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Smart Cities and Data Equity


Urban@UW has from the beginning been committed to bringing an equity lens to the use of technology and capture of data that is becoming ubiquitous in our cities. Our work to develop “smart to wise cities” through data equity includes the below initiatives, as well as other events, collaborations and projects.

MetroLab Network

Urban@UW is proud to be a member in the MetroLab Network since 2015. The initiative, launched then by the White House, aimed at activating smart city principles through targeted partnerships between cities and universities. The City of Seattle and the University of Washington host one of dozens city-university partnerships in this national network, each striving to develop technological and data-grounded solutions to challenges facing urban areas. Our partnership is focused on leveraging smart city technology for social good. Our ambition is to leverage city-university and city-to-city partnerships to broaden knowledge-sharing and collectively work towards addressing urban challenges that affect multiple communities: from individual citizens and institutions, to the city itself.

Learn more about MetroLab.

Mobility, Health, and Resilience (MOHERE) Smart and Connected Communities Research Coordination Network

This NSF-funded Research Collaboration Network (RCN) takes an integrative approach to community engagement and research capacity building connecting experts in social, behavior, economic, and learning sciences, design, built environments, computer science, and engineering, in partnership with local and municipal community leaders and practitioners. With PI Payman Arabshahi and with Rachel Berney, Faculty Director of Urban@UW collaboratively leading as one of the Co-PIs, the project focuses on Mobility, Health and Well-Being, and Resilience of Interdependent Infrastructures as primary areas for capacity building. Partnering with communities including those experiencing homelessness, adolescents, and others, we work to understand and mitigate direct impacts to mobility through public transportation, health as shaped by access to services, food, and housing, and community capacity for infrastructural resilience. In May 2023 we will host a workshop under this project. This workshop will focus on scholarship and strategies to reduce homelessness and expand personal mobility, especially for underserved and vulnerable communities. The focus on homelessness and mobility will be unified by an overall approach focused on improving resilience and health. We will bring together researchers from a variety of fields spanning engineering, social sciences, health, and humanities to discuss with civic and community leaders the challenges cities face and develop ideas addressing three themes:

  • Homelessness and Equity
    • Connecting and leveraging efforts across the public/private/nonprofit sectors
    • Reducing barriers to building and accessing housing
    • Wealth building to reduce housing needs
  • Mobility and Health
    • Mobility solutions that respond to climate change, natural disasters, and health
    • Equitable development and mobility
    • Vulnerable populations and transit access
  • Disaster Preparedness, Resilience, and Equity
    • Meeting the needs of the unhoused via disaster preparedness
    • Addressing social and climate resilience through disaster preparedness
    • Building networks to support preparedness


With over 80% of the planet impacted by urbanization in an accelerating trend, this moment in history is defined by a clarion call for inclusive, data-driven innovation to improve the resiliency, health, and well-being of cities. As an effort led by Bill Howe, UrbAnalytics is a campus-wide effort to advance municipal big data projects. UrbAnalytics bridges expertise from the eScience Institute and faculty from across the Urban@UW network to build capacity for high-impact, responsible, data-driven analytics and research projects on behalf of government and community stakeholders, addressing the complex challenges and opportunities of the urban landscape.

Learn more about UrbAnalytics.

UW Data Collaborative

Urban@UW supports the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology‘s leadership of the UW Data Collaborative (UWDC), providing secure access to complex data sets for sophisticated analysis. UWDC provides the infrastructure to harness innovative, but hard-to-access and highly sensitive data for the development of novel, high-quality research and evidence-driven policy making. Central to the UWDC is a state-of-the art computing cluster that provides access to sensitive and/or restricted data in a secure and computationally sophisticated environment.

Learn more about UWDC.

Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative

To lead a focused response for evidence-based innovation to improve the resiliency, health, and well-being of cities and their inhabitants, the University of Washington (through a partnership between the UW eScience InstituteUrbAnalytics and Urban@UW) and the University of British Columbia (through a partnership between UBC’s Data Science Institute and UBC’s Sustainability Initiative) have formed the Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative (CUAC), an applied, interdisciplinary, regional center that brings together academic researchers, students, and public stakeholder groups to address topics affecting citizens of the Cascadia region. The specific focus of CUAC is data science for social good in an urban context: high-impact data science and analytics projects that aim to understand and extract valuable actionable information out of data from urban environments in the Cascadia region at a neighborhood level. CUAC applies a fine-grained approach to data science through interdisciplinary partnerships across fields such as public policy, urban planning, civil engineering, landscape architecture, sociology, real estate, computer science and law. CUAC projects span all data science topics, with a particular focus on equitable transportation, housing stability, population health and responsible data science.

Learn more about CUAC.

Data Science for Social Good

Urban@UW provided past support for the eScience Institute’s Data Science for Social Good, a summer program that brings together students, stakeholders, and data and domain researchers to work on focused, collaborative projects for societal benefit.

Learn more about DSSG.


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

This workshop, organized by the UW Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Urban@UW, and West Coast Poverty Center, focused 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 discussed the challenges cities face and developed ideas addressing the themes of environment, mobility, resilience, and equity.

Learn more about this 2018 workshop.


Partners and Collaborators