. 1 in innovation."

The university first started upcycling its banners into bags in 2010, but Buckner revived and re-worked the program a little over a year ago. 

The resurrection included keeping the process of making the bags close to home, instead of the past protocol that shipped them to Texas and back. Now they are being made right in the heart of Tempe at a fashion incubator called FABRIC.

"I did a little research and discovered the perfect solution was about 100 yards from my office," Buckner said. "FABRIC stands for Fashion and Business Resource Innovation Center and they have a program there which helps teach young adults with disabilities how to sew. We instantly thought this was the perfect job for that program."

The resurrected Banner Bags hit Sun Devil Campus Stores back in January, but sold out within a day. Now, more bags have been made and are on-sale again at the Orange StreetThe Sun Devil Campus Store is located at 525 E. Orange St., Tempe, 85281. location.

The Banner Bags have ignited a larger conversation around circular resources, a process that the university hopes will change people's purchasing and disposal practices. By incorporating the circular resource process into ASU's Zero Waste goal, the school can start to measure the health of material resources by assessing their entire lifecycle.

"The bags are a perfect example of extending the life of discarded materials and generating value in the community," said Alana Levine, an associate director of facilities management at ASU. "We are no longer looking solely to recycling and waste reduction to decrease the impact of waste produced at ASU. Instead, we are challenging the community to create positive outcomes by participating in these reuse and upcycling programs."

Levine, who also serves as the president of the Arizona Recycling Coalition, notes that the bags are a great representation of how the Tempe community can come together to make a difference in the environment and economy.

"They highlight how every community member can have both an intrinsic value and a role to play in a circular, sustainable economy," she said. "Of course, they also look great."

In total, ASU has a current goal of achieving 90 percent diversion (taking a product that can't be recycled and turning it into something useful) by the 2025 fiscal year.

By the January launch event, the Centers for Habilitation had made over 100 bags out of ASU’s vinyl banners, keeping over 40 pounds of vinyl out of the landfill.

Top photo: Shoppers purchase Banner Bags at the Tempe campus Sun Devil Campus Store on Tuesday, Jan. 23. The bags, made of recycled ASU banners are designed to be sturdy enough to carry books and laptops. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now