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Turning Baltimore into a smart city

Planning process will involve extensive communication between and among three key groups

Baltimore has been reviewing its smart city progress to date
Baltimore has been reviewing its smart city progress to date

A group of researchers, community members, government workers and members of Baltimore’s business community have met to review the research activities around smart cities which have taken place over the last year and to discuss potential future projects.


The gathering at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s office In Baltimore was co-hosted by the University of Maryland, College Park and the National Centre for Smart Growth (NCSG) with the Federal Reserve, Morgan State University, the University of Baltimore, and Johns Hopkins University.


The city had previously received a research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help support smart city initiatives as it seeks to increase the quality of life for residents, and the purpose of the workshop was to review the process so far, explore future projects, as well as provide a networking opportunity.


According to NCSG, the project, specifically, will develop a strategic plan for addressing the question: how can investments in smart cities technologies improve the lives of low-income, inner-city residents? A report in the Baltimore Sun newspaper said residents believe free wi-fi and public safety are central to turning Baltimore into a smart city.


To address both technological and social science questions the research team includes a broad array of technical and social scientists from five Baltimore-area universities, a team of smart city technology providers, and leaders of local governments, neighbourhood associations, and community development corporations.


The planning process will involve extensive communication between and among these three groups: meetings of researchers; workshops among technology providers; community engagement events with local residents; and participation in all these events by key project leaders.


NCSG said the effort will produce alternative strategies for smart cities investments in west Baltimore; a network of multidisciplinary researchers prepared to undertake integrated research projects; the design of a shared research and data infrastructure; and build trust between researchers and community stakeholders.


Speakers at the event included: Shonte Eldridge, Baltimore City deputy chief of operations; Don Linebaugh, interim dean of the University of Maryland College Park’s School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation; Gerrit Knaap, professor and director of the NCSG at the University of Maryland; and Katherine Klosek, director of applied research at the Centre for Government Excellence (GovEx) at Johns Hopkins University.


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