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Albany, Chamblee Selected for Inaugural Georgia Smart Communities Challenge

June 13, 2018
Four Georgia communities developed and will implement smart design solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the state. The projects, which tackle housing, traffic congestion, sea level rise and shared autonomous vehicles, are supported through the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge.

The cities of Albany and Chamblee and the counties of Chatham and Gwinnett will soon embark on year-long projects to address housing blight, traffic and transportation woes, and sea level rise along Georgia’s coast. These projects are supported through the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge, a Georgia Tech-led initiative that brings together industry and public agencies to support large and small neighborhoods in their efforts to implement cutting-edge smart technologies.



Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson and other state leaders traveled to Albany Tuesday, June 12, to announce the four winners.

“Georgia Tech is very proud to have played a role in this program, which we believe will improve the quality of life in the participating communities and also provide models for other communities throughout our state to consider as they strive to make life better for their citizens,” Peterson said.

GMA is a partner with Georgia Tech on the initiative.

"GMA is proud to be a sponsor of the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge and is excited about the outstanding projects that have been selected in the challenge's inaugural year," said Larry Hanson, executive director of the Georgia Municipal Association. "The four winners have proposed creative ways to use data and technology to address the challenges they face. We should also note the high level of cooperation in all of the proposals between the lead government and other local governments, state government, and other local organizations. This unique effort lead by Georgia Tech will lay the groundwork for the creation of smart communities across the state."

The program provides seed funding and access to technical assistance, expert advice and a network of peers. A Georgia Tech researcher will advise and conduct research in support of each group’s goals. 

The teams will each receive $50,000 in grants and $25,000 from Georgia Tech in research support. The selected communities each raised an additional $50,000.

Georgia Power is the lead sponsor of the program, with additional financial support from the Atlanta Regional Commission.

The winning proposals are:

Albany Housing Data Initiative
Led by the city of Albany the project will evaluate an automated housing registry. The system will allow for improved neighborhood infrastructure and revitalization and encourage a safe and sustainable housing inventory for the city. Assigned Georgia Tech researcher: Omar Isaac Asensio, assistant professor in the School of Public Policy. Partners: Dougherty County, Dept. Community & Econ. Development, Initiative for Community Housing, Fight Albany Blight.

Shared Autonomous Vehicle Study
Led by the city of Chamblee the project will study improvements in mobility through the use of autonomous vehicles that travel from MARTA stations into the community. This will reduce road congestion and increase pedestrian and traveler safety. Assigned Georgia Tech researcher: Ellen Dunham-Jones, professor in the School of Architecture. Partners: City of Doraville, MARTA, Assembly CID, Stantec.

Smart Sea Level Tools for Emergency Planning and Response
Led by Chatham County, this project will develop and test a pilot sensor network for measuring sea level flood risk during natural disasters and storms. The network will improve flood warnings, emergency response action plans and predictions for future flood events. Assigned Georgia Tech researcher: Kim Cobb, Georgia Power Chair and professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Partners: City of Savannah, Creative Coast.

Connected Vehicle Technology Master Plan
Led by Gwinnett County, this project will evaluate traffic management technologies for improved vehicle mobility throughout the region. The technology will improve safety and connectivity. Assigned Georgia Tech researcher: Angshuman Guin, senior research engineer in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Partners: Georgia Department of Transportation, Cities of Berkeley Lake, Duluth, Norcross, and Suwanee.

Georgia Smart organizers expect the strategies developed by the selected communities will serve as models that could be implemented elsewhere across the state.  

The program is just one part of the work Georgia Tech is doing in this area. The Institute has partnered with the city of Atlanta since 2015 to design, implement and study Smart City initiatives.

“For us, Georgia Smart represents a great opportunity to branch out to other parts of our state,” Peterson said.

Work on the projects will begin in September and continue through September 2019.

Georgia Tech will conduct site visits to the four communities and hold workshops, conference calls and other activities to support the projects, said Debra Lam, managing director of Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation at Georgia Tech.

“Creating and implementing smart communities is hard work and it’s difficult,” she said. “But we know we’re on the right path when we are purposely empowering local communities themselves with data and technology.”

In addition to GMA, additional Georgia Smart partners include: Association County Commissioners of Georgia, Georgia Centers for Innovation, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Global City Challenges, Metro Atlanta Chamber and Technology Association of Georgia.