What is MetroLab Network?
Universities don’t typically work with cities to develop programs, and cities don’t typically apply research from universities to help create better, more sustainable cities.
MetroLab Network launched in 2015 as part of the White House Smart Cities Initiative, its primary purpose to create partnerships between local governments and universities, to develop and deploy new technologies and methods to address challenges in the nation’s urban areas by connecting research universities with city programs. It's now a national network of more than 40 city-university partnerships focused on urban innovation, bringing university research and expertise in design, engineering and community engagement to local governments.
Under Colorado MetroLab, the University of Colorado Boulder has entered into agreements with the mayors of Boulder, Longmont and Denver to collaborate on projects in those cities. University and city committees work to identify and implement projects.
Colorado MetroLab was launched as part of the White House’s Smart Cities Initiative. CU Boulder and the initial cities of Boulder and Denver memorialized their commitment in a letter to President Obama.
- A Colorado MetroLab project has won MetroLab Network's March 2019 "Innovation of the Month" award, given to outstanding projects that involves local government and university partners. For this Colorado MetroLab project, CU Boulder partnered with Denver to develop the Green Infrastructure Decision Tool, a data-rich forecasting and action tool that assesses the effects of growth and climate change on built and natural urban surfaces. Read the article in Government Technology (GT) magazine.
- Five teams from CU Boulder submitted proposals for the Civic Innovation Challenge, a national competition run by MetroLab, and one was selected. More info coming soon!
Ongoing Colorado MetroLab Projects
Longmont Downtown Revitalization Studio
More info coming soon!
Impervious Cover Forecasting & Water Quality/Quantity Modeling
This project builds upon the Berkeley Neighborhood Impervious Cover Change study, creating a model that forecasts impervious cover change and the impact to stormwater runoff volumes and pollutant loads. The project focuses on (re)developments under one acre as those projects are currently not required to implement water quality Best Management Practices. Another goal is to identify tools and solutions for new policy implementation, trading programs and green infrastructure solutions for the city.
Boulder Sustainable Design Workshop
The project brings the city of Boulder and the University of Colorado Boulder into a partnership to develop sustainable designs of new commercial, affordable housing and infrastructure projects. Projects are selected and then promoted as focal issues for classes, studios or joint student-faculty research groups. This collaboration expands existing partnerships, such as the Civic Center redevelopment. It will also build upon the eco-district model for Boulder’s sustainability goals through adaptations in environmental systems at a site, neighborhood and district scale.
This project builds on the Growing Up Boulder (GUB) project to encourage resident participation in future city discussions. The goal is to promote multi-generational engagement in community research and action through application, testing and assessment of tools and methods from storytelling to digital decision systems. This initiative allows for the city and university faculty to jointly work to improve engagement practice, evaluate alternative engagement approaches and focus and encourage collaborations around shared priorities to include CU Boulder's Office for Outreach and Engagement, CU Engage and the Community Engagement, Design and Research Center (CEDaR).
MetroLab Summit - Registration Open!
MetroLab — a national network of more than 40 city-university partnerships focused on urban innovation — will host its MetroLab Network 2019 Annual Summit in Boulder, Colo., Sept. 19-20, 2019, and CEDaR is co-hosting it with the city of Boulder! The Summit brings together leaders from local governments, universities, industry and nonprofits and will be an opportunity to share, discuss and present on the impact of data, analytics and technology on local government.
Through its prestigious panelists, the Summit spotlights the importance and benefits of collaborating with academia on projects from urban planning to civic data integration to the implementation of technology for community referral services. The Summit also showcases smart city collaborative projects and will include fun activities, including a reception in which attendees and panelists can network in an informal setting.
MetroLab Summit History
Since MetroLab Networks’ launch in 2015 as part of the White House Smart Cities Initiative, there have been two annual summits. The first summit in 2017 was held in Atlanta, Georgia, and hosted by the Georgia Institute of Technology, and last year's summit was hosted by the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, New Jersey.
Examples of Past Summit Panels:
Technology for Civic Data Integration, focused on how governments are building integrated data systems from a technology perspective.
Land Use in the Age of Smart Cities & Smart Mobility, discussed how technology and data affects cities at a macro- and micro-level. It also explored how data, mapping, visualization,and prediction are presenting opportunities for city planners, as well as how new technologies affect cities at the street level, e.g. dockless bikes and increased freight.
Making Civic Research a University Priority, focused on how universities are increasingly harnessing their intellectual assets – their faculty, researchers, and students – to drive civic innovation. The panel explored how some universities have created an academic culture that encourages and incentivizes engagement with civic partners, including cities, industry and nonprofits. It also addressed how universities have created programs and institutes, like CU Boulder's CEDaR Center, that house city-university collaboration.
Examples of Summit post-lunch breakout sessions:
Ethics and Algorithms Workshop Though data algorithms are inevitable, they are inherently biased. During this workshop, a team from the Center for Government Excellence introduced a new toolkit that helps assess risk factors and identify mitigations in a real-world context.
Mapping for Air Quality Impact Cities have a powerful and underappreciated resource for understanding and fighting air pollution and climate change. The session explored how city leaders can design – and see the results of – climate and clean air investments that maximize local impact.
Examples of past Summit speakers:
Bill Skerpan, innovation & analytics manager, city of Boulder
Nancy LeaMond, EVP & chief advocacy and engagement officer, AARP
Governor Martin O’Malley, 61st governor of Maryland and 47th mayor of Baltimore
Rayid Ghani, director of the Center for Data Science and Public Policy, University of Chicago
2018 Summit Keynote: Beth Noveck, chief innovation officer for the state of New Jersey.