Florida State University

College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

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Research Team Receives Grant to Study Urban Infrastructure Systems

A multi-disciplinary team of researchers, including faculty and graduate students from the Florida State University College of Social Sciences and Public Policy, has been awarded a $2.5 million grant for the project “Urban Infrastructure Systems Framework to Advance Access and Wellbeing in Communities.”

The project falls under the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Smart & Connected Communities (S&CC) initiative. The initiative aims to advance understanding of the functioning of cities and communities to improve quality of life through innovations in computing, engineering, information and physical sciences, social science and citizen science and education.

Co-Principal Investigator Richard Feiock of the Askew School of Public Administration will lead a team of FSU researchers that includes College of Social Sciences and Public Policy Dean Timothy Chapin, as well as graduate students and a post-doctoral researcher from the Askew School. The FSU team will investigate the planning futures in Tallahassee/Leon County with a $310,000 award to the university.

The project will apply a smart urban infrastructure systems framework to advance access and wellbeing in cities. With transformative new infrastructures coming on the horizon—such as autonomous vehicles, smart and distributed energy systems, novel green infrastructure and urban farms—the physical fabric of our future cities will be very different from what exists today.

“This research will provide new insights on how the future spatial deployment of these new infrastructures will shape access, wellbeing, health and environmental sustainability in city neighborhoods,” Feiock said.

In addition to the Florida State team, the research will be conducted by an interdisciplinary team from the University of Washington and Purdue University and led by Principal Investigators Shashi Shekhar and Anu Ramaswami of the University of Minnesota.

The project will be conducted in partnership with the cities of Saint Paul, Minneapolis, and Tallahassee/Leon County.

The project is an outgrowth of an ongoing NSF Sustainability Research Network. In 2015, Florida State University was awarded $500,000 of a $12 million NSF grant to investigate energy and transportation collaboration to promote sustainability within urban regions. Feiock oversees that sub-award, which also supports research on the innovative energy efficiency programs that have been implemented by the city of Tallahassee and its utility services.

In August of this year, the S&CC directorate approved a grant for “Bridging the Digital Divide for the Well-Being of Aging Populations in Smart and Connected Communities.” That project is a collaborative effort between the State University of New York, the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and the University of Michigan.

Professor of Sociology Anne Barrett, director of the Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy, and Professor of Geography Mark Horner are part of the project team developing a collaborative, multidisciplinary research platform to study the relationship between S&CC and the built environment (e.g., varying urban densities). The research is centered on the aging population with the broader goal of including all segments of the society.