Advancing Innovation Across Georgia

Highlighting Partnership Projects in Metro Atlanta

October 19, 2022, 2:10pm EDT

The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation drives innovation across the state of Georgia by supporting projects in our four pillars: Community Research, Student Engagement, Economic Opportunity, and Workforce Development. Since its inception in August 2020, the Partnership has supported over 20 projects in the Metro-Atlanta economic development district. The Partnership is proud to provide insight into the work researchers, students, and entrepreneurs are accomplishing in the area, by sharing highlights from projects across the region.

Community Research: Application in Atlanta

Over the last four years, the Community Research flagship program, the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge has supported eight projects in the Atlanta area, in partnership with the Atlanta Regional Commission. The program has served communities including the City of Milton, the City of Woodstock, the City of Chamblee, Gwinnett County, and most recently Clayton County, and the City of Sandy Springs. Currently, the Partnership is supporting projects in Henry County and the City of Atlanta. These projects have addressed a variety of transportation-related smart cities initiatives, including everything from developing a walking school bus app, to planning for autonomous vehicles.

In 2021, the City of Sandy Springs in partnership with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) bus service piloted Transit Signal Priority (TSP) technology using bus location data published through an application program interface (API) instead of communicating with a unit on board the bus. This method allowed city representatives to test improvements to the existing transit system without additional infrastructure. The outcomes of the research have benefits for the region, allowing for the potential for a wider implementation of TSP. To learn more about this project, the community research team’s final presentation is available here.

Tackling a different angle of transportation, the Clayton County Georgia Smart team built a decision support system for transport project prioritization to promote mobility equity and identify smart technologies to support walkability in the community. This smart pedestrian planning project assisted in identifying high-impact infrastructure maintenance and development based on building out new connections between regions and improving ADA accessibility, all while minimizing cost and maximizing equity. To learn more about this project, the community research team’s final presentation is available here.

Student Engagement: Showcasing Intern Success 

Since 2020, the Student Engagement flagship program, the Smart Community Corps (SCC) internship program, has supported 15 projects in Metro Atlanta. In multi-university pairs, students from across the state have worked in Atlanta’s communities, totaling over 14,000 hours in service to a variety of projects.

This year, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport two student interns are working towards creating an airport city by conducting research and developing plans for it using methods and techniques of smart city systems design. In Woodstock, SCC interns are taking new data being accumulated by the city’s GridSmart installations (minute-by-minute traffic and turning movements) and finding a way to integrate that data with previously collected historical volume flows that are static, and analyze, compare, and represent the results of the data to show historical patterns.

In the English Avenue Neighborhood in Atlanta’s Westside, Smart Community Corps interns are helping to create prototypes for affordable, sustainable homes as well as explore opportunities for salvaged materials to be used as construction materials. They are helping to evaluate current construction processes regarding energy performance, resiliency, and sustainability to ensure that the most energy is saved from start to finish during the construction of homes.

View the full article about this year’s programming here to learn more about the Partnership’s Smart Community Corps interns.

Economic Opportunity: Engaging Entrepreneurs and Innovators

The Partnership’s Economic Opportunity flagship program, Innovate for All, has been serving entrepreneurs and innovators across the Metro-Atlanta area since its inception in 2020. Five of the Innovate for All projects that have been funded in the last two years have project or service sites in the Metro-Atlanta area including the Georgia Mesh Network, Working Farms Fund, Retazza’s Fresh Food Forward, Mini City, and Kids-Doc-on-Wheels.

In communities like the City of Milner and the City of Woodbury, the Working Farms Fund has leveraged resources to purchase 6 farms equaling 355 acres of farmland in Metro Atlanta, resulting in the support of 22 farm businesses and the permanent conservation and protection of the land they farm. In Dekalb County, Kids-Doc-On-Wheels provides primary care through telehealth and in-person medical services to Atlanta area youth, so they have access to annual physicals, immunizations, and other critical treatments.

Explore all the Partnership’s pillars, programs, projects, and the ways they are helping Georgia become a living laboratory for innovation by visiting the Partnership’s website.

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