Mayor Andy Berke, along with UTC’s Mina Sartipi and Chancellor Steven Angle, presented a unique smart city research tool on Thursday afternoon that has been installed along ML King Boulevard in Chattanooga.
The tool, called the ML King Smart City Corridor, is on the stretch of ML King Boulevard from Market Street to Central Avenue. It consists of a series of new sensors, installed at eight existing traffic intersections. The sensors can measure things like traffic flow, air quality, pedestrian paths, and more. There will be many uses for the data collected, beginning with applications for driver and pedestrian safety.
“How are we using the streets? How safe are the streets?” asked Mina Sartipi, who heads UTC’s Center for Urban Informatics and Progress, the department that’s leading the corridor’s development.
Dr. Sartipi showed a live video feed from the cameras on the poles, and she demonstrated how the picture quality is degraded to protect the identity of the cars and people. She added that none of the video footage is stored. Dr. Sartipi also explained how the Smart City Corridor could give researchers the infrastructure needed to study things like public safety, the connection between traffic and air pollution, and other areas that could improve citizens’ lives.
The ML King Smart City Corridor is only possible because of the underlying fiber optic network, that allows for lightning fast data transmission and on-the-spot computing power. It was built through a partnership between UTC, EPB, the city of Chattanooga, and The Enterprise Center.
“This is one of the very few urban testbeds in the nation,” Dr. Sartipi said. “This is the sandbox for our smart city projects.”
Mayor Berke emphasized that this kind of infrastructure will make Chattanooga a destination for researchers from all over who are seeking to improve city life.
“How do we make this an even greater city for creators?” Mayor Berke asked. “Whatever problem you are trying to solve, we want Chattanooga to be the place you come.”
Chancellor Angle added that the ML King Smart City Corridor is not only an asset for the Chattanooga community, but for UTC students.
“Can you imagine the students involved in this project, who are really helping to define what the future is going to be?” said Chancellor Angle.
Sections of the ML King Smart Community Corridor have been up and running since January, and it has already served as a tool for UTC professors and students, as well as researchers from other parts of the country.