Civic News

Smart city study to focus on West Baltimore

Four universities and a group of community stakeholders are conducting research on expanding tech offerings in a way that won't make disparities worse.

Baltimore beckons.

(Photo by Flickr user urbanfeel, used under a Creative Commons license)

Bringing smart city technology to West Baltimore is the basis of a new study that will be conducted by four local universities and neighborhood groups.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the National Science Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant to a group led by the University of Maryland College Park to conduct research on bringing new technology to Baltimore’s public spaces. It’s designed to involve social scientists to guide recommendations on new tech that “doesn’t exacerbate the digital divide,” Gerrit Jan-Knaap, executive director of UMD’s National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education told the Sun. Specifically, the study will focus on the Mt. Pleasant and Upton areas.
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“In addition to bringing Wi-Fi to residents and businesses, the team will look at how to enhance school technologies, improve health service delivery, ease traffic congestion, elevate public safety initiatives and increase public transportation access,” a press release from the University of Baltimore states.
The city is participating in the study through several departments, and the Maryland Transit Authority is also signed on. Other university participants in the study include the University of Baltimore, the Johns Hopkins–based Center for Government Excellence and Morgan State University. At the community level, the Mt. Royal Community Development Corporation, and Upton Planning Committee are identified as stakeholders.
A report on building a “Smarter Baltimore” was completed during Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s term. It mostly focused on broadband, whereas this appears aimed at preparing for a broader set of technologies.


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