Skip to main content

Social Justice and Equity in the Engineering of Smart and Connected Cities


Faculty at the University of Washington, in partnership with Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Washington University in St. Louis and Missouri S&T, will host a Smart and Connected Communities Workshop as part of the NSF-funded SCC-RCN project entitled, MOHERE: Mobility, Health, and Resilience: Building Capacities and Expanding Impact. This workshop will focus on scholarship and strategies around engineering and smart-city technologies that contribute to strengthening the health and resilience of underserved and at-risk communities in cities, particularly those experiencing homelessness. Scholars and practitioners from a variety of fields spanning engineering, social sciences, social work and humanities will discuss the challenges cities face and develop ideas addressing the themes of environment, mobility, resilience, and equity.



Monday, December 10, 2018 – Walker-Ames Room, 225 Kane Hall, University of Washington

8:00 AM: Breakfast and Registration

8:45 AM: Welcome: Radha Poovendran, Chair, UW Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Thaisa Way, Faculty Director, Urban@UW

9:00 AM: Keynote:  Mami Hara, General Manager & CEO, Seattle Public Utilities; “Leading with Equity

9:40 AM:  Opening Panel: A City’s Equity Challenges: from Homelessness to Climate Change

  • Mami Hara, General Manager and CEO, Seattle Public Utilities
  • Adrienne Quinn, Former Director, King County Department of Community and Human Services; Distinguished Practitioner, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance; “Regional Approaches to Homelessness: Research Questions”
  • Nicole Vallestero Keenan-Lai, Executive Director, Puget Sound Sage; “Environmental Justice and Homelessness”
  • Moderator: Katharine Lusk, Initiative on Cities, Boston University

10:30 AM:  Break

11:00 AM:  Session One: Environment, Climate, and Equity

12:30 PM:  Lunch

1:30 PM:  Environmental Justice and Health

3:00 PM:  Coffee and table discussions

3:30 PM:  Session Two: Mobility, Equity, and Health

5:00 PM: Day one wrap-up & report out: David Corman, Radha Poovendran, and Thaisa Way

5:30 PM: Reception and posters


6:30 PM, Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering 125:
Public LectureKhalid Kadir, UC-Berkeley; “Whose Communities? Recentering engineering and engineers, and moving from social good to social justice

  • Welcome and Introduction: Michael BraggDean, UW College of Engineering


Tuesday December 11, 2018 – Walker-Ames Room, 225 Kane Hall, University of Washington

8:00 AM:  Breakfast

8:30 AM:  Welcome and Overview: Thaisa Way

8:35 AM:  Keynote Speaker:  Anu Ramaswami, University of Minnesota; “Meta-Principles for Developing Smart, Sustainable, and Healthy Cities”

  • Introduction: Sajal Das, Daniel St. Clair Endowed Chair Professor, Computer Science, Missouri University of Science and Technology

9:20 AM:  Session Three:  Resilience and Equity

11:00 AM: Coffee and discussion: Research Ideas

11:15 AM: Sustainability and the Smart and Just City

12:15 PM: Lunch and Presentation

1:30 PM: Wrap up/next steps: Radha Poovendran, Thaisa Way

2:00 PM: End- Thank you!


Speaker List


  • Araya Asfaw is an Associate Professor, Department of Physics, Addis Ababa University. With a research focus on Laser Spectroscopy, Environmental Science and Sustainable Energy, Professor Asfaw previously directed the Horn of Africa Regional Environmental Center at the university. He attained his PhD in physics at Howard University, and was a Fellow at University of Massachusetts Boston.
  • Matt Auflick is the Public Education Coordinator for the Office of Emergency Management at the City of Seattle. He is responsible for leading a team of staff and volunteers in the development and delivery of preparedness training to a variety of audiences throughout the city of Seattle. This includes developing guidance and products on emergency planning for individuals, families, non-profits, and businesses. In addition to these education duties, Mr. Auflick serves in response and incident coordination roles. This includes serving regularly as OEM staff duty officer to provide a single point of contact for city coordination needs, and serving in various leadership roles in the city’s emergency operations center when activated for large incidents. He has spent his career in disaster and emergency management, and attained a Master of Public and International Affairs, with a field of study in Human Security/ Disaster Management, at University of Pittsburgh.
  • Lara Clark is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of Washington. Dr. Clark focuses her research on the environmental justice aspects of transportation-related air pollution. She attained her PhD in Environmental Engineering from the University of Minnesota.
  • Amanda Giang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Engineering at the University of British Columbia. Her research addresses challenges at the interface of environmental modelling and policy through an interdisciplinary lens, with a focus on air pollution and toxics. How can we use simulation, statistical, and qualitative methods to assess the environmental and health impacts of technology and policy? How do we take into account uncertainty in human, technological, and natural systems? And how can we use environmental modelling to better empower communities and inform policy decision-making, from local to global scales? Dr. Giang attained her PhD at MIT, with postdoctoral work at MIT and Harvard University.
  • Judith Gonyea is the Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Professor in the School of Social Work at Boston University. Dr. Gonyea focuses her scholarship on vulnerable urban elders; aging politics and policies; community-based aging programs and services; age-friendly communities; intergenerational family relations and caregiving; older women’s economic and health status; the intersection of health and housing in later life; older homelessness. She is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America. Dr. Gonyea attained her PhD in Social Welfare from the University of Washington.
  • Jayant Gupta is a PhD student at University of Minnesota Twin Cities. His research in machine learning is focused on examining spatio-temporal traffic movement, summarizing sentiment rich text, modeling real-time industrial sensors and classifying URLs at network layer. Mr. Gupta attained his MS in Computer Sciences and Systems at University of Washington.
  • Dana Habeeb is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Informatics at Indiana University. Trained as an architect and urban designer; Dr. Habeeb brings a design perspective to her research in environmental planning and health. With a focus on designing local interventions, she investigates ways to engage and empower individuals to respond to current and future environmental problems by synthesizing research in climate change, public health and environmental sensing. Her research explores how climate responsive design can help mitigate climate change and address environmental challenges to improve the health of individuals and communities. Dr. Habeeb attained her PhD in Regional Planning at Georgia Institute of Technology.
  • Mami Hara is the General Manager of Seattle Public Utilities, which provides solid waste and drainage and wastewater services for Seattle residents and businesses, and drinking water for 1.4 million regional customers in 27 municipalities. Mami is committed to advancing an equitable and sustainable Seattle and region through collaboration and strategic investment. Under her leadership, SPU is developing a vision of a community centered utility to further strengthen its services and partnership with residents and businesses. Before becoming a utility manager, here and in Philadelphia, Mami worked with cities across the US in the planning, design and implementation of green infrastructure, sustainability, economic development, and waterfront programs, as well as community-led environmental initiatives.
  • Khalid Kadir is a Continuing Lecturer at UC Berkeley, teaching courses in the Global Poverty & Practice (GPP) program, Political Economy, and the College of Engineering. He received his PhD in 2010 from Berkeley in Civil and Environmental Engineering, where his research focused on pathogen removal in natural water and wastewater treatment systems. He is a recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Teaching Award, UC Berkeley’s most prestigious honor for teaching. In addition to his technical work as an engineer, Khalid studies the complex role that engineering expertise plays in the politics of international development and poverty alleviation.
  • Sarah M. Kaufman is Assistant Director for Technology Programming at the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation, where she researches, advocates for and educates about cutting-edge technologies in transportation. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Planning, teaching Intelligent Cities. Ms. Kaufman leads several projects related to improving transportation through technology: Intelligent Paratransit, to rethink how we transport seniors and the disabled; Emerging Leaders in Transportation Fellowship, a program to enhance innovation at all levels of transportation planning and policymaking; and Job Access, a comparative study of how livelihoods are affected by level of access to mass transit in New York City. Ms. Kaufman has been cited in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC Nightly News, CityLab and Urban Omnibus for her work on gender and biking, job access, and intelligent transportation. Ms. Kaufman joined NYU Wagner after nearly five years at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, where she led the open data program, created a conference and online exchange between the MTA and software developers, and assisted in developing the agency’s social media program. Ms. Kaufman earned a Master of Urban Planning from NYU’s Wagner School in 2005, specializing in infrastructure, transportation, and telecommunications, and wrote an award-winning thesis designing a bus arrival time signage system. She earned her BA from Washington University in St. Louis, majoring in science writing and concentrating in computer science. She is a font of useless NYC transit trivia.
  • Julian Marshall is the John R. Kiely Endowed Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at University of Washington. Marshall’s research is at the intersection of air quality engineering and public health: understanding how much pollution people breathe, and how to reduce those exposures. His specific areas of focus are 1) Mechanistic and empirical modeling of air pollution, to understand how concentrations vary in space and time, and how concentrations and health impacts would change in response to changes in emissions; 2) Measuring and modeling air pollution exposures in developing countries (at present, mainly India), including how exposures change in response to interventions; and 3) Environmental justice: understanding who is more exposed or less exposed to air pollution, how those exposures correlate with demographic attributes such as race and income, and how exposure disparities might shift if emissions from specific sources were to increase or decrease. Before coming to UW in 2016, Marshall was at University of Minnesota, where he founded the Masters International program in Environmental Engineering and, with Fred Rose, the Acara program in social entrepreneurship. At UW, Marshall founded the Grand Challenges Impact Lab (GCIL). GCIL offers a winter-quarter class in Bangalore, India, where students work with local organizations to apply tools of social innovation to local problems, such as rural education, sanitation, low-income housing, public health, migration, and more. Information is on the GCIL website.
  • Nilay Mistry is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology. Professor Mistry possesses several years of experience indesign practice and teaching in landscape architecture and urban design in the United States, Africa, and Asia. His ongoing research and transdisciplinary design work explores rooting interventions in public space in readings of cultural identity, urban networks, and landscape flows. Nilay’s research on informal settlements and Asian urbanization has been the subject of various publications and design studios, facilitating multiple design/build projects around the world. Dr. Mistry attained his Masters of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Harvard University.
  • Neal Patwari received the B.S. (1997) and M.S. (1999) degrees from Virginia Tech, and the Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2005), all in Electrical Engineering. He was a research engineer in Motorola Labs, Florida, between 1999 and 2001.  Since 2006, he has been at the University of Utah, where he is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, with an adjunct appointment in the School of Computing and Department of Bioengineering. He directs the Sensing and Processing Across Networks (SPAN) Lab, which performs research at the intersection of statistical signal processing and wireless networking.  Neal is also the Director of Research at Xandem Technology, which develops security and home automation products based on radio sensing technologies spun out of the SPAN lab. Neal received the NSF CAREER Award in 2008, the 2009 IEEE Signal Processing Society Best Magazine Paper Award, and the 2011 University of Utah Early Career Teaching Award. His is a co-author on two papers with Best Paper Awards, at IEEE SenseApp 2012 and IPSN 2014.   He has served on technical program committees for ACM and IEEE conferences Mobicom, IPSN, SECON, EWSN, ICDCS, DCOSS, ICC, RTAS, CNS, ICCCN, and MILCOM.
  • Dirk Pesch is Professor and Head of the Nimbus Research Centre at Cork Institute of Technology. Dirk’s research interests focus on design and performance characterisation of algorithms, protocols, and services for wireless and mobile networks and low power wireless network design for Cyber-Physical Systems and the Internet of Things. He has over 25 years research and development experience in both industry and academia and has co-authored over 200 scientific publications including three edited books/paper collections. He is also an SFI-funded Investigator. He is currently on the editorial board of the International Journal of Distributed Sensor NetworksSpringer Wireless Networks and Elsevier Pervasive and Mobile Computing (PMC) journals and served previously on the editorial board of IEEE Vehicular Technology Magazine. He is also involved in conference organisation through membership of several technical programme committees of conferences such as IEEE VTCIEEE PIMRCIEEE GlobecomIEEE ICCIEEE World Forum for the IoT, and several workshops co-located with IEEE PerCom. He was the TPC chair of the IEEE Vehicular Technology Conference Spring 2007 in Dublin and the TPC- co-chair of ACM Buildsys 2010 in Zurich, Switzerland. The research centre he leads at Cork Institute of Technology, the Nimbus Centre, focuses on research and innovation in Cyber-Physical Systems and the Internet of Things with major applications in energy and water resource management, smart cities and the built environment, future manufacturing and Industry 4.0. Dirk is also involved as advisor to startups spun-out of Nimbus.
  • Cathleen Power is the Associate Director for Faculty & Academic Engagement at the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement at Washington University in St. Louis. Previously, Dr. Popwer served as Associate Professor and Community Engaged Learning Manager at the University of Utah’s Division of Gender Studies, and as Associate Professor at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. She earned her PhD in Social Psychology and Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan.
  • Anu Ramaswami is the Charles M. Denny, Jr., Chair of Science, Technology, and Public Policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a professor bioproducts and biosystems engineering in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Ramaswami is among the leading scholars on sustainable urban infrastructure and has seen her work adopted as policies and protocols for developing sustainable cities in the United States and internationally. Ramaswami’s research spans environmental modeling, environmental technologies, industrial ecology, sustainable infrastructure design, urban systems analysis, and integration of science and technology with policy and planning for real-world implementation in communities. She has developed novel interdisciplinary education programs and resources in these diverse areas. She is the lead author of a graduate-level textbook on integrated environmental modeling. Ramaswami received her BS in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology–Madras, India, and her MS and PhD in civil and environmental engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. She serves as chair of the newly founded Sustainable Urban Systems section at the International Society of Industrial Ecology, and represents the United States in various international urban sustainability networks.
  • Adrienne Quinn is a Distinguished Practitioner at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Washington. From November 2013 to December 2018, Quinn served as the Director of King County’s Department of Community and Human Services. Quinn came to King County from the Medina Foundation in Seattle, where as executive director she led strategic initiatives to build nonprofit capacity and improve services for vulnerable populations. Quinn was instrumental in working with human service providers in homeless housing, domestic violence programs, food distribution systems, and youth development programs in 14 counties in western Washington, including King County. Quinn previously served as vice president for public policy and government relations for Enterprise Community Partners in Washington, D.C., and as director of the City of Seattle’s Office of Housing.
  • Jacklin Stonewall is a Ph.D. student in the Departments of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering and Human Computer Interaction at Iowa State University. Jacklin obtained her B.S. and M.S. from Iowa State University in Aerospace Engineering and Industrial Engineering, respectively. Her M.S. thesis focused on the interaction of perceived gender, professionalism, and user experience in website design. She is advised by Dr. Michael Dorneich and her research interests include gender HCI, decision support systems, sustainability, and the creation of equitable cities and classrooms. Jacklin received the Iowa State University Research Excellence Award in 2016.
  • Nicole Vallestero Keenan-Lai is the Executive Director at Puget Sound Sage. She has more than a decade of experience in research, advocacy, civic engagement, racial justice organizing, social services, and community and business outreach. Previously, Nicole was the executive director of the Fair Work Center, a hub for workers to better understand and exercise their legal rights, improve their working conditions and connect with community resources. Before launching the Fair Work Center, Nicole served as the Policy Director at Puget Sound Sage, where she led policy and analysis work on labor standards and environmental justice. Nicole began her career through community engagement and youth engagement roles at the Washington Environmental Council, El Centro de la Raza and the Washington Bus. Nicole has co-authored several publications on a variety of topics including financial capacity, income taxes, childcare, environmental justice and the economic impact of living wages. Her work has been featured in local, national and international media including the New York Times, BBC, The Guardian and Huffington Post. Nicole holds a Bachelors degree in Public Policy from The College of William and Mary, and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Washington. In 2014, Nicole received a 50th Anniversary Civil Rights Leadership Award the Seattle Office of Civil Rights and Women’s Commission and in 2015 she was named as one of the 15 people Who Should Really Run Seattle by the Seattle Metropolitan Magazine.

Planning Committee

  • Thaisa Way,  Executive Director, Urban@UW, UW
  • Radha Poovendran, Professor and Chair, Electrical Engineering, UW
  • Hedwig Lee, Professor, Sociology, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Julian Marshall,  John R. Kiely Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, UW
  • Lara P Clark, PhD Candidate, Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, UW
  • Andrew Clark, Assistant Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Sajal Das, Daniel St. Clair Endowed Chair Professor, Computer Science, Missouri S&T
  • Jeffrey Ban, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, UW
  • Scott Allard, Professor, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, UW
  • Jeff Berman, Thomas & Marilyn Nielsen Associate Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, UW
  • Ann Bostrom, Professor, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, UW
  • Katie Idziorek, PhD Student, Urban Design & Planning, College of Built Environments, UW