Transforming Urban Living

Transforming Urban Living

New $26 Million NSF Engineering Research Center for Smart Streetscapes

The new $26 million National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center for Smart Streetscapes (CS3) is not just a boon for economic development — it’s a concept to make downtown communities more accessible, safer and more attractive for residents, businesses and visitors to live, work and play.

The idea is to develop livable, safe and inclusive communities by focusing on the streetscape — the neighborhood streets, sidewalks and public spaces. For Florida Atlantic University, the CS3 focus is on the vibrant City of West Palm Beach — urban living at its best.

The Engineering Research Center program is NSF’s flagship engineering program to catalyze convergent research to address large-scale societal challenges. FAU’s Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering (I-SENSE), and College of Engineering and Computer Science, landed this major center with Columbia University, Rutgers University, the University of Central Florida and Lehman College. As one of the most competitive research programs in the country, CS3 was selected from among hundreds of candidate centers.

CS3 builds upon FAU’s longstanding partnership with the City of West Palm Beach, developed through the West Palm Beach Mobility Intelligence Project, led by FAU’s I-SENSE. Launched in 2019, and supported through the City of West Palm Beach, the Knight Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties, the pedestrian mobility sensing project plays a central role in CS3.

Over the next decade, CS3 will bring a range of smart streetscape technologies to the City of West Palm Beach and position the city as a national leader in smart cities,” said Keith A. James, West Palm Beach mayor. “These technologies will enable new streetscape applications designed to enhance livability, safety and inclusivity across the West Palm Beach community – from enabling safer crosswalks, to improving transportation and parking, to assisting pedestrians with disabilities. The specific applications to be developed will be selected and guided through continuous public engagement.”

The nation’s streetscapes define the character of American communities, linking people with social and commercial institutions, and bonding people across demographic identities. Streetscapes are prime sites for deploying engineering research to fortify society. A “smart streetscape” could instantly sense human behavior and guide disabled pedestrians, collect refuse, control pests, amplify emergency services and protect people against environmental and health threats.

Jason Hallstrom, Ph.D., executive director of I-SENSE, serves as deputy director and chief research officer for CS3. He leads an expansive FAU team from I-SENSE, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, and researchers, staff and students from across the FAU community.

“Our team could not be more excited to embark on this path with our partners to advance the future of the nation’s streetscapes, and to deliver fundamental improvements in the livability, safety and inclusivity of American communities through engineering research and education,” Hallstrom said.

FAU’s CS3 team leads include Dimitris Pados, Ph.D., Schmidt Eminent Scholar Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, a fellow of I-SENSE and director of the Center for Connected Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence; Jinwoo Jang, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and an I-SENSE fellow; Jiannan Zhai, Ph.D., research assistant professor, I-SENSE; John Renne, Ph.D., professor and director of the Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science; Valentine Aalo, Ph.D., professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; and Donna Chamely-Wiik, Ph.D., associate dean for undergraduate research and prestigious fellowships, Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry.

“Together with Columbia University and our other core partners, FAU will co-lead smart city research and innovation, capitalizing on and growing our collective experience in sensing technologies, artificial intelligence, high-speed wireless communication, simulation and forecasting, among other areas of expertise,” said Stella Batalama, Ph.D., dean, FAU College of Engineering and Computer Science. “Joining forces with our academic, government and industry partners will help to ensure the rapid translation of these technologies for wide-use applications and fruitful economic impact.”

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