GA Smart Holds Virtual Data Workshop

Primary tabs

By: Hoang Ly, Heung Jin Oh, Katie Popp, and Duo-Wei Yang

On July 8th, GA Smart hosted a virtual workshop focused on the use of data in smart cities. The event was led by Georgia Tech’s Dr. Yanni Loukissas and Dr. Christopher Le Dantec of the School of Literature, Media, and Communication and provided an open dialogue for the 2019 Georgia Smart communities to discuss the characteristics of data collected by each community.

The workshop opened with a presentation from Dr. Loukissas who shared insight from his book, All Data Are Local: Thinking Critically in a Data-Driven Society , on the complications of living in a data-driven society and what it means for communities that wish to collect and share this information to drive decision-making. Dr. Loukissas emphasized the need to analyze data within the context of its creation and how the context can dive unintended bias in the results. “We have seen that there are biases in data. It can be fake, biased, or exaggerated. The pandemic has strengthened the fact that data is vital, but we have seen that it can be flawed,” said Dr. Loukissas.

 Following the opening presentation, the four 2019 Georgia Smart communities presented the role of public data in their respective projects. Leaders from the City of Woodstock, City of Milton, Macon-Bibb County, and Columbus Consolidated Government outlined data characteristics, visualization, lifecycle, collection and sharing methods, external commitments, as well as procedures to ensure ethical use.

Kicking off presentations, Woodstock GIS manager Katy Leggett discussed the Smart Woodstock Master Plan and how, in the future, data will help address problems related to pedestrian safety in the downtown area. The city is interested in collecting pedestrian volume counts and would use this data to inform municipal decision making.  This data will be used better visualize the dynamic between vehicular and pedestrian traffic issues in the city, especially during special events. Ms. Leggett outlined the operational guidelines that the City of Woodstock would adopt when implementing a pedestrian volume counter and stressed the need to adopt best practices championed by more developed applications of the technology.  

Macon-Bibb began their SmartNeighborhoodsMBC presentation by outlining the data collected through their system of interactive kiosks. The data collected includes demographic-related information, application usage statistics, and results from surveys using their kiosks, which are the forefront of their project. The current vision utilizes the provided open-access to data from the kiosks and allows people to analyze, contribute to, and use this information within their community. Project leaders are emphasizing digital equity and open access to ensure access to the data being collected.

Principal Planner Michele McIntosh-Ross represented the City of Milton’s project, Technology-Enabled Smarter and Safer Routes to School, and their walking school bus app. The app’s primary function is to incentivize younger students to walk to school instead of commuting by car. McIntosh-Ross discussed the project pre-planning, which included surveying how students got to school, the barriers that discourage walking, and video data collections. Potential data to support the project includes the average time it takes for students to get to school, the demographic of students that will use the app, and how the characteristics of routes will pan out once the app is developed. The collected data will be archived after each school year and will be used to inform future iteration of the application.

The last presentation was conducted by the Smart Uptown team from Columbus Consolidated Government. They outlined their data characteristics, methods of visualization, collection and sharing methods, external commitments. The data collected includes various atmospheric and climate metrics and data pertaining to pedestrians in the uptown area. Data collection is done using an array of sensors and Wi-Fi access points located around the uptown area. This data will be used to inform policymakers helping to promote public health and economic robustness in the area.

The workshop concluded with an illuminating discussion about the importance of data sharing in the public realm and potential risks associated with data-driven decision making.

The Georgia Smart Communities Challenge (“Georgia Smart”) is a funding and technical assistance program for local governments within the State of Georgia. Georgia Smart is a first-of-its-kind opportunity for communities of any size in Georgia to receive grant funding and support that enables them to envision, explore, and plan for their “smart” future. Communities will be given financial assistance, a partnership with a Georgia Tech research team, networking opportunities, and access to additional, unique resources to execute their projects. These resources include connections to industry experts and access to technology solutions provided by our provider-partners.


  • Workflow Status:
  • Created By:
  • Created:
  • Modified By:
  • Modified:


    No categories were selected.


    No keywords were submitted.

Target Audience

    No target audience selected.