Smart and Sustainable Cities


The Center for Urban Innovation supports and highlights smart, sustainable solutions to urban challenges and helps to push the edge of Smart City innovation. 

Smart Cities capture the attention of popular audiences and specialists alike. The Smart City concept promises access and opportunity while building civic engagement and expanding public participation. The idea promises simultaneously to generate new revenue via new markets and services, to save money through new efficiencies and systems optimization, and to increase cities' resilience in the face of disasters and gradual pressures alike, increasing holistic sustainability. Its advocates argue that smart cities are more efficient, more sustainable, more profitable, and more inclusive.  

For example, CUI faculty look towards urban agriculture as a means to mitigate urban heat islands and minimize the negative health effects of urban food deserts---simultaneously confronting the dual challenges posed by climate change and economic inequality. Similarly, CUI faculty look at urban transit through the lens of “hard infrastructure” like streets and light rail, as well as “soft infrastructure” like devices and apps that connect citizens to real-time information about bikes, parkways, and pedestrian-friendly routes. Meanwhile, the Center support research on Smart City topics including sensor deployment testbed projects, civic IoT projects, and a wide variety of efforts to research and design the emerging Smart City.

By incorporating the work of architects, urban planners, policy analysts, historians, sociologists, philosophers, computer scientists, economists, and engineers, the Center for Urban Innovation takes an un-siloed approach to the promise of new technologies to improve and manage the urban condition.  This interdisciplinarity allows for a smart research approach to building and maintaining smart, sustainable cities.


Resilient Urban Policies in Practice

urban pol practice

Atlanta is one of 10 cities selected to participate in the City Energy Project, a national initiative to create more efficient and resilient cities. A group of Georgia Tech faculty and graduate students are using this unique opportunity to evaluate policy development, implementation, data collection, and assessment of impacts of specific urban sustainability policies using several modeling frameworks including the ForeSEE model.

Learn more about the City Energy Project

Smart Cities in 2017's First "Research Horizons" Magazine

Local Data Design Lab

local data lab

The Local Data Design Lab is building new capacities for data literacy with a seed-grant awarded by CUI.

Learn more about the Design Lab

Arguments Against Cell Phone Driver Distraction

cell driver

As handheld and hands-free calls and texting continue to be a worrying source of danger on the roads, questions remain about best to address these dangers through policy, design, and public outreach.  Robert Rosenberger has developed a novel philosophical account of the driving impairment of cellular phone technologies.

Learn more about driver distraction

Designs for Foraging

design forage

Foraging is the activity of collecting fruits and vegetables from sites other than farms or orchards, such as collecting apples from trees in parks or mustard greens from abandoned lots. The Designs for Foraging project aims is to use qualitative and interpretive methods to better understand foraging as a novel mode of civic service provisioning and to develop and assess a variety of speculative systems that use Internet of Things technologies.

Learn more about designing for foraging

Making Legacy Data Available and Accessible for the Smart City

legacy data

As a limited inquiry into these challenges and opportunities for legacy data, we propose exploring the process of digitizing and making accessible the budget and fiscal reporting data currently available from the City of Atlanta.

Learn more about legacy data

MetroLab Network


MetroLab's mission is to bring together university researchers with city decision makers to research, develop, and deploy “RD&D” technology and analytically-based solutions, and provide the technical assistance critical to addressing the problems facing the services, systems, and infrastructure on which our citizens, cities, and regional economies depend.

Learn more about the MetroLab Network

Open Data & Open Innovation Policy

open innovation

In light of the potential benefits of understanding Open Data and Open Innovation, a major question is how each becomes institutionalized within the Smart City. In conjunction with the MAPPD project, research is being conduct to collect, compare, and analyze Open Data and Open Innovation policies, practices, and protocols across the United States.

Learn more about Open Data & Innovation

PARSE: Participatory Approaches to Researching Sensing Environments

parse ATL

The goal of this NSF sponsored research is to advance an empirical and systematic understanding of the design and use of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies for enabling, organizing, and monitoring collective action, particularly in the context of urban communities. Drawing from our expertise in design and social science research, we approach the issues and opportunities of Civic IoT through ethnographic methods together with prototyping, implementation, deployment, and assessment of IoT systems across multiple sites.

Learn more about PARSE

Public Design Workshop

public design

The Public Design Workshop is a research studio in the Digital Media program in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology. It’s a pedagogical structure created to explore new ways to teach, learn, and do social design within the university.

Learn more about the Workshop

Real-Time Transit Control - One Bus Away

one bus

OneBusAway makes riding public transit easier by providing good information in usable formats and conduct research to evaluate the impacts. The provision of real-time passenger information has benefited substantially over the past two decades from the increased availability of automated vehicle location data on transit fleets, ubiquitous mobile devices in passengers’ pockets, the third-party developer and open data culture, and substantial data standardization efforts.

Learn more about One Bus Away

Working in Cities: Coworking Spaces, the Maker Movement, and the Rise of Flexible Urban Workspaces


The rise of co-working spaces, maker spaces, and other forms of new workspaces facilitates both high-tech service work and small-scale production. These spaces are often located within urban regeneration areas and are branded as creative and collaborative spaces, aimed at enticing the creative class back to the city and to a new norm of flexible work. Our research is aimed at understanding the policy implications of these spaces for cities and the implications of new forms of work for dynamic regional economies.

Learn more about Working in Cities