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Chattanooga research collaborative named in Top 50 smart city projects, recognizing ethical data use

Pictured are two professors having a conversation in a computer lab

Mary Helen Montgomery

As many urban areas adopt “smart city” initiatives, Chattanooga is doing so with a slightly different approach — and now, the city is being recognized for its ethical practices. The Smart 50 Awards, created by US Ignite, Smart Cities Connect, and Smart Cities Connect Foundation, listed Chattanooga’s data analytics practices as a winner in the Digital Transformation category, which recognizes projects that deal with data, AI, sensors, IoT, cybersecurity, privacy, and blockchain.

“Chattanooga is pioneering smart solutions that can improve people’s lives, and we are proud that we’re doing that in a way that keeps citizens’ interests front and center,” said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.

The Chattanooga Smart Community Collaborative was given the award for protecting citizens’ privacy during data collection and analysis. The collaborative is a research partnership between The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the City of Chattanooga, Erlanger Health System, EPB, Hamilton County, Co.Lab, and The Enterprise Center.

Using data to improve urban life, with UTC’s Center for Urban Informatics and Progress from The Enterprise Center on Vimeo.

UTC’s Center for Urban Informatics and Progress (CUIP) has led research efforts in Chattanooga aimed to improve citizens’ lives through advancement in energy, mobility, healthcare, and other areas. CUIP operates a series of sensors along MLK Blvd, including video cameras, that collect data about traffic, bicycle, and pedestrian behavior. Working with UTC’s social sciences department, CUIP created strict guidelines and data governance policies to ensure all data is anonymized and that all video footage is turned to meta-data and immediately deleted. This research could help with traffic congestion, pedestrian safety, how the city allocates resources, and other outcomes that improve life.

“This award recognizes CUIP’s commitment to transparency and ethical practices. All of us that work on this testbed and the related projects live in this community and respect our community’s privacy,” says Dr. Mina Sartipi, the director of CUIP.

The Smart 50 Award will be presented at the Smart Cities Connect Conference in Denver this April. Read more about Chattanooga’s ethical data practices.