Annual Letter, Fall 2016


We are delighted to acknowledge our first year of working with you to identify how we collectively address some of the most complex and daunting challenges in the 21st century cities. Urban@UW , an initiative of UW’s Office of Research and CoMotion, was launched in Summer 2015. We are asking our academic colleagues how we might come together around the burning questions and challenges of our cities today- to have a greater, more productive, and resilient impact, here in the Puget Sound region and across the globe.

We focused our first year on identifying how to build on existing strengths while catalyzing new and alternative collective responses and approaches. We explored grand urban challenges in conversation with faculty, staff, and students as well as community and civic leaders. Over the course of many discussions, we identified three areas that warranted our attention and creative responses. Now we are actively pulling together innovative teams to consider, design, and implement inclusive responses to these challenge areas:

  • environmental justice in a time of increasing urbanization and climate change
  • meeting the housing needs of diverse homeless populations in our cities
  • bringing data to policy and practice in transparent and responsible ways through an UrbAnalytics studio

We are also partnering on two projects:

With almost 400 faculty, researchers, and teachers on our three campuses focused on urban questions, we have an unprecedented opportunity to identify more robust and productive approaches to improving human and environmental health across our urban landscapes. As a public university, we can harness the brilliance of our community to imagine, plan, design, and steward just equitable healthy and resilient cities.

Urban@UW seeks to be nimble in our capacity to identify, catalyze, incubate, and accelerate research and teaching and service that will have a collective impact, stewarding more resilient and sustainable cities and their broader communities. To know more, read the attached letter and check out our ever-expanding website,

We look forward to working with each of you, Thank you to the hundreds who have reached out and participated with us in this grand effort.

Co-founders: Thom Dunning, Bill Howe, Vikram Jandhyala, Margaret O’Mara, and Thaisa Way

Executive Committee:
Scott Allard, Professor, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance
Thom H. Dunning Jr, Battelle Fellow, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Bill Howe, Associate Professor, I-School; Associate Director of the eScience Institute
Vikram Jandyhala, Vice President for Innovation Strategy; Executive Director, CoMotion
Susan P. Kemp, School of Social Work
Margaret O’Mara, Associate Professor History, College of Arts & Sciences
Radha Poovendran, Director, Network Security Lab; Professor and Chair, Electrical Engineering , CoEng.
Thaisa Way, Professor, College of Built Environments

Download the complete 2016 Annual Letter.

Inclusive Data-Driven Innovation for the Future of Cities