Where is Urbanova?2021-08-31T08:48:02-07:00

Urbanova is located in Spokane, Washington’s University District. A midsize city with a population of more than 220,000, Spokane is the cultural, economic, educational, and social hub of the Intermountain Northwest. Adjacent to its vibrant downtown is the University District, which encompasses 770 acres of academic and mixed-use buildings, residential neighborhoods, and undeveloped or underdeveloped land. Six higher education institutions operate in the University District, which is already a center for health sciences education and research.

What sets Urbanova apart?2021-08-31T08:48:51-07:00

Urbanova is genuinely committed to a people-centric approach to finding new ways to make communities better. Partners include not only research experts and municipal service providers, but also global leaders in fields such as behavior science, behavioral health, the industrial internet of things, global broadband connectivity, and smart/healthy buildings. The contained footprint of the University District provides an ideal proving ground for prototyping applications, solutions, and business models in a faster and more cost-effective way. This is further underscored by Urbanova’s shared governance model – enabling its partners to have a much higher impact than if they were working alone – and an open technology platform that encourages innovation and collaboration among researchers, citizens, and entrepreneurs. By focusing on the unique strengths and challenges of midsize cities, Urbanova can move more nimbly to develop and prove solutions that work. The model is capital-efficient: Learn fast and adapt. And Urbanova’s location in the heart of Spokane’s health sciences education and research center, adjacent to the largest healthcare hub between Seattle and Minneapolis, provides unique research opportunities including a focus on native, rural, and underserved populations.

How does Urbanova empower people? How will it solve urban challenges?2021-08-31T08:50:21-07:00

The challenges we face as a society are more complex than any one organization, sector, or partnership can solve on its own. The promise of smart cities is a massive innovation challenge; there is little to no innovation without connection, collaboration, and inclusion of multiple points of view. From the diversity of our founding team to the ecosystem we’ve built around Urbanova, we are practicing team-building on a grand scale. It’s a worthy objective – but it’s neither easy nor fast. We’re approaching our mission with a growth mindset and are practicing principles such as humility, curiosity, and a willingness to learn and adapt.

Urbanova is pursuing scalable and replicable solutions suitable for midsize cities anywhere. Cities are fundamentally about people – so instead of starting with technology, we’re starting with an understanding of the lived experience of those who live in the neighborhoods that comprise the Spokane University District. From there we work with our collaborators and the residents to identify the problem we’re collectively trying to solve, stated in plain language. Then we consider whether and to what degree technology can play a role in the resulting solution(s). Using an adaptive learning model, our team will learn what works and what needs modification by applying a solution, measuring the results, and evaluating next steps.

The use of a collaborative data platform for exploring, visualizing, and interacting with location-based open data enables innovation. Researchers, citizens, urban services providers, and entrepreneurs can use this data to develop and improve apps, inform urban planning, and, ultimately, make systems work better for citizens. Technology and data can inform our actions to address issues like resource scarcity, traffic, safety, and health, e.g.:

  • The ability to collect and analyze data on traffic and pedestrian patterns can influence the development of road improvements and walking paths as well as save lives.
  • The ability to collect before and after data can tell us how infrastructure improvements could affect the health of residents.
  • The ability to provide residents with data can drive improvements to public safety and mobility, as well as provide information that conserves energy use and other resources that impact the home budget.
What exactly is a smart city – and what does it do?2021-08-31T08:57:51-07:00

A smart city uses data to develop tailored strategies that enhance livability, workability, and sustainability – empowering citizens with the resources necessary to transform and improve their communities. Why? Because cities are growing. Combined with challenges like aging infrastructures, shrinking budgets, and the need to better manage vital resources, citizens and employers are seeking better services, resources, and livability.

A smart city improves infrastructure and services like transportation, energy management, traffic and mobility, public safety, and water and waste management; empowers people both to engage more effectively with local government through better communication networks and to access and share data and information that can help ensure equity in service delivery; and attracts investment and talent by providing entrepreneurial opportunities, quality of life, and vibrant connected communities. Learn more in this article posted at the World Economic Forum.

Throughout the nation and across the globe, cities are embarking on smart city initiatives. Demonstrating the potential of smart city technology, Tampa Electric Co. deployed a smart street lighting solution that ensures roadway safety, reduces crime and benefits the environment with energy-efficient lighting. Smart city technology is also benefiting water systems. For example, Miami-Dade County is enhancing visibility into wastewater flow monitoring with a solution f