By Lacey Keefer, Staff Writer—

Chattanooga was named one of the top 50 “Smart Cities” in the nation this January of 2019, and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Center for Urban Informatics and Progress helped make it happen. 

CUIP is a center for research and innovation that focuses on energy, mobility, healthcare, public safety, water and waste, according to the CUIP website. 

Mina Sartipi, a UC Foundation professor of Computer Science and Engineering and director of CUIP, shares her goals behind CUIP.

“We want to make the urban environment liveable, accessible and healthy for all,” Sartipi said.   

While efforts in urban development were already happening through a campus wide initiative previously, the center was officially established fall of 2018. The center then began focusing on the Testbed located on Martin Luther King Boulevard. According to Sartipi, the Testbed uses cameras and radar to measure automobile, bus, bike and pedestrian traffic. This is an effort to measure noise and air pollution, as well as traffic incidents, in order to investigate ways to mitigate those problems. 

The efforts of CUIP, Sartipi emphasized, are entirely collaborative. The center works with all colleges across campus and the city of Chattanooga through the Chattanooga Smart Community Collaborative. This collaboration is a research partnership among the city of Chattanooga, UTC, EPB, Erlanger system, Co.Lab and Enterprise Center.  

CUIP collaborates with community members through conducting focus groups and interviews to hear their thoughts. Nationally, CUIP and the larger collaboration works with groups like the National Science Foundation and US Ignite.

“That’s the beauty of this, that we can bring all of these people together and work collectively. I think that’s where it makes it more meaningful and more effective,” Sartipi said. 

The Testbed along MLK is just one of many projects that covers a wide variety of issues like water quality and healthcare. One such project is the creation of a device where physicians can remotely monitor the recovery of patients. It was this collaborative effort that is focused on action, actual application of solutions and input from a variety of experts that earned the city and CUIP US Ignite’s “Horizon” award, as a part of their recognition of the top 50 Smart Cities. The Horizon award recognizes “foundational and inspiring groundwork for future smart cities projects,” according to the US Ignite website. 

This was a great honor for Sartipi and CUIP.

“That we were acknowledged for the work that we are doing together and accomplishments that we have made through this collaboration, that’s a huge deal for us and for UTC,” Sartipi said. “Because now all these research areas that are related to urban challenges and smart cities are gone through CUIP. That’s what we wanted the university to work together.” 

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