The University of Memphis FedEx Institute of Technology and the City of Memphis are partnering on a smart city initiative with a focus on research, development and deployment of projects that offer technological and analytically-based solutions to challenges facing urban areas. The initiative is part of the MetroLab Network program – city-university partnerships in which the university is the city’s R&D department and the city is a test-bed. Faculty and students get access to real-life laboratories to test approaches aimed at addressing city priorities and challenges. Cities, and their residents, benefit from technologies and policies that leverage digital and information technology, data analytics, sensing, and more.
The city of Memphis, under the leadership of Mayor Jim Strickland, identified four key areas of concentration including crime, litter, blight and efficient government. Research proposals were sought from research faculty and awards were given for the following:
- Uncovering latent community issues through social media;
- A planning support system for comprehensive planning and zoning: a geospatial simulation model of land use, land cover change for the Memphis metropolitan region;
- A new chapter for recycling: using geographic information systems (GIS) and mixed-methods approach to improve the market development and transportation of recycled materials;
- Detecting unusual objects, actions and events;
- Using new technologies to survey Memphis residents: identifying and responding to local concerns;
- Predicting localized, fine-grained crime types using Twitter;
- Integrated healthy homes assessment and intervention for children in Memphis;
- Modeling adoption of technological innovations and infrastructure impacts in a smart city; and,
- Linking home energy insecurity to the built environment and population health in Memphis.
The FedEx Institute of Technology currently partners with other companies and organizations within the city, including: FedEx, International Paper, AutoZone, Methodist, Tech901, Memphis Technology Foundation, Memphis PASS Chapter, DAMA, Memphis WebWorkers, Memphis R User Groups, Memphis Game Developers and many more. Partnerships are a critical element in positioning the FedEx Institute of Technology as a hub for technology research and development.