Latest Mayors' Leadership Forum Focuses on Smart Community Planning

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For a second time, Georgia Tech and the Georgia Municipal Association hosted the Georgia Mayors' Leadership Forum for Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation. While the first forum in November focused on understanding the basics of smart cities, the latest meeting asked the question: Now what?

Debra Lam, managing director for Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation at Georgia Tech, encouraged participants to ask themselves, “How do I apply [smart city practices] to my city? How do I empower my team to move forward?”

During his welcome address, Steve Swant, Georgia Tech’s executive vice president for Administration and Finance called smart city initiatives a challenging, yet collaborative effort at Georgia Tech. “Georgia Tech leads the infusion of technology in day-to-day operations because we have a desire and passion. Creating the next is what we strive to do.”

Mayors, Chief Information Officers, and other officials from cities and counties across Georgia learned about practical tools to help them translate smart city findings into their day-to-day operations.

Dmitri Mavris, director of the Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory (ASDL), gave an overview of the Smart Campus Project, including a demonstration of FORESIGHT—a multilayered, interactive campus map that shows Georgia Tech as a “mini city” and highlights energy consumption, the age of buildings, and other useful data. Mavris said security is also a key component. “We’re trying to figure out how to get ahead of the system and identify vulnerabilities.”

Later in the day, forum attendees brainstormed how they could use the tool to support their own needs. They also talked about current smart initiatives in their communities – from street cameras and intelligent traffic lights to monitoring devices for flooding and bike trail traffic. Representatives from several Georgia cities and counties participated, including Athens-Clarke County, City of Albany, Columbus Consolidated Government, City of Gainsville, Macon-Bibb County, City of Savannah, and City of Warner Robins.

The morning wrapped up with 5-minute “Ignite Talks” on resilience efforts led by Georgia Tech. Kim Cobb, ADVANCE Professor, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, discussed a new Institute-wide initiative—the Global Change Program, which creates opportunities for Georgia Tech faculty, students, and staff to design and implement solutions to problems at the intersection of environmental, social, and economic systems. While Mary Hallisey, senior director planning & operations, Strategic Energy Institute, outlined the Georgia Coastal and Marine Planner (GCAMP), a geospatial gateway to Georgia-specific maps, data, and resources relevant to coastal and marine planning.

After lunch, Chief Rob Connolly of the Georgia Tech Police Department led a lively discussion about the tools GTPD uses on campus, including street cameras, license plate recognition cameras, and a mobile surveillance unit called SkyCop. When asked about privacy concerns with 1,700 cameras across campus, Chief Connolly emphasized the importance of “using them wisely” and transparency with community partners.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Alyson Key
  • Created: 07/12/2019
  • Modified By: Alyson Key
  • Modified: 10/07/2019


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