MAPPD: Multi-Array Phased Participatory Deployment

MAPPD: Multi-Array Phased Participatory Deployment

What is MAPPD?

MAPPD is a technical and strategic smart cities project developing a repeatable approach to scaling up a Smart City sensor network. MAPPD is a city-university partnership between the Georgia Institute of Technology and the City of Atlanta and a featured project of both the MetroLab Network and NIST’s Global City Teams Challenge.

MAPPD designs and deploys multiple sensor arrays in smart cities testbeds designated by the City of Atlanta in its SMARTATL strategy.The multiple arrays present a variety of technical challenges related to data collection, storage, and access, information privacy and security, node resilience, and overall system interoperability. Rather than begin with a single system, MAPPD serves as a technical testbed founded on the principle of interoperability first, where technical problems are addressed in relation to other systems rather than in isolation. Beyond working to establish protocols and standards for the overall system, MAPPD begins with the design, development, and phased deployment of the Campus Array Node (CAN) a sensor system developed by Georgia Tech. The first sensors were placed in the North Ave smart city corridor in the Summer of 2016.

In addition to the technical challenges, MAPPD focuses on three additional aspects of Smart City scale-up: (1) building partnerships, (2) fostering engagement and (3) establishing open data and open innovation policy to allow for future technology-led economic development.

In sum, MAPPD provides a model for how the many economic and civic opportunities surrounding smart cities can be realized while simultaneously tackling critical and complex engineering and technical challenges.

MAPPD follows four key principles, all of which are currently being integrated into ongoing development.

Phased Deployment:

In order to foster iteration early and often, the project focuses on the progressive release of technology to scale the deployment over time, adding complexity as well as technical sophistication. This increases opportunities for in-action learning, community engagement and responsiveness, and integration of ongoing technical improvements, while simultaneously reducing the implementation burden on participating organizations.

The initial MAPPD deployment targets 18 intersections along the North Avenue Smart Corridor. The first CAN node was installed at the North and Spring intersection in mid-July, and is being used to develop an API to access the real-time data. The next four nodes are targeted for installation by the end of October.

Interoperability First:

The North Avenue corridor is targeted as a testbed for multiple IoT systems, according to SMARTATL’s strategic plan. As such, a central question is how these systems might work together rather than work in-parallel? To address this concern, MAPPD is structured around the principle of “interoperability first,” meaning that the project is structured to consider requirements beyond any individual project or testbed, and so always focusing on the integration of multiple heterogeneous systems. For MAPPD, interoperability is not a solely technical term that refers to the ways systems communicate and coordinate. Instead, interoperability includes the ways many different types of systems work together to make the Smart City function. As such, MAPPD includes team members focusing on issues ranging from governmental procurement and data use agreements to community-level efforts and best practices, all of which impact the ways the patchwork of systems might integrate. This approach provides meaning and insight for communities and decision-makers by adopting a more comprehensive view of interoperability.

In short, the core problem of Smart City research is interoperability, and MAPPD takes an “interoperability first” approach which privileges concerns about integration, long-term development, sustainability, and resilience. For example, the project team is working to develop ways to securely and remotely update the software on the CAN system. By doing so, the nodes can be reconfigured as new systems and protocols develop without the overhead of updating the systems in person. As a simple consideration, these remote updates will allow centralized control over the CAN system to better integrate CAN into the other systems soon-to-be online.

Public & Participatory:

The Atlanta Smart City team is deeply committed to making the city truly work for its residents. As a part of that commitment, the deployment approach has been designed to integrate community engagement workshops to refine hardware/software, align the deployment team with as many stakeholders as possible, and better understand the needs, concerns, hopes, goals, and ideas offered by the community.

The first workshop is planned for mid-October and will gather the community and stakeholders around the first active CAN system. A collaboration across Georgia Tech’s campus, the workshop will probe how this particular node might be meaningful to the specific needs of the community through facilitated activities. Subsequent workshops are planned for November and December, and focus on the next phases of MAPPD. As a whole, the workshops provide a means to give voice to the community, identify shared needs, and find new avenues for what a Smart City could mean at the neighborhood-, community-, and city-scale.

Also related to this principle is CUI's evolving Civit IoT project, which explores the uses of Internet of Things technologies for public benefit. 

Open Data/Open Innovation:

This deployment process strategically aligns public policy and urban planning with technical developments to give stakeholders and the public at large a chance to better their city through open, but secure, access to the collected data. A central claim of Smart City activities is leveraging the distributed capacity of citizens and organizations by building platforms that accommodate changing needs of urban residents now and in the future. To date, open data, open innovation, and community involvement have been desired outcomes of many projects, but need greater integration into the projects. As a strategic project, MAPPD is using the technical deployment and community workshops to integrate openness into the project from the beginning.

CUI Faculty

Jennifer Clark

Affiliated Faculty

CUI Postdoctoral Fellow

CUI Students

Affiliated Researchers

  • Margaret Loper (GTRI)
  • Lee Lerner (GTRI)


  • Georgia Tech Research Institute
Research Neighborhood: