Themes of Engagement

At the heart of our partnerships is the question of how technology can benefit communities, and we’ve discovered seven recurring areas where we can collaborate most effectively with city stakeholders. Through projects in these key areas, we are working together toward a future of increased resilience, stability, health, and safety.

Explore the Urban Collaboratory’s Seven Themes

Energy Theme


Reducing energy consumption is a key for any city’s health and sustainability. At the crossroads of energy management and technology are services that Integrate and coordinate energy production, infrastructure, and consumption. Energy services, active users, and enabling technologies make this research possible.

Finance Theme


To address the gap between needs and resources, cities need smart infrastructure finance that advances new businesses, fuels innovation, and supports creative solutions to services. Research can help direct capital toward smart and resilient infrastructure systems.

Health Theme


It’s estimated that two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by the year 2030. How then can technology help urban citizens be healthier? Smart health, for example, can facilitate the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely and independently. Other smart initiatives can increase access to healthy food, clean water, public safety, health services, and much more.

Infrastructure Theme


Growing cities need smart ways to solve the problems of aging infrastructure and create new spaces that increase safety, usability, and more. Smart infrastructure embeds sensors in infrastructure (think walls and roads) and the equipment it interacts with, then connects those sensors to a communication network. This allows real-time data acquisition and analysis to make cities more livable and sustainable.

Mobility Theme


How can citizens get around more easily by making use of the mobility services that are available to them? To answer this question, we connect advanced software with different modes of transit–for example, bus systems and bike-sharing programs–and use data to make these services more accessible, sustainable, and easier to use.

Social Theme


The greatest challenge smart cities face is not just finding ways to use data to address pressing challenges, but also connecting people to the data and services. Smart cities must ensure access to technology while bridging social and economic inequalities.

Water Theme


To protect water is to protect a critical aspect of human health. Smart water systems can collect data from places such as pipes and drains, then use that data to manage the water efficiently—whether it’s helping reduce flooding, or removing pollutants, or recommending greening strategies for an entire watershed. Our research and education initiatives address stormwater, drinking water, wastewater, recreational water, and more.

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Urban Collaboratory Projects

The Urban Collaboratory is working closely with city stakeholders on numerous innovative projects that prioritize access to fundamental human needs.

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