City of Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe and the University of Florida have joined MetroLab Network, a network of 37 regional city-university partnerships focused on bringing data, analytics, and innovation to local government.
Members of the network research, develop, and deploy technologies and policy approaches to address challenges facing cities and communities across the country. MetroLab Network was launched by 21 founding city-university pairings in September 2015 as part of the White House’s Smart Cities Initiative.
According to Mayor Lauren Poe, “Being recognized as a member of this national network is a testament to the strength of our partnership with UF. As we strive to realize our mutual goal of becoming a New American City, we will create a living laboratory to test innovation and apply research for the betterment of the Gainesville community.”
MetroLab Network’s city-university partnerships are relationships in which the university serves as a research and development arm, and the city serves as a test-bed for technologies and data-driven approaches. Faculty members and students gain access to real-world laboratories to develop and test tools and programs that utilize information technology, data analytics, sensing, and more. Cities benefit from their technical expertise, leading to solutions that reduce the cost of infrastructure and services, with cities becoming more sustainable and citizens’ quality of life improved.
“Creating partnerships between the University of Florida and the City of Gainesville is key to UF’s future success and a central theme to the university’s Strategic Development Plan,” said UF Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Charlie Lane.
By becoming members of MetroLab Network, the City of Gainesville and the University of Florida have signed a memorandum of understanding and agreed to undertake at least three research, development, and deployment projects. Gainesville and UF’s projects include: an autonomous shuttle program routed between the University of Florida and downtown Gainesville, a Community Resource Paramedic program that utilizes patient-centered outreach to better connect individuals to the local healthcare system, and a smart street lighting project which will equip street lights both on and off campus with sensor technology.