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Memphis in smart city initiative

This collaboration between city and university is part of the larger nation-level MetroLab network programme


The Memphis skyline
The Memphis skyline

The University of Memphis, FedEx Institute of Technology and the City of Memphis are partnering on a smart city Initiative, as part of a larger national-level MetroLab Network programme.


This programme seeks to address the needs of Memphis citizens by applying emerging technologies and innovations that arise from research work at the University of Memphis (UofM).


A key focus is on research, development and deployment (RD&D) projects that offer technological and analytically-based solutions to challenges facing urban areas including inequality in income, health, mobility, security and opportunity; aging infrastructure; and environmental sustainability and resiliency.


City-university research and innovation projects help position the University as the city’s R&D partner and the city as a test-bed for UofM research.


Projects are designed to present an opportunity to scale effective solutions, accelerate best practices and advance the understanding of urban science.


The Smart Cities kick-off for the research cluster and partnership takes place on Feb. 2 at the FedEx Institute of Technology.


The kickoff celebration will feature Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland as well as University of Memphis President M. David Rudd. It will be followed by Smart Cities Lightning Talks given by the cluster fellows who were awarded funding for their research projects.


During these talks, the fellows will highlight their research focus and goals. The city of Memphis, under the leadership of Strickland, identified four key areas of concentration including crime, litter, blight and efficient government. Research proposals were sought from research faculty and awards were given for the following:

  • Uncovering latent community issues through social media;
  • A planning support system for comprehensive planning and zoning: a geospatial simulation model of land use, land cover change for the Memphis metropolitan region;
  • A new chapter for recycling: using geographic information systems (GIS) and mixed-methods approach to improve the market development and transportation of recycled materials;
  • Detecting unusual objects, actions and events;
  • Using new technologies to survey Memphis residents: identifying and responding to local concerns;
  • Predicting localised, fine-grained crime types using Twitter;
  • Integrated healthy homes assessment and intervention for children in Memphis;
  • Modeling adoption of technological Innovations and infrastructure impacts in a smart city;
  • Linking home energy insecurity to the built environment and population health in Memphis.


MetroLab Network is a group comprising up of 38 cities, four counties, and 51 universities organised in more than 35 regional city-university partnerships.


These partnerships focus on bringing data, analytics and innovation to city government. The mission is to pair university researchers with city policymakers to undertake research, development and deployment projects that will improve infrastructure, public services, and environmental sustainability. The Network was launched as part of the White House’s Smart Cities Initiative in September 2015.


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