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virtual Seminar/Symposium

In this seminar, an overview of urban measurement, the evolution of 'smart city' projects, and the SAGE Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure project, also funded by the National Science Foundation will be discussed.

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 Seminar Series on Resilience and Sustainability of Urban Transportation Infrastructure.



We know from experience that using a “smart” phone or wearing a “smart” watch does not make a person smart. For the same reasons, the use of technology in any city is not sufficient to make it smart. For the past decade, ‘smart city’ projects have emphasized measurement, data analytics, and modeling—all of which are critical to new ways to optimize cities and more importantly, new applications to make cities “better” for their inhabitants. Smart city applications will be most likely to make a city “better” if the city’s residents are well-represented in the selection of those applications. In Chicago, what began as an ambitious urban measurement initiative (The Array of Things, or “AoT”) almost immediately evolved to emphasize new types of measurements that typically require human observers. Why? Because scientists, policymakers, and residents alike were asking for data that cannot be easily measured with electronic sensors. For instance, going beyond counting vehicles to understanding their flows, the mix of vehicle types, or factors influencing safety. This requires not only cameras but also sophisticated artificial intelligence to analyze images and video. By supporting such platforms, we can begin to explore how intelligent sensors (and other devices) might improve our understanding of cities across a range of dimensions, from social sciences to traffic safety to environmental sciences. At the same time, introduction of these technologies also requires building and maintaining trust with residents. Catlett will discuss some lessons learned working with residents and organizations in the City of Chicago, and the expanded vision of the team’s current initiatives, including the SAGE Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure project, also funded by the National Science Foundation.

Charlie Catlett is a Senior Research Scientist at the Discovery Partners Institute of the University of Illinois system. From 2000-2020 he was a Senior Computer Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory and today holds visiting computer scientist positions at Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago’s Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation. He leads the “Array of Things,” now part of an expanded project, “SAGE: A Software-Defined Sensor Network,” embedding AI in environmental and emergency response settings. From 1985-2000 Charlie helped to establish the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), serving as Chief Technology Officer, and NSFNET (an early network that evolved into the Internet). He was one of GovTech magazine’s “25 Doers, Dreamers & Drivers” of 2016 and in 2019 as the Argonne Board of Governors Distinguished Performer. Charlie is a Computer Engineering graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


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